Don't Plow The Snow Over Your Septic Tank: Do These Things Instead

Posted on: 8 October 2015

If you plan to plow or remove snow from over your septic tank this winter, don't. Although very cold temperatures can freeze the water in the tank and damage its housing, the thick blanket of snow covering the ground over your tank can actually keep it from freezing up. Snow insulates the soil on your property against heat loss. Before you bring out the snowplow, here's what you should do to protect your septic tank instead.

Aerate the Snow

One of the things you want to do is keep the layer of snow over your septic tank loose and fluffy. Compacted snow forms a solid layer of ice beneath it that prevents it from absorbing heat. In addition, once compacted snow melts in the spring, the water can saturate the soil around the septic tank and rust or damage it. Aerating the snow saves you problems.

Aeration is generally used to improve the oxygen levels in soil by breaking or loosening it up. The more air the soil has, the healthier plants will grow. You can help the snow over your septic tank absorb heat by aerating it.

Here's what you do:

  • Use a large gardening hoe to loosen up the snow covering your septic tank. It's okay to use a lawn care aerating tool to make this step easier for you.
  • Spread the snow across the tank and areas surrounding it evenly as you aerate it. 
  • Flip or rotate the snow in places to create extra air pockets. 
  • Secure the aerated snow with cones or some other barrier. You want to keep vehicles, people and animals off the snow to avoid compacting it.

After you aerate the area, try to keep at least 12 inches of snow over the areas to insulate the tank properly. If it snows during the night and covers the tank too much, use a shovel to remove the excess snow from over the tank until you reach the recommended height.

Protect Your Septic Tank's Pipelines

If you know the location of your septic tank's underground pipelines, aerate the snow over them as well. Sometimes, water can freeze inside the pipelines leading out from a septic tank, because they lack the proper insulation. 

Placing mulch and blankets over the pipelines can help protect the tank's pipelines from freezing temperatures. For the best results, place the insulation down before it snows. You also want to cover the lines evenly and correctly.

Here's what you do:

  • Locate and mark the septic tank's pipelines with colorful flags and tall sticks or poles. Use only colors that stand out against snow, such as green, red or blue.
  • Place at least 4 inches of mulch over the length of the lines. Spread the mulch out with a rake.
  • Fold the blankets in half, then place them over the mulch.
  • Use bricks or large stones to hold the blankets in place until snow covers them.

If the lines freeze over before you have a chance to insulate them, contact your septic tank contractor for repairs. Also, don't use heating equipment, such as a portable heater or lamp, to thaw frozen pipes in your home. The ice inside your septic tank's frozen lines can spread to the plumbing lines in your bathroom and kitchen. The thawed pipes can flood your home and damage its foundation, walls and flooring.

If aerating the snow over the septic tank or covering the pipelines work, schedule an appointment with your contractor immediately. Getting through the winter with your septic tank intact doesn't have to be hard or frustrating. For more tips or services for your septic tank, contact a contractor like Magnan - NSD Vac Truck Service before the cold season and snow hits.