If you have a septic system in your yard and are still digging out from spring snowstorms in areas like Quebec and Ontario, it's time to inspect the septic system to ensure that frozen ground over the winter hasn't damaged the tank or pipes. If you're relatively new to septic systems, the seemingly still, not-very-exciting winter can actually be quite a shock to the septic system for these three reasons.
Frost heave occurs when moisture in the soil freezes and expands, causing the soil to shift upward. If any portion of the tank or the pipes rests on soil that is above the frost line, or the line above which moisture will freeze, that portion of the equipment can move up right along with the soil. This can break pipes and connections, resulting in a messy leak once the ground fully thaws and lets the sewage flow out.
Erosion From Meltwater
Another source of shifting soil -- and thus shifting septic equipment -- is erosion from meltwater or melting snow. As snow and ice thaw and the water runs off toward storm drains or culverts, it can erode the soil. If it erodes enough, the septic equipment can be affected and then shift. The potential results are much like those with frost heave: broken pipes, cracked tanks, loose connections, and a resulting sewage leak.
Cracks From Expanding Ice
Sometimes the ice in the soil doesn't just expand up; it expands out. If that happens around an underground tank, that ice can crush the tank's walls, resulting in dents or even cracks. Cracks, as mentioned, can leak, but dents are also bad because they both weaken the material and constrict how much the tank can hold. You'd have to get the tank emptied more often if it no longer had the same capacity as before the winter.
Even if you see nothing obviously wrong after the snow clears, have the system inspected. If there's even a small leak and it turns out that trees in the area weren't planted far enough away, the leaking sewage could attract aggressive tree roots that could then enter and block the pipes, causing even more problems.
Contact a septic repair company to arrange for an inspection. They'll be able to check over the whole system and repair anything that's going wrong, frost-related or not. The inspection will also help you get the system ready for spring and summer storms.
For septic system maintenance, contact a company such as Edmonton Ardalta Vacuum Truck Services Ltd.