The role of a septic system is to provide an on-site, efficient, and environmentally friendly method for treating and disposing of household wastewater in areas without access to a centralized sewer system. The system is made up of several components, including a septic tank, drainfield, and distribution box.
A septic system is a significant cost to a homeowner and, naturally, you would like to know how long a septic system lasts, or what is the life of a septic system. In this article we go into the major components of a septic system, the different materials they can be constructed from and how to do proper maintenance to ensure the life of your septic is long.
A well maintained septic system will last 40-50+ years. During this time you will need to perform regular maintenance and the addition of a septic tank additive can significantly reduce the stress on the system and the number of times it needs to be pumped.
The septic system describes the entire system that takes the waste from your home, processes it and distributes sanitised, clean water onto your property. Many people don’t know the different components. It is important to know what type of septic system you have, as components may vary.
A septic system is typically made up of the following components:
A septic system is designed to provide primary wastewater treatment by separating and treating the waste in a natural way before it is absorbed into the soil
The septic tank’s primary function is to separate liquid and solid waste, allowing solids to settle at the bottom and scum to float at the top. The treated liquid, or effluent, then flows into the drainfield, where it is further treated as it percolates through the soil. This process helps to remove contaminants and protect human and environmental health.
Septic tanks are commonly constructed from the following materials:
A well-designed and well-built concrete septic tank can last for about 40+ years. There are usually no external variables that will decrease the lifespan of a concrete septic tank if the tank was built out of high-quality concrete. However, it’s important to note that the actual lifespan of a septic tank can be influenced by factors such as the quality of the concrete, water table, soil acidity, and maintenance techniques and environmental factors like types of trees near the concrete tank or if you drive over the concrete septic tanks.
Fiberglass septic tanks can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years, depending on various factors such as construction methods, soil conditions, and the materials used during manufacturing. Proper construction and anchoring are essential to ensuring the longevity of a fiberglass septic tank. While fiberglass and plastic septic tanks can last for decades, it’s important to consider factors such as installation depth and soil conditions, as they can impact the tank’s lifespan
A steel septic tank can have a relatively short lifespan compared to other materials like a concrete tank. Typically a steel tank will last between 15 to 20 years due to the tendency of steel to rust and corrode over time. Regular inspections are important to catch any rusting early and prevent irreparable damage.
plastic septic tanks have an average lifespan of around 30 years, making them a durable choice for wastewater management. Factors such as proper installation, soil conditions, and maintenance can influence the actual lifespan of a plastic septic tank
To prolong the life of a septic tank, the following maintenance tasks are recommended:
A septic drain field, also known as a leach field, is an essential part of a septic system that serves to eliminate and manage waste and impurities from the water released by the septic tank. It works by dispersing the treated liquid, or effluent, into the soil through a network of perforated pipes or chambers. The soil then acts as a natural filter, removing contaminants and impurities from the effluent as it percolates through the ground. This process helps prevent waste runoff, protects against the ingestion of wastewater by animals, and ensures that the septic tank does not overflow. Proper care and maintenance, such as avoiding the introduction of solids, fats, oils, and grease into the system, are essential to preserving the functionality and longevity of the drain field.
Many of the points that prolong your septic tank will also prolong the life of your drain field and the entire septic system. The key thing to remember is that the drain field can get clogged easily from fat, hair, synthetic items. So it is important to ensure your tank is pumped correctly and you have a quality septic tank treatment to reduce many of the organic waste clogging your leach field.
Additional areas of maintenance specific to your leach field are:
Signs of a failing septic system or reasons septic systems fail include:
These signs can indicate a failing septic system, which can result from inappropriate design, poor maintenance, or other issues. Regular maintenance, proper operation, and routine inspections can help prevent septic system failure and a septic tank replacement.
As a septic system owner you want your septic system life to be as long as possible. A concrete tank can last 100 years, but this would be outside the norm of how long septic tanks last, be it concrete or a steel septic tank.