Nearly one-quarter of American households use septic systems to treat their wastewater while the rest rely on municipal sewer systems. While sewer systems are the government's responsibility to monitor and maintain, individual homeowners are responsible for their septic systems. This means that you need to stay alert for signs of trouble with your septic system. Here's what you need to know about a problem that can be hard to detect: septic tank leaks.
Why do septic tanks leak?
Septic tanks can leak for lots of different reasons. If your tank is made of steel, it will eventually rust on the bottom and on the sides of the tank; when the rust eats through the steel, sewage will spill out into the soil. Concrete septic tanks can crumble if they are made of poorly mixed concrete, or they can be slowly eaten away by acidic soils. If you have large trees on your property, their roots can grow towards the tank, puncture it, and cause sewage to leak out. Not all of these problems are preventable
How do you know your tank is leaking?
Since your septic tank is buried underground, you won't be able to see the holes or cracks in the tank that are allowing liquids to seep out. Instead, you need to pay close attention to clues that this might be happening. The contents of your septic tank are nutrient-rich and are a very strong fertilizer, so if they leak out into the soil, the grass above your tank will be a more vibrant green than the grass in other parts of your yard. The grass in that area may also need to be cut more often.
A leaky tank may also cause a strong sewage odor in your backyard. If you notice any bad smells, untreated sewage may be leaking out of your tank and into the soil. Other problems, like forgetting to get your tank pumped, can also cause bad odors, so you'll need to have your tank inspected by a plumber to know for sure what the problem is.
Can the tank be repaired?
Your tank may be able to be repaired, depending on the cause of the leak. If the leak was caused by a tree root, the root can be removed, and the hole can be plugged. If the leak was caused by widespread rusting of the tank, the tank has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced.
If you have a septic tank, you need to be alert for signs that your tank is leaking. If you notice these signs, immediately call a plumber such as Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.