La Niña air movement image
La Niña's below-average snow cover could freeze water, sewer, and septic systems.

La Niña is predicted to bring below-average snowfall and brutal cold to some areas of North America over the 2016-2017 winter season. Only the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes, and Upper Northeast have a significant chance of above average snowfall due to very warm lake temperatures (The Weather Network).

What is La Niña?

In a nutshell, La Niña is a cooling of equatorial Pacific water which disrupts normal global weather patterns and temperature fluctuations causing severe drought in some areas and intense storms in others.

Over the 2016-2017 season, La Niña is expected to bring waves of arctic air to the Midwest from Saskatoon to Des Moines to Ottawa, causing bitter cold and hard, deep freezes. For people that depend on working fresh water lines, sewer pipes, and septic systems in these areas, a lack of snow cover can cause big problems.

Will natural insulation or adequate snow-cover solve the problem?

It takes around a foot or more of hay, straw, or mulch to protect pipes and septic systems from freezing under average conditions. While plant matter does provide insulation, there’s no guarantee a hard deep freeze won’t penetrate the layer and freeze the system.

Snow depends on depth to insulate pipes as well. In the Upper Midwest, the record deep freeze of 2014 penetrated 2 feet of snow cover to lock up sewer, water and septic systems buried 42 inches deep for months. In some areas, the frost line penetrated the ground a record 7 feet deep!

Are there alternatives to natural insulation to keep my pipes from freezing?

Fortunately, there are cost-effective ways to prevent water, sewer, and septic systems from freezing before a problem ever occurs.

Internal pipe heaters are easy to install, require no digging or wrapping, and most are safe for PVC, copper, ductile iron, steel, cast iron, polypropylene, and polyethylene pipe.

For example, HotLine’s ( internal pipe heaters prevent pipes from freezing with an economical, low-voltage product that is safe for complete immersion in wet or dry sewer lines, water lines, and septic sewer lines and tanks.

With La Niña expected to bring below average snowfall and hard freezing temperatures to many areas this winter, an internal freeze-protection device may be the solution you’re looking for.