Concrete, fiberglass, and plastic are the three most common options for septic tank materials. In practice, the decision is usually more straightforward: should you choose a concrete tank or an alternative material? Concrete has typically been the material of choice, but there are valid reasons for selecting fiberglass or plastic for residential and commercial applications.
As with any significant decision regarding your property, you'll need to consider your budget and specific needs. This simple three-point checklist will help you to decide if concrete might be the right choice for you.
1. Are You Facing Local Regulatory Restrictions?
Concrete tanks will always be the safest choice when it comes to meeting municipal regulations. Although most locations have now approved the use of alternative materials, plastic or fiberglass may not be an option in all areas. Property restrictions, such as the presence of nearby groundwater, may limit your options when installing lighter material tanks.
In most cases, new septic designs will require approval from local government agencies. Consulting with a contractor that has experience in your area is usually the best plan. A local contractor can warn you if the difficulty in obtaining a permit for a plastic or fiberglass tank in your area may make concrete a better option.
2. Does Your Property Have Access Issues?
Concrete tanks have many advantages, but they are large and heavy. Moving even a relatively small concrete tank into place requires heavy equipment and significant human resources. Depending on your property's layout, getting this equipment on-site may not be a trivial task. The weight of concrete can be a particularly severe hurdle when installing a large tank.
Plastic and fiberglass tanks are much lighter and require fewer resources to install. Hooking up a fiberglass tank to the rest of the septic system also tends to be more straightforward. Both of these advantages work well if you will be installing your tank in a tight or inaccessible location.
3. How High Is Your Local Water Level?
As strange as it may sound, a buried septic tank can float, even while underground. The weight of concrete typically keeps these tanks solidly grounded, but a plastic tank may move towards the surface if the ground becomes saturated. If you are installing a tank in an area with a high water table, then plastic may be unsuitable due to this threat.
Ultimately, concrete is the best choice in most circumstances, but its high cost and installation challenges sometimes make it unsuitable. If cost is a concern and local conditions and regulations allow, you may want to discuss plastic or fiberglass alternatives with your tank installer. For more information about a concrete septic tank or other alternatives, contact a local septic service.