A lot of people that have a septic tank, also known as an onsite system, often find themselves in a position where they start to become concerned about the overall condition of the system as the weather gets colder. Unfortunately, cold weather seems to have a way of bringing out the worst in practically every type of system, and a septic is no different. When the weather starts to get really cold, it can play havoc with the system and its ability to do what it was designed to do, especially if maintenance has been neglected in the past. As a result, there are some basic things that you need to know in order to ensure that it is properly cared for and that you don’t get any unpleasant surprises at the worst possible time.
The first thing you really have to know is that there is no special maintenance that usually needs to be performed just because the weather is getting colder. As long as the system was installed properly to begin with and it has been properly maintained, the cold weather in and of itself will not be enough to cause a problem in most cases. Of course, if you have ignored maintenance in the past or it was not installed properly from the beginning, this could be different story. This is one more reason why it is so important that you have it checked by a professional who has the knowledge and expertise to find problems before they get even worse.
First and foremost, the entire system should be checked over for proper operation, including the drainfield. This will provide answers about any telltale signs that might exist concerning potential problems. Ensure that the condition of the entire system has been checked, including the pump, floaters and tank, and that any additional maintenance that is required be performed. Not all systems have codes, so is important that you only do business with someone who is knowledgeable in all types of systems. It is also a good time to have the tank pumped out if it is even close to being full. It can be difficult to get someone out to do so in the middle of the holidays, so it is a good idea to do it beforehand if possible.
If you live in a colder climate, you should also ensure that the tank is properly insulated. In many cases, the vegetation that is growing on top of the ground directly above the tank will be sufficient but this may not be the case in exceptionally cold climates or when the vegetation has not yet had a chance to fully develop. In these cases, you can use straw in order to hold in the heat so that the tank will operate correctly. If you do live in a colder climate, it is a good idea to insulate the entire tank, especially if you are only in the home for part of the year. You might also want to consider using a tank heater, but understand that this does not take the place of a fully insulated tank.
By the same token, if you are not going to be in the home for several months at a time, it is a good idea to get someone to ensure that the tank is used by washing dishes or a load of clothes at least once a week. It will keep everything in good shape and help to stave off any additional problems that stem from lack of use.