If you have been living in your home for some time and the septic tank was installed well before you bought your home, then you may not think much about the tank and whether or not it is in good shape. As long as you schedule cleanings every few years, then you may not question the tank's condition. However, septic tanks do have a finite lifespan, like most constructions. Most tanks are likely to last at least 40 years. If you think that it is possible that your septic tank is at least 40 years old, then you should be looking for signs that the container has formed a leak. Keep reading to learn about some of these signs and also what should happen once they are noted.
What Are The Signs Of Septic Tank Leaks?
If you know a little about septic systems, then you probably know that you have a drainage field where water wastes flow out of the septic system. Drainage fields will often fail over time and require replacement. When this happens, you will typically see water coming to the surface of your property, and the drainage field will smell.
If you do not notice these signs, but instead see extremely dry and cracking soil above your drainage field, then this indicates that far less water is moving through the field than usual. This is a sign that there is a crack in the septic tank, and water is draining from the tank before it has an opportunity to reach the drainage pipe inside the septic tank. You may notice odors near the exterior of the tank when this happens, too.
If you live in a place where the water table is high, then you may have issues with water entering the tank instead of escaping from it. If your septic tank suddenly starts filling up much more quickly than it should and your drainage field appears flooded as well, then this is a sign that more water is moving in and through your septic tank. If your water usage has remained consistent, then this a sign of a leak.
When you notice a leak where water enters the septic tank, you may see water actually coming back up through your sinks and toilets. This can happen when the water table rises in the spring and the pressure increases on the outside of the tank. This is also a concern when the crack in the septic tank widens and allows more water to enter into the tank.
Another sign of a leak issue occurs when you notice a strong sewage smell close to a nearby stream, river, or lake. When this happens, a deep leak along the bottom of the tank will allow wastes to exit, mix with the groundwater, and flow to the closest waterway.
What Happens When A Leak Is Suspected?
If you suspect a leak in your tank, then it is wise to contact a septic professional at a company like Martin Septic Service Inc as soon as possible. This professional will leak-test the tank with either a hydrostatic or vacuum test. Hydrostatic tests show whether or not water levels drop when the septic system is not in use. Vacuum tests show if pressure changes in the tank.
If a leak is located, then the septic professional will provide you with several options for repair. If the tank is a concrete one, then the inside can be sealed. Cracks can also be filled in with concrete or other types of compounds. The tank will need to be pumped and cleaned before this can happen, but the repair is often far less expensive than a complete replacement.
If you have a steel tank or a plastic one that is damaged, then a replacement likely is required. These types of tanks simply cannot be easily repaired. In this case, the old tank can be filled in and left in place. A new site can be found for the new tank. This tank can be connected to the drainage field that is already in place. If you need a full tank replacement, then go with a plastic polyethylene variety. These types of tanks are the least expensive.