If you live in Florida or Southern California, count yourself lucky that you've never known the trials and tribulations of Wintertime pipe freezing. Everything from the septic pipes themselves to the leach line to the water source can freeze on you and leave you without a working toilet until, possibly, the Spring.

We've covered this topic before, mainly covering prevention. Today we'll list some quick-fixes that can help you to manage a frozen septic system when it's too late for prevention.

Frozen Water Source

Sometimes when you wake up in the Midwest, the pipes are just frozen solid. No water comes out of the shower or the faucet, or the toilet. The bacteria that occurs naturally in the septic pipe usually keeps it warm enough to prevent freezing, and failing that, septic pipes are pretty spacious compared to water pipes. If you have any exposed pipes outside, you can take a blowdryer to them if they're plastic, or even a blow torch if they're metal (and if you know what you're doing with a blow torch). You can also fit your pipes with heating tape, simple strips you plug into a wall outlet and then wrap around your pipe to keep the water flowing nicely. In the meantime, if your toilet is frozen but other water sources aren't, you can always keep a bucket of water on hand for refilling the tank.

Frozen Septic Pipe

A frozen septic pipe often means that you're leaking water directly into the pipe somehow. Even at below-freezing temperatures, you shouldn't be getting enough water in the pipe to block the whole works when it freezes, so the first step should be identifying the leak. Once you have that managed, there are a few things that you can do to deal with the frozen pipe itself. Detaching the pipe and pouring hot water on it may allow you to slide a big frozen cylinder of blackwater right out of the pipe (and be sure to bury it or something before it thaws in the Springtime). This isn't an enviable task, but it beats spending the Winter without a toilet. Graywater can be redirected to any safe outdoor area. Technically you can do that with blackwater if you're really out of options but that's not exactly safe or healthy, and it's not exactly legal, either.

Frozen septic systems are often due to bad septic nstallation or poor choice of parts. Once you make it through this Winter, it may be wise to consider how your system can be improved for the next one.