Many homeowners across Northeast Ohio utilize a septic tank rather than a conventional city sewer system to dispose of their grey and black water waste. While it may seem like the two are similar from inside the home, in reality, the maintenance and disposal processes are very different. Especially during the winter season. Homes with septic tanks not only have to worry about in-home pipe freezing, a frozen septic tank can leave a costly mess that begins in the yard and backs up into the home.
Avoiding this begins by understanding the reasons of why septic systems freeze:
Very little snow cover – Snow actually serves as insulation over a septic tank. When there is little snow, deep freezes and frosts can go deeper into the ground, potentially freezing your septic system.
Compacted landscape – The area above your septic tank should be kept clear of use. When driveways or paths occur over a septic tank, cars, animals, ATVs, tractors, even foot traffic can compact the area above the septic tank, allowing a deep freeze to move deeper into the soil.
Lack of plant cover – If your septic system is new, or was replaced in the late summer or early fall seasons, adequate vegetation may not have covered up the land before the cold and snow set in. Vegetation helps attract snow to the area, providing more insulation above ground.
Irregular use – Was your septic system designed for a large family, and now you’re down to one or two? Do you spend months away from your home, enjoying a lifestyle in a warmer climate during the cold winter months? If a system isn’t used as it was intended, it can begin to stress and allow freezing temperatures to infiltrate the system.
Leaking plumbing – You know that small trickle of water you can hear even when your toilet hasn’t been flushed? Those tiny leaks in your pipes can cause a thin film of water into the system. These trickles are more susceptible to freezing, and can build up quickly over time, allowing your system to freeze completely.
Cold air entering the system – When was the last time your septic system was looked at and inspected? If risers are uncapped, inspection pipes or manhole covers not reinstalled correctly, they can allow cold air to enter the system. Freezing isn’t far behind.
While some septic systems never have problems, the only way to avoid them in the future is to be proactive every year. Now is the time to complete the following tasks, before the cold weather truly arrives and the ground begins to freeze:
If you suspect your septic system has frozen, its time to call in a professional plumber. The root of the problem must be determined and fixed to avoid further freezing problems either in what’s left of this winter, or as the temperatures freeze again next winter. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help.
* A portion of the information in this article was obtained via PlumbingHelpToday.com.
While most of us are still in shock that 2015 is over (what?!), some of us have already begun planning for 2016 and looking for ways to improve. New Years resolutions typically entail staying fit or saving money. While we can’t help you with the former, we can make saving money easier. Here is a list of plumbing resolutions to convert your home to a more eco-friendly plumbing system, help prevent plumbing emergencies, and basically save you money in 2016.
A sump pump can be an effective option for preventing water damage. Installed in a pit in the basement, these units sense when the water from rain or snowmelt is rising in the pit and approaching the floor level. The incoming water is then pumped outside before it can damage the home or its furnishings.
Sump pumps are relatively low-maintenance devices, but you can help keep your unit operational by inspecting it regularly. Steps in a regular maintenance program can include:
Once a year, disconnect the pump from the power source and remove the unit. Flush it thoroughly with water to remove impurities and debris. While you have the pump out, also clean debris from the sump pit. Reinstall the pump and reconnect the power source. Test the unit by pouring a bucket of water into the pit and making sure the pump starts.
If your unit has backup battery power, replace the battery every two to three years, or as directed by the manufacturer.
Always refer to your pump’s instruction manual for specific information about maintenance and operation. More information about sump pumps is available from the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association.
*The information in this article was obtained via State Farm Insurance.
As temperatures begin to drop, it is a good time to review a few simple steps to keep your water lines from freezing. Frozen pipes can cause damage to your property and cause a major inconvenience. They can also be expensive to repair.
Most frozen lines occur on private property and are the responsibility of the homeowner.
Winterization Water Tips
Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses.
Detaching the hose allows water to drain from the pipe. Otherwise, a single hard, overnight freeze can burst either the faucet or the pipe it’s connected to.
Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas.
If you have pipes in an unheated garage or a cold crawl space under the house, wrap the water pipes before temperatures decline. Hardware or building supply stores will have good wrapping materials available.
Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks.
Repair broken basement windows. Winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes. Don’t plug air vents that your furnace or water heater need for good combustion.
Find the master shut-off valve.
Most likely it’s where the water line comes into the basement or crawl space from the street. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house, this valve can turn off the water.
Leave a pencil-lead-thin stream of water flowing.
A small flow of water running from a bathroom or kitchen faucet during the worst of the cold spell can help prevent faucets or water service lines from freezing. The water should be left running through the pipe susceptible of freezing. You can also leave your cabinet doors open to allow the heat of the house to help keep your pipes from freezing. When away from home for several days, turn the water off and drain the outside faucets or leave the heating system inside your home on to keep the pipes warm.
If freezing weather temperatures do cause a frozen water line on your property, you can contact a plumber or a private contractor to thaw your lines. If you choose to thaw them yourself, here are some tips to help:
*This post originally appeared on the City of Cleveland’s Water Department Website, www.clevelandwater.com.
Neptune Plumbing would like to send a quick reminder to be kind to your plumbing as you prepare those thanksgiving meals. Between the extra guests working your bathrooms overtime and all of the meal prep in the kitchen, your plumbing can take a huge hit during this food-heavy holiday. While this is one of our busiest times of the year here at Neptune, fortunately there are ways you can avoid plumbing emergencies.
First, when it comes to the kitchen, never pour fats or cooking oils down the drain. They will solidify in the pipes as they cool and cause backups. Instead, wipe grease from pots with paper towels and discard in the trash. Larger amounts of grease and oils can be poured into leftover glass jars and then placed in the garbage.
As you’re cooking for the big meal, avoid putting stringy, fibrous or starchy waste in the garbage disposal. Poultry skins, celery, fruit & potato peels, for example, cannot be sufficiently ground up and could cause major backups. When you do use your disposal, make sure it is running as you put food into and don’t wait until it’s full before turning it on.
A house full of guests for the holiday equates to additional toilet flushes, dishwashing, laundry and showers, all of which put a strain on a home’s plumbing system. When hosting guests, it’s a good idea to wait ten minutes between showers so slow drains have time to do their job and water has time to reheat. Also, be sure that the bathrooms are well stocked with toilet paper so guests don’t have to result to using thicker tissues. Garbage cans should be easy to find so things like cotton balls and other waste gets thrown away as opposed to flushed. If you have a finicky toilet, make sure guests are informed.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, emergencies still happen. If you encounter anything that you’re unable to handle by yourself, our plumbing technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. Just give us a call at 1-800-PLUMBING (758-6246).
Drain traps can be found underneath every drain in your house and serve two main purposes. First, they provide a low-point directly below the drain, trapping heavy objects like jewelry and collecting debris such as hair and dirt. This localized trap limits the amount of debris that will pass through to the rest of the plumbing system, where it would be harder to reach and more difficult (i.e.: costly) to remove.
Drain traps also serve a lesser-known, but equally-important purpose. As a result of their shape, drain traps literally trap water within them, creating a necessary seal of protection. Without this seal, sewer gases would enter your home through the piping system that connects your house to your city’s sewer system. These gases not only smell nasty, but can be dangerous to your health.
Unfortunately, when a drain isn’t used for a while, the trapped water will eventually evaporate allowing these gases and – yikes, sewer bugs! – to pass into your home. Therefore, if you have a sink, shower, toilet or floor drain that is rarely used, it is recommended that you run water through it for a minute or so once a month to replenish that water seal. An easy solution to avoid a potentially smelly problem!
Chilly fall temperatures serve as a polite reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the troubles associated with extreme cold. A few simple preparations now will help prevent headaches and costly repairs throughout the winter months.
Caution! These tips are intended for homes that will be inhabited throughout the winter months. Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be abandoned or left unattended for weeks or months at a time. Seek professional help for winterizing such properties.
50 experts were interviewed about home improvement trends in 2011 and their results were packaged nicely into this infographic. Use this as inspiration for your 2011 home improvement projects. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding a plumbing project or green plumbing fixtures. Do you have projects planned yet for this upcoming year? Share them below in the comments.
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day on Monday, we though we’d share this relevant “how-to” guide. Stephen Antonson teaches how to turn spare plumbing parts into an array of industrial candlesticks that are guaranteed to set the mood for any occasion, especially Valentine’s Day.
Plumbing parts come in either black or galvanized silver, both of which are quite striking. You have the option of leaving them bare or painting them (See Step 3). ??You’ll also need:
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
For more information on this and other great DIY projects, check out Stephen’s book, Home From the Hardware Store, available on Amazon or from an independent bookseller near you.?? About the filmmakers: ??Soo Kim and Marcus Ricci are founding members of Brazen Angler Films. They live and work in Brooklyn, NY.
If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party this year you’ll want to add these tips to your to-do list.
Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day of food consumption, according to the American Institute of Food Distribution. It’s behind only Thanksgiving Day. Just like the holidays, your family and friends cram into your home for the big game. And that means your garbage disposal and toilets will likely be working overtime.
Neptune Plumbing has some steps you can take before your guests arrive that will help keep your home’s plumbing in good working condition:
These tips will help keep your plumbing in good working condition. However, if you have a plumbing emergency, Neptune Plumbing is open on Super Bowl Sunday; you can contact us here.
Have fun and enjoy the game!