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Why do septic tanks collapse

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Why do septic tanks collapse

Everything corrodes, even stainless steel, aluminum, plastic composites, and concrete. In a septic tank environment, it’s not the liquid that causes damage, but rather the gases at the top of the tank. Over time, these can lead to the material becoming weak, rusting, or becoming brittle and starting to crack.

About 20 years ago in Rhode Island, an elderly man went to check his mailbox and didn’t return. When his wife went to look for him, worried he might have slipped on ice or snow, she found his legs sticking out of a hole in their yard. The top of their 30-year-old stainless steel tank had corroded, and when he stepped on it, he fell in upside down. Fortunately, he was trapped by his shoulders and didn’t go all the way in.

She called 911, and fire/rescue managed to extract him. He was also fortunate that the methane gas didn’t poison him, which can happen to contractors who assume a tank is safe, enter to make repairs, and then succumb to the fumes. Sometimes, another contractor might jump in to help, thinking the first had a heart attack, and suffer the same fate. But that grandfather sure had an incredible story to share at Christmas about how he spent 45 minutes of his life a few weeks before.

*There was a time when stainless steel tanks were marketed as lasting “forever.” Reality proved otherwise; they last about 20–30 years. It’s doubtful you can even purchase them anymore.

Proper Maintenance and Venting

You can significantly slow this corrosion process if the tank is properly vented; the gases escape back up through the vent system in the house and out the roof vent. With proper venting, a concrete tank can easily last 50, 75, or even over 100 years—a pretty good value when you consider it. Replacing it is relatively inexpensive. Also, with proper use and maintenance, the drain field can potentially last indefinitely, though some might disagree.

That’s a good reason to have your system inspected every 2-3 years and pumped as needed. Inspectors use a tool called a sludge judge to measure the solids in the tank and determine if it needs to be pumped—typically when solids reach about 25% of the tank’s capacity, though this varies by household depending on factors like number of people, diet, and cleaning products used.

Inspections and Preventive Measures

Regular inspections can also detect tanks starting to weaken, improper items being flushed—like harsh chemicals, which kill beneficial bacteria and rapidly degrade the system, or non-biodegradable items like cigarette butts, condoms, and wet wipes which can clog the drain field. They can also check for issues like a detached baffle, which is crucial for septic tank operation, or tree roots growing into the tank.

United Septic and Grease: Why do septic tanks collapse

To save money, consider coordinating with your neighbors to negotiate lower costs for these inspections, so a contractor can service several homes in one area. Making inspections quick and easy by properly landscaping over your tank allows them to perform an inspection in minutes, write a report on the condition of your system, and move on to the next house.

Should you require assistance with Septic Inspections Service,do not hesitate to contact our team of experts at United SEptic & Grease Services 



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