How Long Does It Take To Replace A Septic System?

Here is the average time to replace a septic system after a period of use.

When you’re not connected to a central sewer system, the responsibility for maintaining your septic system will rest solely on your shoulders. Part of maintenance includes replacing the system once it’s no longer functional.

Under normal circumstances, it will be a couple of decades before you’ll need to overhaul the system.

A couple of decades sound quite vague. So, how long does it take to replace it?

This is what we’ll be discussing. This article focuses on the lifespan of a septic system, what component(s) requires replacement, how much the procedure costs among several other areas.

Parts of a Septic System

Before discussing the lifespan of a septic system and its replacement, it will be necessary to consider its many parts. As a system, different parts or sections are put or installed together to function seamlessly.

Basically, a septic system has five main components.

These components include the pipe or drainage connecting the home to the septic tank, the septic tank, and the drainage pipe from the septic tank to the drain field. Of course, there’s the drain field, and finally the soil.

Let’s take a look at each component, shall we?

i. House Drainage Pipe

As grey wastewater and black wastewater leaves the home, it’s channeled into the septic tank via the drainage pipe. This is usually designed to be large enough to accommodate wastewater from multiple points (toilets, sinks, bathrooms, etc).

ii. Septic Tank

The septic tank is one of the major components of the septic system.

This tank is mostly buried underground and helps separate wastewater into three distinct layers; the sludge at the bottom, effluent in the middle, and scum floating above.

A septic tank may be made of concrete, steel, plastic, or fiberglass.

The material a septic tank is made of will likely impact its lifespan

iii. Drainage Pipe from Tank to Drain Field

Connecting the septic tank to the drain field is the drainage pipe. This attaches to the outlet of the septic tank and conveys effluent to the leach field for further treatment.

Here, it’s obvious that no part of the septic system is less important than another.

iv. Drain Field

As the name suggests, the drain field is where partially treated effluent gets filtered with harmful bacteria removed before treated wastewater meets groundwater.

It needs to be properly constructed with non-retentive soils used.

v. Soil

Does this sound surprising to you? Soil is actually part of the septic system because it helps with the filtration of semi-treated effluent.

This is necessary to ensure that such water is safe before it rejoins groundwater.

The Lifespan of a Septic System

It may take a little above a decade to around five decades (roughly 15 to 50 years) before a septic system is considered for replacement.

What makes such variance wide? How long a septic system lasts depends on several factors.

For example, the type of septic tank installed will determine your system’s lifespan.

Other likely factors include your soil’s percolation rate, damage from vehicular activity, damage caused by nature, the workload of the system, and how well it’s maintained.

  • Type of Septic Tank

The type of septic tank installed counts a lot to the duration of the system.

Basically, we’re talking about the materials such a tank is made of. Speaking of tank materials, they include fiberglass septic tanks, plastic septic tanks, concrete, and steel tanks.

Of these four types, concrete septic tanks tend to have a longer lifespan as they can last as long as 50 years or more. Fiberglass septic tanks also have a long lifespan as they could last 40 to 50 years.

Steel tanks tend to have the least longevity as they last anywhere from 15 to 20 years after which they’ll need to be replaced. With plastic septic tanks, you’ll get a lifespan ranging from 30 to 40 years.

  • Soil Percolation Rate

Before a septic system is installed, a perc (percolation) test is performed. It’s aimed at determining the water absorption rate of the soil.

With time, a soil’s percolation rate may decline.

When this happens, it affects the performance of the septic system.

  • Damage from Vehicular Activity

Vehicular activity around a septic system is likely to lower its performance and lifespan.

For instance, a septic system that’s designed to last 40 years or more may only last a period of 20 years. Vehicular activity causes soil compaction.

Also, cars and other heavy machinery parked above the septic tank are likely to collapse or crush the tank. When that happens, such a tank needs to be changed.

All heavy machinery should be kept away from the drain field to avoid compaction.

  • Damage Caused by Nature

While human activity could lower septic system lifespan, the same can also be caused by nature.

Interference of roots could cause damage to septic drain pipes. When that happens, it becomes necessary to replace them as untreated wastewater is likely to contaminate nearby water bodies.

Flooding caused by heavy rainfall could cause saturation of the leach field area. This leads to backups that could further affect other components of the system.

Also, freezing weather conditions could cause damage to pipes

  • The Workload on the Septic System

What’s the workload like for your septic system?

Some systems see heavy usage which may be due to the high population within a household. Such heavy usage will eventually take its toll on your septic system.

It might serve for a few decades before needing replacement.

  • How Well it’s Maintained

You may need to have your septic system replaced when it isn’t properly maintained. By improper maintenance, we’re talking about flushing unwanted items down your drain. What are these unwanted items?

There are several. They include condoms, tampons, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, paper towels, grease, plastic items, and a whole lot of others.

These reduce the lifespan of your septic system which will require more frequent replacement than necessary.

Proper Maintenance Extends the Lifespan of a Septic System

With proper maintenance, it will take longer before you need to replace your septic system.

Of course, such maintenance will include replacement worn out or broken components such as drainage pipes and broken septic tank lids, etc.

The information contained in this article will go a long way in helping you better maintain your septic system.

Also, consider the durability of septic system components as this contributes to the lifespan of the system.

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