Winterizing The Cottage Septic System


Ontario's The Township of Muskoka Lakes sewage system inspectors advise against unnecessarily pumping out your septic tank, as this can lead to problems in the event of spring floods. "Even concrete will float", so if you empty your tank in the fall, you run the risk of the tank becoming dislodged from the ground in the event of high water levels.

It is important to check your plumbing vent stack for blockages.

Plumbing vent stacks that become blocked by animal nests, leaves, or other debris can cause problems during winter visits. An obstruction means they can’t vent properly. “You can get odor coming down—a sewage smell,” says Bos. One preventative measure is to—wear proper safety gear for roof work—clear the stack of debris in late fall, once trees have lost their leaves before you close up for the season. (If the stack’s status isn’t obvious from the ground, use binoculars or the zoom on your camera to do some recon.)

And BTW: come winter, vent stacks can also become blocked by snow or ice, (You can open them up with boiling water) If your plumbing stack keeps getting blocked—

It is important to add antifreeze to appliances that are prone to freezing, It's recommended you pour RV antifreeze into these appliances to help prevent them from freezing. For the dishwasher, it's recommended to pour the antifreeze into the bottom and turn it on to drain. For the washing machine, pour the antifreeze into the machine and put it on the spin. This will help circulate the antifreeze through all freeze-prone parts of the appliance. If there is a P-trap in the wall behind the washing machine, make sure it gets antifreeze too. If not, it could freeze and split. In the spring, you may find that antifreeze has stained your fiberglass shower or tub. It's recommened  wiping up any residue with a paper

It is important that you do not put any septic additives or similar products down the drain in the fall, as this is unnecessary. If you have been following the expert advice in Cottage Life magazine, you know that your septic system is in good condition and will be ready when you return in the spring. That said, if the cabin has not been used in four months, it is best to ease into using the septic system again to avoid any problems.

Cottage Life


UPDATED: JUNE 18, 2022

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