Concrete septic tanks can have shockingly long lifespans. However, these durable structures can begin to break down in various ways as they age. If you've recently purchased or inherited a home with an older septic tank, you may face some future repairs. Although you can choose to replace an older tank, it's often more cost-effective to repair it instead.
In general, it's a good idea to have an experienced plumber inspect any septic system that's new to you. This initial inspection can uncover issues and allow you to decide on the best course of action. If your home's septic tank already has a few decades under its belt, here are three problems you might expect an inspection to find.
1. Rotting Baffles
The baffles on your septic tank have a relatively straightforward job: allow effluent to flow across the tank while encouraging solids to sink to the bottom. Without the baffles, solids may float on the surface for longer than necessary, increasing the odds of a clog reaching your drain field. Solid waste exiting the drainfield can cause substantial damage, so it's best to avoid this situation.
Older tanks typically used concrete baffles, which tended to degrade over time. The baffles may even be completely gone if your tank is old enough. Repairing these baffles (usually by replacing them with PVC) will help your system last for as long as possible by reducing the likelihood of solid waste exiting into the drainfield.
2. Damaged Lids
Although concrete is highly durable, it's not invincible. Misusing a septic tank can by flushing the wrong kind of trash down drains can lead to excess hydrogen sulfide production. This gas will corrode the concrete, eating away at it from the inside. This effect is often why baffles fail, but it can weaken other parts of the tank, as well.
The lid is one of the more vulnerable portions of any septic tank. While it's rare for a lid to collapse on its own, a weakened lid may fail if you accidentally drive over it or place too much weight on the surface. Once a lid collapses, you'll need a professional to pump the tank, clean the debris, and install a new lid on-site.
3. Interior Cracks
Interior cracks are another issue that tends to occur as a tank nears the end of its lifespan, although poor usage can accelerate their formation. Septic tank cracks will create leaks that can cause environmental hazards and impact the system's ability to sanitize waste. You'll often discover cracks during routine inspections while pumping the tank.
Fortunately, it's usually possible to fix minor leaks. Once you know a leak exists, you'll need a qualified plumber to investigate it and determine if you can repair your tank. Always rely on professionals for this job and never attempt to enter your septic tank yourself, as enclosed spaces such as this can be incredibly hazardous.
For more information about septic tank repair, contact a local company.