If your home has its own septic system to treat household water waste, you need to maintain it properly so as to prolong its life. Regular septic pumping and cleaning can go a long way in making the system work properly. Unfortunately, there are times when your septic tank can start leaking or showing other signs of damage. Knowing when something is wrong with the tank can allow you to call in a septic tank service for repairs before it completely falls apart and becomes an environmental hazard. Read on for signs that your septic tank isn't structurally sound.
Deformed access lid
The first sign of a damaged septic tank is a deformed access lid. On a concrete tank, the top should be elevated to prevent corrosion and cracking. Inspect the lid for any flaking or exposed rebar, both of which are indicators of corrosion and a sign that the lid should be replaced. A septic service contractor can then be called in to inspect whether the rest of the tank is also structurally deformed and needs replacing or whether only the lid is damaged.
For a plastic tank, check whether the lid or access hole is misshaped, and then have the tank pumped and inspected for any deformity that would indicate structural issues necessitating a replacement of the entire tank. Talk to your septic service about correctly anchoring the new tank with backfill to prevent it from getting deformed in the future.
Dropping levels of effluent
A septic tank should typically be filled up to the outlet pipe as long as the house stays occupied, so any drop in the effluent below this level indicates a leak in the tank. This is dangerous, as toxic bacteria from the scum can leach into the surrounding soil and cause an environmental hazard. If you suspect leaking, inspect the tank for cracks, which usually show as dark areas along the walls of the tank. A cracked tank can either be sealed up or replaced depending on where the damage has occurred and the overall condition of the tank.
If your home has been unoccupied for a few weeks, a slight drop in effluent level may not necessarily indicate a leak, as evaporation can also affect the level in the tank. A good test to check if there is a leak present in this case is to fill the tank with water to the outlet pipe, then wait for a few hours without running any water from the house. If the tank level drops, a leak may be present and the tank may need to be patched up or replaced.