Frost Depth Affecting Septic Tanks and Sewer Lines

Frost Depth Penetration Affects Septic Systems

On a recent service call I worked on a home that was on City Sewer. The building sewer seemed to be plugged but not frozen. After clearing the sewer line from the home to the city main sewer, the sewage still was not going down!

A call to the Lakeland Sanitary District was made. Lakeland Sanitary dispatched a crew to help. After removing a manhole cover the problem was discovered. Ice covered the sewer line entering the manhole. Flow was reestablished after thawing the sewer line. This manhole was checked only days before and no problems existed.

Frost was the culprit! It is estimated the freeze depth is over eight feet deep this year. It is less than this where snow has not been removed, but it is deeper than usual. Septic systems and sewer lines are freezing up.

To help avoid costly service calls and repairs, there are a few options to help these systems through the rest of the winter.

  1. Run more hot water than usual. First thing in the morning and last thing at night.
  2. Fix any leaking water faucets. A little dribble will freeze in the sewer line before reaching the septic tank.
  3. Condensate from a furnace will also freeze, if possible use a condensate pump. This typically is not necessary if you are living in the home full time.

Normal Frost Depth Estimates

Frost Map

Average Frost Depths




About len

Len was born in 1953 and have been involved in the LaFrenier Sons Septic, a family owned business since high school. He attended college at UW Marathon and Madison where I studied chemistry, physics, computer science, biochemistry, zoology, bacteriology, and other. He also studied Power Mechanics at Madison Area Tech. Len has the following licenses: Wisconsin Master Plumber RSVP, Soil Evaluator, POWTS Maintainer, Master Septage Operator. He is also licensed in Michigan as a POWTS Maintainer and Septic Installer.
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