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Old 10-01-2015, 08:40 AM   #1
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Average life span of a Septic tank?


How long is a septic tank supposed to last? I am in the process of buying a home and based on some research i think the system is original from 1988. It was pumped by the seller and i plan on getting an inspection done. As I always lived on city sewerage the entire septic system idea is scaring the skin off my back. looking 2-10k in repairs if the septic goes bad and digging issues in the back yard/ monthly maintenance, buying liquids to poor in your sink and pumped every two years, tree roots. I just don't know enough about it and I am unsure how good the inspector i am hiring (recommended by my realtor). Is there a pro on here that can help ease my mind?
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Old 10-01-2015, 08:56 AM   #2
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I have lived with septic tanks for years. They last a very long time.

Regular pumping is required but every two years is over doing it unless you have a very large family or use a ton of water. I do mine every four years and it costs about the same as the annual sewer usage fee if I was hooked up.

Two never throw any treatment chemical down the drain. They are for the most part useless and always a waste of money.


Three watch the chemicals you thorough down the sink. I clean my latex paint brushes in the sink but I don't attempt to clean roller covers.

Four. Don't use the garbage disposal as a substitute for a compost bin or a garbage can. Small amounts of food bits left in the dishwater are ok.

Don't use excessive amounts of bleach or harsh cleaning chemicals. There are all kind of other reasons for avoiding those.

Also watch female hygiene products should not go down the drain.

The septic tank itself should not go bad . It might need a few minor repairs from time to time. What can give problems is the leaching field. My tank is 55 years old. The leaching filed has been replaced once by a prior owner. I have lots of large maples and oaks in my yard and roots have not been an issue . Some trees are notorious for causing issues. Willows are one. Keep heavy machinery off the leach field. No dump trucks, backhoes etc (nothing larger than a small bobcat)

So long as the prior owners pumped it regularly you should be good to go
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:02 AM   #3
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In some areas, they used steel tanks a number of years ago. They fail rather spectacularly when they rust out and collapse, leaving a nasty smelling sink hole in the yard. My mother had one that did that. Most are concrete, and should outlast you if properly maintained. I would think the fiberglass ones should be OK, too.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:12 AM   #4
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The tank itself should last for a century or more, if it is concrete, those plastic ones will eventually degrade from the harsh chemicals.

The leach field is sometimes a problem after a few decades due to the straw bedding in it degrading but lasts long too.

A box of RID-X every 5 years or so keeps the enzymes that break down the solids fresh.

Still need to pump it usually every 5 years or so just to prevent any backups, which coincides with a new enzyme treatment anyway.

And keep all caustics away as they kill the enzymes, and tampons will not degrade, just float and possibly plug the leach field.


GOOD LUCK on your new purchase.


ED
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Old 10-01-2015, 11:43 AM   #5
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#1 rule for septic tanks. Nothing goes down the drain that hasn't passed through a human first except single ply white toilet paper.
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Old 10-01-2015, 12:01 PM   #6
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The septic system generally consists of the sewage pipe from the house (usually PVC or similar plastic), the septic tank (concrete, plastic or occasionally steel), the outflow pipe from the tank to the distribution box, the distribution box (D-box), the laterals from the D-box into the field, and the field itself (usually sand and gravel fill). There may be a pump chamber, needed if the field is uphill of the tank.

Exact details vary considerably from place to place, usually controlled by the local Board of Health. A properly maintained septic system can last a very long time, up to 100 years by some reports. Maintenance consists of pumping the tank as necessary, typically every 2-10 years depending on how heavily the system is used, and replacing the pump and controls every 10 years or so if you have a pump chamber. My town does not permit use of any chemicals in the system, your town may have different recommendations.

You should hire your own inspector, NOT one recommended by the realtor. Your inspector should be thoroughly familiar with the operation of the system, and should perform a comprehensive investigation, including examination of the tank, the D-box, and the field if it is accessible. They should prepare a written report. In my town, the seller is required to hire an independent third party inspector to prepare a report prior to selling any house with a septic system, and the report must be filed with the Board of Health. This process is specific to your local jurisdiction, from the sounds of it you have to pay for the report where you are.
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Old 10-01-2015, 01:41 PM   #7
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Just came back from the inspector visit. Looks like we will not be purchasing the house. Came to find out there is a slab of cement in the back yard going over the ceptic pipe. The house also had a retainer wall ready to colapse. The inspector was very good and said "run from this house". Did not even charge me. Thank you all for your replies. You all make this forum great and proud to be a member here
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Old 10-01-2015, 03:12 PM   #8
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I would run as well. You can't cover a leaching filed or a tank . If there is a concrete proof back there then could have been a concrete truck as well. But don't let this deter you from looking out other houses with tanks
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Old 10-01-2015, 05:07 PM   #9
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Thank You for a rapid report back on the property.

YES RUN as fast as you can. As stated above if a concrete pad is over the tank, I wonder what else has been disguised instead of properly repaired.

Keep on searching for your ideal home, it is out there somewhere.

You might settle for a few things that you will want to improve on, but a septic that needs to be rebuilt ain't one of them.


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Old 10-01-2015, 06:38 PM   #10
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If they pumped the tank then your health department cannot verify that it is working well. Add a contingency in the contract to cover full replacement if once tested by your local heath department and it fails.
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Old 10-01-2015, 11:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
If they pumped the tank then your health department cannot verify that it is working well. Add a contingency in the contract to cover full replacement if once tested by your local heath department and it fails.
This is a great point--for future reference, if you're buying a house with septic it's best to get septic looked at *before* and after pumping.
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