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Old 02/10/09, 01:20 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1
frozen septic

I have a problem with a frozen septic line. I've heard of people burning charcoal on the ground to thaw them, but I've never done this. Has anyone done this? Do you have to dig down to the pipe?
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Old 02/10/09, 01:51 PM
Cabin Fever's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
Posts: 14,582
I suggest you hire a septic guy that uses pressurized steam.

Then, I'd check all of your faucets and toliets for drips. It's generally those leaky fixtures that causes your septic line to freeze.
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Old 02/10/09, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Northern Wisconsin
Posts: 799
100% agree with Cabin Fever.

If indeed the line from your house to the septic tank is frozen, the usual procedure for thawing it out is:
1. thawing out the ground so that one may open the cover to their septic tank. Charcoal works great, but one must enclose the that the heat goes INTO the ground, not up into the air.
2. after the cover to the tank has been thawed, the cover is removed. Then, most septic guys have a setup that unthaws the pipes.....working from the tank.....back into the house. Pressurized steam works great.

If you are located in Vilas County, Wisconsin and you have frozen septic pipes this year, something is drastically wrong. With the snow cover we currently have, pipes should not be freezing.
Are humans or even deer walking over your septic lines? Are vehicles (car/truck/snowmobiles) driving over the septic lines. These things will push frost deeper into the ground.

Call a septic professional. Most have a setup and the knowledge to thaw out frozen septic pipes. Take steps to insure this never happens again.
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Old 02/10/09, 06:19 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 1,110
I have been renovating a mobile home that is not quite done yet. The bathtub faucet drips a little, and I thought "well that should help keep the water supply flowing". Alas, as Cabin points out, things did not work out so well downstream and the drain line froze.

The septic tank has an above ground lid, which is covered by an insulated box, some snow and hay bales. I tried to find a way to run a hose back up the drain line, but could not defeat the baffles without getting a wetsuit and actually descending into the tank.

I tried popping the toilet off, and then feeding the hose down from the other end, but too many corners.

I ended up going on the roof and feeding the hose down the vent stack. I then set it on a hot water trickle. this started to melt the ice, but the water backs up into the house over the toilet flange. So I had to basically suction the water out of the toilet flange at the same rate as the hose was running, using an empty plastic pop bottle.

Four hours later, presto!

If you have access to a steam guy, it will be money well spent.
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