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How to prevent your sewage system from breaking down over the Christmas period?

There’s no good time for your sewage system to breakdown but the Christmas holidays are without doubt the worst. There are, however, things you can do to avoid the misery of nasty smells and backed up sewage in your toilet during this year’s festive period. Here’s our useful guide:

Freezing weather

We all love the idea of a white Christmas but if the weather drops below zero this could affect your sewage treatment plant or septic tank. For example, the pipework between your house and the system or between the unit and your watercourse or drainage field could become damaged. You could also encounter issues with the unit itself.

If your system has been installed by credible installers, like Cotterill Environmental, this is unlikely to happen. If this is an issue that occurs more than once, you may need to add more insulation to the pipework. It’s also a good idea to be sure any leaks are identified and fixed before the winter arrives.

Holiday Visitors The Christmas period is the ideal time to catch up with your loved ones but an influx of visitors can also lead to issues with your sewage system. For example, water used for extra dish washing, toilet flushing, clothes washing and baths can put additional pressure on your system.

Ways around this could include opting for showers instead of baths. The other thing to be mindful of is ensuring that your guests don’t flush the wrong sort of items down the toilet, such as wet wipes, sanitary products etc. You may need to remind them you have an off mains system and/or put up a reminder notice in the toilet.

Taking a holiday It’s great to get away from all the chaos at Christmas but this can also lead to issues. An unused system is more likely to suffer from frozen pipework. You can help reduce the risk of this happening though by asking someone to pop in while you’re away to run the hot taps for a few minutes.

Food preparation Christmas is all about the turkey or goose as well as other festive foods but it’s important to avoid pouring too much oil, grease or fat down the sink. This can lead to a layer of scum in your septic system that can prevent the bacteria from working its magic, leading to a slow down in the decomposition of the sewage.

Snow on drainage field

If your system flows into a drainage field, you need to pay particular attention to this. If it becomes covered in snow or ice and the soil becomes compacted, it can mean that the septic tank isn’t as well insulated. If your tank becomes frozen, the wastewater won’t be as well filtered. You can avoid this by aerating the soil before the cold weather arrives as well as avoiding driving over the drainage field with any vehicle.

Sludge build up

Bacteria in septic tanks are used to accelerate the decomposition of sewage. This bacteria is however very sensitive to temperature. It works best at 10-12 degrees celsius. Below this temperature, bacteria start to slow or even stop completely. If the bacteria is dormant, the waste is not digested and sludge will build up. You can avoid this issue by using cleaning products that are biological, avoiding acids and bleaches, emptying your septic tank before the cold weather sets in, choosing the right bacteria for your system and topping up bacteria levels monthly.

Make sure your system is regularly serviced

The best thing you can do to prevent any issues with your sewage system over the Christmas period is to ensure it is serviced by trusted professionals, like Cotterill Environmental. Most systems require an annual service and we can advise you of this depending on your model over the phone. Please contact us at or call us on 0121 461 4861

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