Bath tap with cold sign close up

If you have a septic tank, you know that the system works best when it strikes the proper balance between bacteria and wastewater. But have you considered how cold weather affects your septic tank? Even in the Bay Area, where the winter is only slightly colder than the summer, it’s important to understand the connection and what you can do to keep your system functioning as intended.

The Role of Bacteria in a Septic System

Without bacteria, the concept of a septic tank wouldn’t work. In fact, the whole septic system is designed to keep bacteria healthy and busy.

In a well-balanced system, anaerobic bacteria inside the tank thrive on the endless food supply you provide it. When wastewater flows into the tank, bacteria get right to work, eating the waste, digesting it, and turning solids into liquids and gases. Bacteria are responsible for over half of the decomposition that occurs in a septic tank, and you can’t even see them!

Then, relatively clean water flows through an outlet pipe and into the drain field. More anaerobic bacteria live there, finalizing the decomposition of the waste and leaving clean water to seep into the groundwater and aquifer supplies.

The Effect of Cold Weather on Your Septic System

Winter weather can have a significant impact on your septic system, even in Pleasanton’s mild climate. Here are some of the effects to be aware of:

  • The colder it gets inside the septic tank, the longer it takes for bacteria to break down waste.
  • Low temperatures cause the soil to become harder and more compact. As a result, the drain field may not be able to hold as much water.
  • Extra water around the tank can be problematic in our climate, where it rains 3 to 5 inches every month in the winter.
  • Older septic tanks and pipes may experience extra stress during colder weather, potentially causing them to wear out and fail.

How to Protect Your Septic System Against Cold Weather

To help your septic tank perform well all winter long, remember these tips:

  • Use cleaning solutions, detergents, and soaps sparingly.
  • Only use septic-safe toilet paper.
  • Never flush anything besides toilet paper and human waste down the toilet.
  • Scrape food scraps into the garbage or compost pile rather than rinsing them down the drain.
  • Ask family members to shower at different times of the day.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s full.
  • Do away with “laundry day” and space batches out throughout the week.
  • Schedule routine septic inspections to help you spot problems early and avoid expensive repairs.

At Trinity Liquid Waste, we know that every septic system is a little different. Whether you’re currently experiencing problems or want to prevent issues from cropping up, our septic tank services are for you. We have 25 years of experience, so you can trust us to get the job done right! Contact us at 510-874-6489 today to schedule services in Pleasanton, CA.