Editor's note: The following information was provided by the Todd County Planning and Zoning Office.
Minnesota winters can bring severe cold bringing on concerns about septic systems freezing up, especially when there is little snow cover. Homeowners we can reduce the risk of septic system freeze-up.
• Repair leaky water fixtures inside your home. Dripping sinks and toilets can cause ice to form in the sewer line from your house to the septic tank.
• Place straw mulch (8-12 inches thick) over your sewer pipes, septic tank and drainfield to help insulate the soils from freezing.
• Allow yourself the luxury of taking longer showers and baths during cold spells. Keeping the liquids in your septic tank warm will help alleviate some freeze- up problems.
• If your system has any cracked or missing inspection pipes or caps over the tank and drainfield, replace them. This situation delivers cold air directly into your septic system and can cause it to freeze up.
If your septic system has had a history of freezing up in previous winters, there may be some inherent problems with the septic system that should be addressed. A sewer professional should be able to troubleshoot many of these issues - including:
• Repair of sagging or settled pipes that trap water.
• Installation of insulation over shallow tanks and inlet/outlet pipes
• Regular maintenance including tank pumping and cleaning drainfield distribution lines.
• Older drain fields often become "waterlogged" and no longer drain efficiently creating a freeze-up potential.
A few more tips:
• Keep the turf over your drainfield in good shape. A thick green lawn does a terrific job of insulating your drainfield.
• Do not park cars, boats, campers etc. over your drainfield. Compaction from heavy vehicles allows frost to go deeper into the soil and parked vehicles prevent snow from making contact with the ground. Snow is a great insulator.
Those with questions or concerns may contact Todd County Planning and Zoning Office at 320-732-4420.