Appropriately designed plumbing systems in climates that are subject to freezing temperatures are of utmost importance. All components of the water system must be evaluated carefully, including storage, supply, waste, vent, and septic systems.
The more extreme the conditions, the more critical the need for a properly designed system. Proper plumbing design, materials, installation, and service will ensure your water needs are met no matter the conditions in the frigid north.
While many Alaska homes are on ground that cannot support such infrastructure, the traditional system for handling water and wastewater is a septic tank and leachfield. Septic tanks prevent unprocessed waste from leaching directly into the soil or groundwater. Inside the tank, sewage is gradually broken down by anaerobic bacteria, with treated effluent emptying from the end and untreatable solids sinking to the bottom.
The tank is connected to a series of perforated pipes leading into your yard and forming a drain field, allowing effluent to disperse over a large area and mix with oxygen and soil. Soil has a natural ability to filter organic waste, thereby nearly perfecting the waste treatment process.
Homes that are unable to install a buried septic tank (because of permafrost or shallow bedrock, for example), often use mounded, or above-ground, systems. This consists of a sand mound containing a drainfield trench.
Effluent from the septic tank flows to a pump chamber where it is pumped to the mound in prescribed doses. Treatment of the effluent occurs as it discharges to the trench and filters through the sand, and then disperses into the soil.
While mound systems can be a good solution for certain soil conditions, they require periodic maintenance and, in a cold climate like Alaska, are subject to freezing.