Diamonds are forever, but septic systems are not. It’s true that with proper care and maintenance a waste water system will last many years. However, any septic tank buried in the ground will eventually deteriorate. There are many factors that decide how fast a tank will deteriorate such as construction material, environmental factors, and the level of care it is given.
The life expectancy of a steel tank is shorter than a concrete one. Inspectapedia estimates that a steel tank baffles will rust out in 15 to 20 years and may collapse if driven over, but a concrete tank will last 40 years or more as long as the wastewater is not acidic. It’s important to consider the life expectancy of a drain-field, too. Under normal conditions and good care, a leach-field will last for 50 years or more.
Concrete septic tanks are sturdy and reliable but not indestructible. The biggest risk is exposing the concrete to acidic substances. Bacteria breaking down solid waste produces hydrogen sulfide gas. When hydrogen sulfide mixes with water vapors, such as the ones you’d find in a wastewater tank, it turns into sulfuric acid and eats away at the concrete. Keeping vents open and clear of debris will decrease the risk of sulfuric acid formation.
Signs of an aging septic system and the need for maintenance are as follows:
- A thick layer of sludge leaves less room to filter wastewater before draining. A healthy system’s top layer will be dark brown and full of worms. Keeping the sludge level low with regular draining will prevent overflow.
- Solid waste levels should not exceed one-third of the depth of the tank. To remedy this, have the tank serviced more often to prevent excess hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria.
- Crumbly concrete and rust colored streaks are signs of a structural problem that needs addressing immediately.
Septic systems require regular maintenance due to the effects of aging. Contact us today to schedule a septic tank check up!