Septic tank leaks can be a frustrating and expensive problem. Even worse, many leaks may go unnoticed for a substantial amount of time. If a leak in your tank isn't affecting your system's operation, you may not notice it for weeks, months, or even years. Unfortunately, your tank will spend this time leaking untreated wastewater under your property and into the environment.
Understanding why these leaks occur and how to spot them is critical to being a responsible septic system owner. More importantly, you should know how to address these leaks to restore your system and prevent potentially costly and hazardous environmental contamination.
Why Do Concrete Septic Systems Leak?
Concrete is a porous material, but installers construct concrete tanks to be as watertight as possible. A well-maintained tank without any damage should generally not leak any wastewater into the surrounding environment, nor should it allow groundwater to leak into the tank. However, concrete tanks can deteriorate or crack over time.
Misuse is the most common cause of septic tank leaks. While concrete is a strong material, your tank's lid's load-bearing capacity is limited to the soil above it. Parking cars or constructing small structures such as sheds over septic systems can severely strain the tank. As a result, cracks and leaks in lids are relatively common.
Leaks can also develop due to concrete deterioration, which may occur due to corrosive gases that naturally form inside the tank. This deterioration can cause baffles to crumble or weaken the tank's structure, increasing the likelihood of cracks and leaks. Routine pumping may help reduce gas buildup and prolong the tank's life.
What Should You Do When You Discover a Leak?
Severe leaks may cause noticeable damp areas around the tank or even result in flooding. On the other hand, minor leaks can be hard to detect. In most cases, you'll discover these leaks when a routine inspection turns up unusually low effluent levels inside the tank. While these leaks may not cause dramatic problems in your yard, they can still contaminate groundwater.
In addition to environmental considerations, septic tank leaks can have monetary consequences. Some states or cities may impose fines for unmaintained or unrepaired septic tanks, and cleaning up the environmental damage caused by a leaking tank can be costly. The longer you leave a leak unaddressed, the more expensive these consequences can become.
Fortunately, you can often repair leaks in septic tanks. A qualified septic system contractor can often replace a cracked lid, and you may be able to pour a new floor to repair leaks at the ground level. Cracks in walls can be more challenging, but patch options may be available depending on the severity. While these options have associated costs, prompt repairs will save you money in the long run.
For more information about residential septic tank repairs, contact a local company.