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Frozen Septic?? Now What...
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RobW    Posted 02-05-2003 at 15:33:05       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Ok, I just visited our country home, to coordinate some remodeling and low and behold there is some dripping from the septic drain pipe in the basement. HUH?? How could it be backed up, we don't live there, we have only used water periodically, and I keep it off in the winter. So I open the pipe, and "get the Bucket" about 2 gallons of water comes out. I think the septic lines, or tank is frozen. What can I do about it? Wait till spring?? I lived in the country for 2 years, moved back to the city with our first child, and now bought a second home on 8 acres in the country. I am thinking that since there is little or no sludge, then the water froze and I am screwed. Any ideas?? Thanks!!

Mr H    Posted 02-04-2008 at 04:21:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Take a look at

Our septic systems here in Canada are always freezing up and we have found some effective and economical ways of thawing lines and preventing freeze up.    Posted 10-27-2003 at 15:48:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Prevent septic system freeze-up

Chris Norgaard    Posted 10-27-2003 at 15:45:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'm working on a solution...

put antifreeeze in the toilet    Posted 02-05-2003 at 18:20:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
and wait 24 hrs should thaw out ice in septic line.They will freeze in the line between house and tank.IT works try it.

Hi Tech Hugh    Posted 02-05-2003 at 16:52:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Had the same problem three years ago at my cottage. There were temperatures of -30 and very little snow. In the spring I uncoverd the tank all four inches of dirt and looked in there was still alot of ice. I have since added more dirt on top and in the fall rake leaves on top .I try to get up there more in the winter and use the septic system to keep things activating. Had know problems since

Hi Tech Hugh

Lazy Al    Posted 02-05-2003 at 16:50:36       [Reply]  [No Email]
Went away for a week-end once and came back to
a sewer line froze solid . Had dripping faucet and the line was exposed to the cold . Had to tear it apart . But septic tanks seldem freeze .
One time I connected a funnel to a hose and poked it down the pipe and poured hot water down it, untill it broke thru ,Had a tub there to catch the water that came back out while I was doing it . Was your water on for this to be a posiblity .
Good luck

Willy-N    Posted 02-05-2003 at 16:15:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
Your lines going to the tank will not freeze 99.9% of the time do to the fact they drain down hill. But your traps for the tolet, sinks and washer can if your building is not heated. You can put RV Anti-Freeze in them to stop that when you are gone. If the tolet one froze under the house it could crack and cause the dripping. You did not say where the water was coming from but it must be above ground so I would check there first. If they frose and cracked they will need replacing or at least a bandaid of good old JB Weld on the crack if it is not to bad. Pour some salt down the traps or Real hot water to see if they will thaw. Let us know what you find out. Mark H.

Heather    Posted 12-08-2005 at 07:52:44       [Reply]  [Send Email]
can u put Ice Melt down the toilet? we have an RV which we are living in and the whole toilet is frozen!! we are in WY and its gotten -30. we are new to all this winter living, were from Southern Cal and we need help. LOL. i was thinking the Ice Melt u put on walkways would maybe melt the frozen tank. Anyways, please reply ASAP.
Thanx for any help.

Willy-N Re answering of question    Posted 02-05-2003 at 17:32:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
If your system is installed right for your area the main line should not freez going to the tank. If you let water drip in the system to keep the water lines from freezing you could over tax your leach feild and the pipes could fill up and not drain causing the water to come to the surface and freeze down into the lines. This could cause a back up of the tank ect. The tank should have a layer of air in it not full to the brim. Lines that are not being used will not freeze due to no water going into them unless you had a leak. You said you shut the water off when you are gone so I would think that would not be your problem. Discribe where the water was leaking and where you drained the pipe from. Was the house heated? Need more information for a good answer. Mark H.

Leona Gerry    Posted 01-26-2004 at 08:34:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I had my septic tank pumped out the end of Aug. and then this last weekend the system started acting up again. I did not think the tank could be full already being my daughter went away to college and I have been alone in the house for the past 5 months. So thinking I had a blockage I had Rooter Man come out and snake though the thing. $195 later and no blockage and problem not fixed. I was told my septic was full and needed to be pumped again. I called the same people that came out in Aug. "Nest" They pumped it out while I was at work and left the bill $215 and a note saying-------


I called them to see what can be done and I was told to hope for a Jan. heat way.

A friend told me to try a barn fire on top of it.


Thank you;

Leona Gerry

RobW    Posted 02-05-2003 at 19:31:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
A follow up: I leave the thermostat set at 55-60, the water line from the furnace drains into my sewer pipe, that would normally be the only water going to the septic. I do have some Amish doing some remodeling, and they have periodically used a little wate to wash tools etc. I know some of you don't beleive it, bit it it the main large 4 inch sewer pipe in the basement. The pipe goes out of the house horizontally, at a slope of course, then inside the basement it goes connect to the plumbing. There is a screw in plug at the end of the horizontal in the basement...that is where the water is coming from. The pipes are not froze inside the house, it is the main line going out to the septic tank and field. Would I do damage putting salt/antifreeze mix into the pipe? I do not need to use the toilet, since I do not use the house in the winter much.

Willy-N Did a search for you    Posted 02-06-2003 at 00:20:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
This was one page of information. There are more if you do a search on the net for Septic+Line+Frozen. Hopes this helps, Mark

A lot of systems are freezing up because of the extreme cold. This problem is made worse when you have no snow cover. Snow is a good insulator and without it the frost goes deep into the ground. Here in central Minnesota it has been below zero for the last few days and I could actually mow my lawn because of the lack of snow. A few things that make septic system freeze up are:
Not enough use. When you put water and waste products into the system it first agitates the contents of the tank...moving water does not easily freeze, but more importantly as the bacteria work to breakdown the waste products they create heat. This is one of the reasons seasonal cabins have a lot of freeze ups because they sit for long periods with no use. Don't skimp too much with the water.
Too much water use. If you flood the system out you dilute the warm water and ask for trouble. In other words, don't be a glutton with the water.
Driving cars and snowmobiles over the drainfield. Compacting snow and soil will drive the frost right into the system. KEEP OFF!!!
If your system does freeze up contractors will usually steam the system open with a hot water pressure washer. So if you have one of these expensive machines you can do it yourself...if you know where it is frozen, and that is the tough part, where is it frozen? The line from the house to the tank? The line from the tank to the distribution box? The drainfield itself? Unless you know where the problem is it may be best to hire a contractor.

Once you get it going again you can spread hay or leaves 6" to 12" deep over the system for insulation purposes. Come the summer you can dig up and wrap the pipes from the house to the tank and from the tank to the distribution box with insulation. You can also insulate the top of the tank with ridged insulation. This will help maintain the higher temperatures in the system.

Another solution: Inspection pipes and exposed access covers are a direct conduit for cold to get into the system. You can minimize that problem by covering these items with decorative landscape rocks. has several different sizes, colors and styles that will not only help insulate your system but also disguises those ugly septic system components. I have of 2 of them already and plan on getting a few more.

no salt anti freeze    Posted 02-05-2003 at 19:58:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
i have to do it to mine some times...just pure a gallion in the toilet if will work it's way to the ice.It mite take 24 hrs..I've done it it works.

Spence That's Anti Freeze for Toilets Only    Posted 02-06-2003 at 10:13:21       [Reply]  [No Email]

Don    Posted 03-11-2003 at 17:09:00       [Reply]  [Send Email]

My septic system froze in Rhode Island. The distribution box and leach field seem frozen. Help


TomH    Posted 02-05-2003 at 15:59:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
Is this the first winter with this house? My guess is that the problem is more serious than just low temperatures. A failing septic system, especially if it's been there for a long time is not good. Replacing it might mean getting up to modern codes.

Lazy Al /Mi    Posted 02-06-2003 at 05:03:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
Your furnace might have been the problem . What happens is the water trickeles down the pipe and
freezes before it gets to the tank and it just keeps building up . With little onr no heat coming from the tank . Thats what happened to me years ago .
I had a new system put in here about six years ago and put in a 1300 gal tank to a 1200 gal tank
with a baffel in then to a 300 foot leach field ,
Had to go across my drive going from tank to field so I had them put 2" strofoam over it . Figured the extra money was worth it .
Don't want any problems in the middle of the winter . Been there done that .
Watch now mine will freeze. Darn ....
That's what happened to my frostless faucet .
read it on here and the next day mine froze ,Thought I had that covered too. Got it thawed out OK .

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