Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to stop your chalet septic line from freezing


My septic pipe froze in my chalet this winter, what can I do to stop that from happening next winter?


This is a common occurrence in cottages and chalets that are not used as often as a normal home.

To understand how to fix the problem you must first understand why it happened. Your septic line froze because the frost penetrated through the ground far enough that it froze right around the pipe. Once the ground has frozen around the pipe the frost causes the ground to shift or heave, when this happens there ends up being flat spots in the pipe where the waste water and material will sit instead of running downhill the whole way to the septic tank. Combine this flat spot with the fact that your chalet does not get used everyday means that the waste water has a chance to freeze. In a normal home hot water is sent down the pipe everyday a couple of times a day warming up any standing water or waste and moving it along. The odds of your septic line freezing in a home that you use all the time are slim compared to your chalet. The pipe has a chance to stay warm depending on how much use it gets and this helps keep the ground around it from freezing as quickly also. Once that water gets the chance to freeze then the next time water is released down the drain it hits ice and starts to back up waste and debris until it is completely blocked. Once the pipe is completely blocked then the waste water starts to come back up through your drains.

What you have to do in the spring or summer (as long as you have been able to get it unfroze) is you need to dig up and expose the entire pipe from the house to the tank. You need to remove all the backfill from around all sides of it. If the pipe was frozen then you might want to have a new pipe installed just encase the existing pipe was damaged. You have to install a bed of sand underneath the new pipe, level your new pipe with a consistent slope from the house to the tank. Then back fill all around and on top of the pipe with sand.

On top of the sand you should install a couple of layers of polystyrene foam sheeting. These sheets should be about 2 feet wide and cover the entire distance of where the pipe runs from the house to the tank. This will prevent the frost in the future from penetrating through the ground to freeze around the pipe.

Cover the foam with topsoil and finish your grading accordingly.

Doing this should stop your septic line from freezing in the future, there are other ways to do it but this is by far the cheapest and most effective way.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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