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Aging Septic Tank? Treat It With Care!

by Russell Lowe

A concrete septic tank can last 40 years or longer, and a steel septic tank can last about 15—20 years. If your tank is reaching the end of its life expectancy, treating it with care can extend its life and prevent you from having to replace it so soon. Here are some key ways to "be nice" to your aging septic tank.

Watch your water usage.

The more water that flows through your septic tank, the more wear and tear it experiences. If you can take steps to reduce your water usage, you may extend the life of your tank. Just some basic tactics like the following can reduce your water usage dramatically:

  • Turn the water off when you brush your teeth.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so you don't have to run the water until it gets cold.
  • Take fewer showers. Only bathe when you are dirty.
  • Put water-conserving showerheads and faucet heads on your plumbing devices.
  • Don't wash laundry until you have a full load.

Use fewer harsh cleaning chemicals.

Bacteria in your septic tank break down waste so that it can eventually be flushed out into the surrounding leech field. If there are not enough of these bacteria, the breakdown process slows down and waste may sit around in the tank too long, causing it to erode more quickly. Cleaning chemicals like bleach and ammonia can harm the bacteria in your tank. They can directly contribute to erosion of the tank itsel—so try to minimize your use of these compounds. Opt for green, natural cleaning products like baking soda and white vinegar whenever possible.

Don't put anything heavy on top of the tank.

You should really take this precaution even with a younger septic tank, but it becomes even more important as a tank ages and becomes weaker. Do not park a vehicle over the area where your septic tank is located. You also don't want to put anything else heavy—like a swing set or a stack of wood—directly above the septic tank, since it will put pressure on the tank and may cause it to cave in. If you're not sure where your tank is, look at your home's blueprints or have a septic service come locate it so you can be sure to take this precaution.

Just because your septic tank has been around a while does not mean it has to quit working anytime soon. Protect your older tank by taking the steps above, and it will keep serving you for years to come. For more information, contact companies like Sullivan Septic.