what is the lifespan of a septic tank?

What is the Lifespan of a Septic Tank?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • The average lifespan of a septic tank ranges between 20 and 40 years if it is well maintained, properly installed, and used appropriately.
  • The lifespan of a septic tank is reliant on a variety of factors, like the tank material, type of soil, and maintenance schedule.
  • Homeowners can extend the life of their septic tank by conducting regular maintenance, conserving water, and being responsible about what goes down the drain.
  • A professional underground maintenance service can provide support with managing and removing septic tanks as needed.

Septic tanks play a crucial role for homes and businesses, helping to direct waste and water from the building and properly manage the plumbing. Although it’s easy to forget about these tanks since they sit underground and do their job without much commotion, it’s impossible to have a septic tank that will last forever. Therefore, you should think about your septic tank and how to preserve it.

Understanding your septic tank lifespan will prepare you to keep your property and your septic system in the best possible shape. Keeping up with regular septic tank maintenance and following steps to protect your system will help extend the lifespan of your tank.

What Factors Influence a Septic Tank Lifespan?

Because there are so many different factors that influence a septic tank, it’s difficult to have an exact estimate of how long any septic system will last. However, having a reference point of what factors affect your septic tank can help you gather a better estimate of your system’s lifespan and maintenance needs.

These factors include:

  • Tank material – Septic tanks can be made from a variety of different materials, and some last longer than others. Concrete tanks are considered most durable, while steel is likely to rust sooner.
  • Soil type – The type of soil can have a significant influence on your tank’s health. If soil is more acidic, it may degrade the tank faster by rusting metal and breaking down concrete.
  • Installation process – If a septic tank is not properly installed, it could compromise the lifespan of the tank long-term.
  • Maintenance schedule – How regularly you maintain your septic tank plays a crucial role in its lifespan. Regular maintenance promotes a longer lifespan by preventing the tank from becoming overloaded.
  • The leach field – The leach field is the area around your septic tank, responsible for allowing wastewater into the surrounding soil. A leach field can fail if the soil is not absorbent enough or if the piping is damaged, leading to a breakdown of your tank.
  • Components – A septic system consists of more than just the tank, including components like the pipes and fittings that lead to it. If these components fail, so can your septic tank and the leach field around it.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Septic Tank?

The average lifespan of a septic tank is around 30 years, assuming that it has been properly maintained and cared for. Of course, this lifespan depends on all the above factors, with the type of septic tank being one of the most significant.

Depending on the material:

  • Concrete tanks can last over 40 years with regular maintenance.
  • Plastic tanks usually last over 40 years with consistent maintenance.
  • Steel tanks can usually last about 15-20 years before they start to rust.

Remember that these numbers can vary depending on other factors like the surrounding environment and the maintenance schedule, but these numbers are a good reference point. With this being the case, property owners do have a considerable amount of control in preserving the life of their tank if they take the right steps.

Strategies for Extending Septic Tank Lifespan

Compared to sewer systems, septic tanks require more regular maintenance. However, keeping up with this maintenance can help you extend its lifespan considerably by keeping your septic tank clean and in its best condition. Best practices for extending your septic tank’s lifespan include:

  • Regular maintenance – Have your septic tank pumped approximately every 3-5 years to prevent the tank from becoming overfilled.
  • Use water conservation strategies – Using less water puts less strain on your septic system, so try to conserve water use when possible.
  • Avoid putting grease down the drain – Septic systems aren’t designed for oils, chemicals, or fats. Avoiding putting these substances down the drain will prevent your tank from developing harmful build-up that could reduce its lifespan.
  • Be careful of additives Septic tank additives are often marketed as an easy fix for a septic tank, but they can have potentially harmful consequences. It’s better to leave maintenance and cleaning to the professionals.
  • Be conscious of your septic tank location – Avoid placing heavy items on top of the leach field. Weight on the ground area above your tank can break down the leach field, affect the pipes, and wear down your tank more quickly.

Keep in mind that regular maintenance can include both pumping and cleaning. Pumping removes liquids, scum, and floating solids from the tank to improve the bacteria and enzymes in the system.

Meanwhile, a cleaning removes everything from the tank, including all of the above as well as sludge settled at the bottom. However, regular septic tank pumping will reduce the need for a cleaning, which is usually only necessary when you’re experiencing issues with your tank.

Signs of Septic Tank Issues

If your septic tank is nearing the end of its lifespan, there is a strong chance that you will be able to tell. A failing septic system often coincides with several signs.

Some common signs of septic system problems include:

  • Water and sewage backup from toilets, drains, and sinks
  • Bathtubs, showers, and sinks draining slowly
  • Gurgling sounds coming from the plumbing system
  • Standing water or unexplained moisture near the septic tank
  • Odors around the septic tank or leach field
  • Thriving green grass directly above or around the septic tank

If you notice any of these issues, you should contact a professional septic tank maintenance service. There’s also the possibility that you will need to replace your septic system. Hiring a professional service will ensure you get the proper guidance so you can take the appropriate next steps.

If you’re unsure whether your septic tank is in a healthy condition, then you can contact a professional service for an inspection to provide additional guidance. A professional inspection can help you catch any issues before they become worse.

How Alpha Environmental Can Help

Septic tanks are a crucial part of homes and businesses and are designed to withstand the elements, but they are unlikely to last forever, with the average lifespan ranging between 20-40 years. However, proper maintenance and care can go a long way toward making a tank last as long as possible.

Alpha Environmental supports home and business owners around the Portland area and beyond in septic tank maintenance. We also provide a range of other services, depending on your home, like sewer line and scope inspections. We’ve been serving property owners for over 21+ years, and we have the tools, training, and experience to provide reliable service to extend your septic tank lifespan.

Contact Alpha Environmental today to schedule a free estimate for septic tank maintenance to ensure your home or business is in its best possible condition.

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