Information on Your Waushara County

Winter care of your septic

Despite the warmer than normal fall weather we have been experiencing, winter is coming, and it’s just around the corner, which means it’s time to start preparing your home for the change to colder weather.

If you live in a rural area, one more item to consider winterizing at this time of year is your septic system or POWTS (Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment Sy-stem). A combination of cold weather and lack of snow can cause home septic systems to freeze during the winter.

Other factors that can contribute to freezing problems include irregular or sporadic use, such as with a seasonal or weekend home, leaking plumbing fixtures, piping with inadequate pitch, or a damaged POWTS component.

If the soil over any part of your system has become compacted, it can cause the piping or a component underground to shift and thus affect the flow of wastewater in your system. Any wastewater left standing in a pipe or other component can easily freeze, even under the best conditions.

So, what is a rural homeowner to do? Following is a list of things you can do to prevent your system from freezing this year and in years to come. Keep in mind that depending on the type of system you have, its particular location in the landscape, your household water use, and the weather conditions that come our way, you may never have a freezing problem.

It is not necessary to do all of these, but you should pick and choose what is right for you and your POWTS based on your own situation.

• Place a layer of mulch, leaves, or hay, at least 8 to 12 inches thick, over the pipes, tank and soil absorption/treatment area to provide extra insulation. This is particularly important if you have had a new system installed late in the year and no vegetative cover has been established. If you have read this too late, and your system is currently frozen, ignore this step as it will delay thawing when spring and warmer weather arrives.

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