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crappace

Septic Pipe Freeze Up...Help!!!

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We have holding tanks at the cabin just north of Mille Lacs. Our pipe from the house to the tanks freezes reqularly and its getting old quick. Do any of you have this problem and what do you do to fix it???

We have tried insulating above it with hay bails with no luck. We are considering heat tape in the pipe but have heard that might not be the best idea...

Thanks

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My solution would be to dig up the line in the spring, replace the drain pipe and wrap with a heat tape (I know they say to never wind them... or use the metal ones), insulate with the pipe wrap and insulate again w/ 1 1/2" yellow styrene strips, bottom,sides and top. Back fill carefully and don't walk or drive over your line.

I realize this don't help now. I have thawed sewer lines with hot salt water.

Sorry for your troubles.

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Do you know how deep the tile line is?

I'm quessing it is shallower than 4 to 5 feet.

Burning corn cobs, draws heat down to 2 1/2 feet. Have done this in the winter to dig things up to repair to get thru the frost layer.

Hope this helps if needed.

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This is from the Home Depot web site...

"Outdoor piping should be buried below the frost line when possible. If it's too deep or you can't dig, you can still protect pipes from damage during the winter months. Cover shallow pipes with a sheet of polystyrene foam to insulate them."

I dont know the specifics but my cousins company has been doing some testing with burying polystyrene on top of pipes and has found a significant difference in frost depths when it is used. It wont do you any good this year but may be a cheaper option to digging the whole line deeper.

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Next year I will be digging, laying new pipe, and insulating. Good idea. Its about 2.5-3ft under at the tank and works up slightly to the house. If its frozen again on friday night I will have it steamed again then run gutter tape in there till spring I guess.

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If you re-do it in the warmer months, make sure it is at the proper slope. MN reg's say 1/8 inch per foot slope for proper drainage (this is for 3 & 4 inch DWV).

Have you checked to see if there is a "low point" in the line?

Placing ridgid foam above the line, will help prevent freezing.

river-rat4

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A majority of these freeze ups are caused by a dripping faucet, a leaky seal in the tank of your toilet, and most over looked the condensate line comming from your furnace. eliminate these issues and your problem should go away.

if your in sandy soil and your condensate line is going into a floor drain, you could drill a hole threw the floor and let it go into the ground.

Its the trickle of water that freezes up Not usualy the normal useage like toilet flushes, showers, dishwashing etc.

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I'd agree with minneman. Check for slow leaks or the condensate from the furnace. I had a friend with the same problem a few years ago and we ran the line from the furnace into a condensate pump and ran the line from the pump out the side of the house and not down the floor drain.

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As stated above...if your pipe between house and tank are freezing up it would either be insufficient drop or grade of the pipe itself or a slow leak someplace in the cabin that allows a trickle of water to go down the pipe constantly, freeze and slowly build up. Does it happen when your up there using it or just when your gone and come back?

Essentially after the sinks are shut off and toilets are done flushing there shouldn't be any "water" left in the pipe.

I had a friend that had this happen to him as his new house was bein finished in the winter time. The furnace had a drip/condensation tube running out of it and into a floor drain in the basement. Slowly froze the pipe up solid. Luckily the sewer lines weren't hooked up yet and we could go in the tank and run hot water through a pressure washer, feeding the line up the pipe.

Insulating the pipe may help some but if there is a slow leak and your gone for some time there is a chance that it is going to still freeze up.

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This is a cabin that has no furnace. Its got baseboard heat that is always on in a mudroom and a bathroom. The crawl space is heated with an electric heater as well. We put die in the toilet tanks to see if they were leaking into the bowls and causing a drip. No leaks there. It must be a dip in the line that was installed in 92.

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Sounds like no one knows what holding tank is!No bacteria no emzime break down like a septic no natural HEAT.Your idea of gutter heat tape sounds lika a good fix for now!BUT next summer dig it up!Put heat tape (not the cheap stuff)on the bottom of pipe,wrap with fiferglass insulation 3&1/2 inch, tape in place then wrap in plastic and tape in place next use rigid 2 inch insulation under,each side,and on top. Remember to plug in tape each year and unplug in spring.I think the heat tap in 6 foot length is about $70.00. PS Did you make sure your vent stack isn't clogged??

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If everything from the cabin (i.e. bathroom "waste") is going into the holding tank, there will for sure be bacteria working away. The only thing different then a holding tank and an actual septic tank is that the liquids obviously aren't allowed to A. Go into a drainfield or B. Go to a pump tank were they are lifted to a drainfield, mound, etc.

With this said, there still probably (or should I say obviously) isn't enough heat produced to keep a run of piping thawed out. Even more so when you are talking that the piping isn't all that deep into the ground (as compared to a full basement house where piping may not get less then 5-6+ feet of cover over the pipe).

Sparcebag does offer some great ideas to assure piping stays warm and ice free even if there is some leaking by something in the cabin (which it sounds like your confident that you eliminated).

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There's some pretty good advice here and I'd echo what most have said. What we do, however, on projects with shallow pipes is design them to have 2 layers of 2" thick styrophoam boards over the top of the pipe. Probably wouldn't hurt to put 2 boards side by side either making it 4' each way across the pipe. Stagger the styrophoam board joints.

Another option you could consider, depending on the lay of the land, is to haul in fill to make the pipe deeper under ground. However, this depends on a number of factors and may not be the cheapest option.

Just to throw out some other ideas off the top of my head:

- Make sure the tank isn't full and backed up the pipe.

- As others have said, make sure there is proper slope (1/8" per foot or greater) and there aren't any sags in the pipe.

- Wouldn't hurt to televise the line to find out 1)If there are sags 2)If the pipe is collapsed 3) If the pipe is full of roots or other debris blocking the flow 4) If a joint has separated 5) The pipe material used and the condition of the interior pipe wall (should be PVC if built in 1992 but not always) 6) If groundwater is infiltrating the pipe

All kinds of stuff to consider. Keeping the tank drained, finding any flow contributions to the pipe during times of non-use and putting heat tape and insulation should help resolve the problem.

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One thing you should check is the inlet baffle on the tank, sometimes after the pipes are backfilled they move and can be to close to the baffle and cause backups, this probably isn't the case because you say its only in cold weather that you have the problem but its worth checking. If the line doesn't get any traffic over it and you don't have some sort of drip than I'd say you don't have enough slope, or its a thin wall pipe, in the early 90's I don't think it was code to have schedule 40 from the house to the tank, so it could be thinwall pipe thats gotten deformed over the years, but I'd defiantly say you have a bow in the line. As far as insulating goes its not a bad idea, but honestly the slope of the pipe and proper backfilling will be 10x more important than insulation.

One other consideration would be to check your tank and see if it has a layer of ice in it, we had one a week ago that was a seasonal cabin w/ a drainfield and a shallow tank and due to lack of use and no snow cover had developed about 1/2 of ice in it, this caused the baffle to ice over and everything backed up from there.

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It was frozen solid when we got there Friday night ( after getting one 4 lb pout on Mille Lacs ). Saturday we ran the heat tape in there and we will see how it does this week. It was fine Saturday night and it was really chilly. Another trick dad mentioned was putting a gallon of RV antifreeze down there so it settles in the low spot of the pipe...neither of these is permanent but it'll work till spring.

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Assuming that your tank is not full, it seems odd to me that the pipe is fine and then it's blocked full when you get back up there. Once again I'm back to water/liquid trickling in confused.gif

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Quote:

Assuming that your tank is not full, it seems odd to me that the pipe is fine and then it's blocked full when you get back up there. Once again I'm back to water/liquid trickling in
confused.gif


I think what is happening is like mentioned above. There is a dip/sag in the pipe that was freezing without use when we are not there. When we are there, showers and other normal use is happening so it doesnt freeze. Now that we have the heat tape in the pipe, hopefully it will stay thawed out while we are not there. If we had a drip...it would fill it up according to the man that pumps the tanks. He also mentioned that when he steams the line it problem area is always about 5-6 feet from the tank towards the cabin. In the spring we will find out!

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