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Ryan_V

mow over the mound or let it grow for "insulation"?

15 posts in this topic

what do you guys with septics do? I've heard both ways. some leave the grass long over the mound to give a little extra insulation in case there is little or no snow cover and extremely cold temps to prevent freeze up, some just say mow it. I realize it's not much more insulation, but I want to avoid frozen lines. let me know what you guys think.

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I was told by a person that installs mound systems for a living to let it grow long. He said to stop mowing in September. The longer grass catches more snow which helps insulate the mound. Sure makes for a mess the first time you mow in the spring though.

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I don't have a mound but starting last year I started to stop mowing over the drain field on the septic system in about July and it seemed to help by catching the snow and keeping the ground insulated. On the down side, I have alot of clover in my yard and after the first snow the deer where in there digging it all up to get to the clover so it didn't work as perfectly as I thought! grin

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I quit mowing it starting in September. I also put straw over the top of it. People tell me it's overkill, that I don't need to put straw down, and they're probably right. I tell them I do it to have a worry-free, restful sleep on those cold January nights. I've had a mound for 3 winters, and never had a problem. My advice is to let it grow long, because I've also talked to guys that have had their mound freeze up. Trust me, you DON'T want that.

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I stop mowing also. Technically, if the mound is functioning properly it should be able to keep itself thawed due to the heat generated by its own process. Whether leaving the grass long really helps or not I'd rather take precautions and deal with the extra grass on the first cutting in spring than to deal with a frozen septic mound in January.

Bob

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I don't have a "mound" I don't think... just flat area where drainfield is. This is my first septic system though. Not realy grass on it yet, just started growing from seed. Should I do anything to help insulate it like you are mentioning?

I know not to drive on it smile or drive over the pipe leading to it, but anything else to do to ensure it won't freeze up? This is at a cabin that will be used in winter, but only occassional weekends.

Thanks for any tips.

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My understanding is that bacterial action is the heat generator for a drain field. If it's only used occasionally, I suspect that there could be some potential issues with freezing as the field wouldn't be able to maintain its own warmth. Adding straw or something as an insulator might not be a bad idea. I could be wrong though.

Bob

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If it was installed correctly you shouldn't have trouble if it's a home that is used regularly. Cabins etc. are another thing however. I had a standard septic system for 18 years with no problems. The three women in the house used enough hot water to keep it going no matter what.

If I was in an area where there was frost pentration past 40 inches or so then I'd do something to make sure the lines didn't freeze, particularly if there's only one or two people in the place. Boths, long showers and clothes washing with warm water should take care of it.

Finally if I was concerned about it I'd do a heck of a lot more than just let the grass grow and hope that the snow catches on it. Straw doesn't cost much and you can always use it in the garden in the spring.

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If the mound is out in an open area that gets alot of wind that would blow snow off it, you could throw a few tree branches ontop of the mound before winter which will hold snow ontop when the wind blows. Some golf courses do this on elevated greens that get strongs winds in the winter to trap snow ontop of the green to add insulation to the turf.

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I have had a mound system going on 6 years now and I had all the fears that I've read here and more.

If it is functioning properly you should not have to do a thing.

As a matter of fact my son drives his snowmobile over the darn thing all winter. Also as you all know we have not had much snow to speak of the last several years and my mound is mostly bear ground most of the winter...and he still drives his snowmobile over it! Dont worry if you live there it wont freeze up!

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A trench system by code is I believe 18" deep max. At one time it was 36".

With that system at a cabin there won't be much heat from bacterial action. What we put down the drain has a lot to do with how active that bacteria is also. Household chemicals will kill bacteria.

Anyway a system that isn't producing much heat from bacterial growth and relative close to the surface could freeze. I don't thing that not mowing the grass IMO isn't going to do much as far as adding insulation. Keeping the soil from compacting will help.

If I had a cabin that didn't get used much I'd probably lay some hay down and then cover with plastic. Come Spring spread the hay over the yard. It'll seed and provide shade for new grass at the same time.

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Okay, let me pick your knowledge a bit. I have just finished insulating my cabin (septic system with drainfield) for the purpose of using it during winter for the occasional snowmobile weekend. There will not be running water as the water runs underneath the cabin thru open-air crawl space. I intend to fill a few pickle buckets of water from the neighbor's house to use for flushing the toilet. Maybe heat a bit of water on the stove for washing up, etc.

Am I asking for trouble? This is the first I've been informed about the issue of "no active bacteria: no heat generation" but I do understand the concept.

Even if the waste flushes into the tank and then freezes there would that be a problem? A toilet of waste is about, what, 3 gallons? I think the tank is 250 gal if I remember correctly.

Anyone with knowledge or experiences in this area please respond.

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I'm going to plunge right in.

So you have the cabin winterized. All water lines are drained, sink traps drained and replaced with anti freeze. Toilet tank, bowl, and trap drained. Water in bowl and trap replaced with anti freeze. The well and pressure tank are drained.

Now if you use the toilet and flush with a bucket you'll have to drain the bowl and trap and replace with antifreeze again. About the antifreeze, you would us and RV type anti freeze.

If you haven't used your sinks and toilets yet the there won't be anything in the septic tank. If you have used them then there will be something in there but it might not be up to the outlet level yet. You most likely have a 1000 gallon tank.

I wouldn't think the tank would freeze its usually the line from the house to the tank or the drain field. Your more apt to have something freeze from water trickling or dripping faucet. So a flush isn't a trickle.

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Hey ST, thanks for the response. Yes, all of those assumptions are correct,except that I dont actually empty the traps. I just estimate how much water they are holding and then slowly pour an equal estimated amount of antifreeze in, figuring that as long as it is somewhat close to 50/50 then I'll be okay. That seems to have worked the past three years and that is what I intend to do after weekend usage thru the winter.

Thats what I thought about as long as I'm flushing quantities at a time, it'l flow right into the tank alright. So thanks again for confirming that this should work, it's always nice to have a second opinion.

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