Preventing Plumbing Problems

Preventing Plumbing Problems

Why Does My Septic System Smell During Cold Weather?

by Calvin Simmmons

Many people expect that when the cold weather sets in, heating will be top on their list of concerns. Unfortunately, this kind of weather brings with it a lot of issues, and many other systems can also be affected.

Your septic system will not be spared from the cold weather, and one of the most common complaints of homeowners with septic tanks is the presence of a foul odor during cold weather. What could be behind this smell? As it turns out, there are many possible causes.

Frozen Drain Field

This is one of the more serious causes of septic smells when the weather gets really cold. The drain field can be frozen when the weather becomes too cold. This will mean the liquid from the septic tank will have no means of escaping, resulting in the system no longer working. Wastewater and gases will start to back up into your home. If a frozen field is the problem and the system isn't backing up yet, it's probably going to happen soon.

Partial Blockage

Your system may also be partially blocked, resulting in odors in your basement. A partial blockage will usually become an issue if there is increased use of the system. Blocked lines are an emergency that you should fix as soon as you become aware of it.


If you have a sluggish drain field, a large amount of water draining from appliances such as washing machines may cause back-venting. This may be more noticeable in cool weather, when the gases don't rise.

Blocked Vent Stack

The vent stack is a pipe that is installed to provide sewer gases with an escape route to keep them from building up in the system. These pipes also supply air that enables toilets and drains to flash properly. Snow or ice can block a vent pipe, and this will force the foul odors back into the house. You can try to knock the ice off to clear the vent stack, or you can pour hot water inside it to melt the ice. If the issue is recurring, you may have to insulate the vent stack.


One of the tougher problems to deal with when it comes to foul sewer gases in winter is seasonal winds. Seasonal winds can cause downdrafts, causing the foul gases to be blown back into your yard. The winds may also carry the gases to parts of the home where they're usually not detected. During mornings and evenings, the wind speeds may be quite low. This would make the odors more noticeable at these times.

For more information about or assistance with septic services, contact businesses like Koberlein Environmental Services.


About Me

Preventing Plumbing Problems

It isn't always easy to know where to start when it comes to household maintenance, but a few years ago I realized I needed a new septic system. We were having a problem with our drains draining properly, so we turned to some experts for some help. They walked us through every aspect of the plumbing process, and within a few days, we were having a brand new septic tank installed. It was great to see just how much better things ran when the septic was working, and this blog is evidence of how much something like that can help.