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Winterization of Septic Pump

Brent H.
Brent H. Member Posts: 110
Greetings,

I’m planning to winterize our camp in NH this weekend. I’m familiar how to drain the water and antifreeze toilets/traps. but am not sure if I need to do anything with the effluent pump. The camp has an old metal septic tank that has a separate chamber with a pump to push liquids to the leachfield. The cover for this is just below ground and has a pipe that comes straight up, takes a 90, goes through a PVC check valve, and then runs to the leach field. I’m curious if I need to do anything with the pump to make it safe from damage over the winter.

Thanks in advance. I’ve enjoyed the forum for years and have learned a lot.

Brent

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,047
    Shouldn't need to do much of anything, if the pump chamber is at least 4 feet deep (which I expect it is). The only thing you might do is open that check valve, if you can, so any liquid left in the vertical pipe (probably none) can flow back into the pump chamber.

    If it's shallower, you should find a farmer who will sell you a few hay bales (square bales, not round bales!) and put them over the cover.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Brent H.
    Brent H. Member Posts: 110
    Unfortunately, the pump chamber is pretty shallow. Likely only a couple feet deep and the cover is only 8-10 inches below grade and covered with a little pressure treated structure to allow easy access.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,047
    Um. I wish people wouldn't do that. What you are going to need to do is to run the pump manually (I presume it has a float switch on it of some kind? Hold it up) until it has pulled as much water from the chamber as possible. If at all possible, the pump should be mostly out of the water. Then as I suggested, find a farmer with some hay bales and pile them over the cover going out a foot or two at least all around. That should protect it for most of the winter, and it won't freeze hard.

    Do NOT put antifreeze in there (and I hope you are using RV antifreeze in your traps, by the way, not the automotive stuff). Even the RV stuff isn't all that great on leach fields -- so you don't want it in that chamber (a gallon or two in the traps won't hurt).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,938
    One trick that is done for below grade pumps is to drill a 3/16" hole in the discharge pipe just above the pump.
    This allows the riser pipe to drain back down from the check valve. This might let you avoid having to remove the check valve connection on the inlet.

    Another idea is to remove the pump and store it in your basement.....just kidding. :s
    Zman