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Winter is coming: 4 festive tips for sewage treatment plant and septic tank maintenance

By: Becky Belton on Nov 27, 2023

As the temperature drops and Christmas beckons, it’s not just your wardrobe that needs a seasonal boost. If they’re going to see you through the winter safely, septic tanks and domestic sewage treatment plants need some love and attention, too.

Is your system ready for a seasonal onslaught?

Never mind families, the Christmas period can be a time of particular stress for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants. Changes in temperature and usage patterns can threaten to disrupt their normal functions and leave you needing call-out support at the most magical (and expensive) time of the year.

So, here's our guide to a stress-free and, hopefully, cess-free Christmas:

What are the winter risks to your septic tank or sewage plant?

1. Baby, it’s cold outside - protect your pipes, tanks and microbes

Frozen pipes can cause equipment failure, but don’t forget disruption to your organic sewage treatment process caused by cold weather can also lead your domestic plant to fail.

The microbial workforce in your sewage treatment plant thrives at temperatures between 10-12 degrees Celsius. A drop below this can slow down their activity or halt it altogether, leading to a buildup of sludge and potential system problems. 

Insulation is your ally against the freezing cold. Mulch, leaves, or plant cover can be used to insulate the patch where your system is buried and the pipes leading to your drainage field.  

Get our sewage treatment guidance poster for the festive season!

Avoid cutting the grass short in the soil treatment area before winter; the longer blades can trap any snow or ice, providing natural insulation.

Give your microbes a Christmas gift

Microbial activity is the heart of your sewage treatment plant. Ensure that the bacteria have a steady diet of organic waste to process throughout the Christmas period. This activity not only keeps the system functioning but also generates heat to prevent freezing.

One way to give your bacteria the best chance of staying alive and active is to ensure you don’t kill any unnecessarily. So try to avoid overusing cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals, especially acids and bleaches, that may change delicately balanced pH levels.

2. Tis the Season! Avoid overloading the system

The holiday season can put additional pressure on your sewage treatment plant with increased bathroom, laundry and kitchen usage from guests, who may not be familiar with how your water systems work.

You know the rules - the 3 Ps for toilet disposal and the kind of chemicals that impede system performance - but your guests may not. To help with this, you can print out guidance to leave in guest bedrooms and bathrooms or have a quiet word with your friends when they arrive.  

If you have a very full house, you could plan out the use of showers and kitchen appliances so processing activity in the system is staggered throughout the day.

Get the Do's and Don'ts Guide for the Diamond sewage treatment plant

3. It’ll be lonely this Christmas - don’t forget your system when you go away

Are you going away to visit friends or family? Maybe you’re chasing the winter sun?

Frozen pipes and tanks are common culprits of winter woes, and irregular usage can exacerbate the issue.

If you plan to be away for an extended period, consider having the system emptied before leaving to prevent the contents from freezing.

Otherwise, have someone drop in occasionally to show your septic tank or treatment plant some love and attention. Run some taps, flush some toilets… you know the kind of thing.

Where blowers are present in the plant design (as in the Diamond Compact Wastewater Treatment and others), they should be left ON during periods of low usage to prevent freezing.

4. Enjoy some silent nights - plan ahead 

Keep an eye on your system's performance throughout the winter. Any signs of slowing down or blockage should be addressed immediately to prevent long-term damage.

Have a professional inspect and maintain your sewage treatment plant before the cold sets in, if you can. A pre-winter check can help identify and rectify any potential issues like leaks or blockages that could be further exacerbated by cold weather.

And remember, despite all precautions, emergencies can occur. Have the contact information for a reliable maintenance service handy, and know the steps to take if your system shows signs of distress,

Good tidings we bring!

By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your domestic sewage treatment plant remains in good health throughout winter, avoiding the unpleasant surprises that can come with neglect. 

Taking a proactive approach to planning and preventive maintenance will mean you can enjoy the parties, as well as the peace and tranquility of the season of goodwill.

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Topics: Wastewater Treatment

Becky Belton

Written by Becky Belton

Becky is a highly experienced Senior Account Manager who over the past 20 years has built a large customer portfolio and trusted relationships with our independent network of expert drainage engineers in the UK and Europe. She works closely with clients to specify the Diamond and HiPAF sewage treatment plants for the off mains drainage market. In addition to nurturing existing customer relationships, Becky oversees new business opportunities for the market whilst delivering exceptional customer service.

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