What Should You Know About Pumping Your Septic Tank During Winter?

30 June 2016
 Categories: , Blog


If your home is serviced by a septic tank rather than the public sewer system, you may find yourself inadvertently taking an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to your tank in the absence of a monthly sewer bill. While septic tanks are efficient miniature ecosystems that utilize enzymes and bacteria to significantly reduce the volume of solid and liquid waste, they do need to be pumped on a regular basis -- and if you find yourself dealing with a full or nearly full septic tank in the dead of winter, you may wonder whether having this underground tank pumped while the ground is frozen is even an option. Will you be forced to minimize the use of your home's toilets and sinks until the ground thaws? Read on to learn more about having your septic tank pumped during winter, as well as what you can do to extend the amount of time between cleanings.

Can you have your septic tank pumped during the winter months?

Fortunately, most septic tanks that are regularly used won't ever completely freeze, even when the ground around them is frozen solid. Because you're regularly pumping water from your sinks, bathtub, and toilet into your septic tank, the temperature of the water and solids within it will remain above freezing. If there's snow on the ground, this can provide some additional insulation to the tank. 

However, freezing is a real risk for your tank if it becomes too full. When this happens, waste backs up into the drainage pipes, where it can freeze and cause the pipe to burst. This will mean a messy (and expensive) mid-winter excavation and pipe replacement, so it's always best to have your tank pumped as quickly as possible if you begin to notice drainage issues. 

What should you do to extend the life of your septic tank between cleanings? 

If you'd like to stretch out the amount of time between septic tank cleanings, there are a few steps you can take. First, you'll want to turn a critical eye to everything you send into your tank. If you or other family members tend to flush a lot of toilet tissue, you may want to consider using a wastebasket instead. Frequent use of the garbage disposal for greasy scraps or large volumes of food that could be easily scooped out and thrown in the trash should also be avoided. 

You may also wish to add enzymes to your septic tank periodically to keep the volume of solid waste down. These enzymes can break down solids and even neutralize certain pathogens, allowing the concrete walls of your septic tank to drain liquid waste while retaining the much smaller volume of solids that remain after enzyme processing. For more information, contact Southern Sanitary Systems Inc or a similar company.