Septic Tank Collapse: Causes, Prevention & Safety

Septic tank collapse is simply part of a septic system failure that could happen due to several reasons. Here, we’re interested in discussing why septic systems collapse and how to prevent this.

The focus will be more on the solutions, but before then, what is septic system collapse?

What Is A Septic Tank Collapse?

Just as the name indicates, the collapse of a septic tank happens when its wall(s) or cover caves in.

Now, such conditions are attributed to a variety of factors. When your septic tank collapses, it raises a significant risk to your household especially kids who may want to take a peek.

  • How Significant Is the Problem?

Very significant!

As a matter of fact, septic tank collapse is one of the most serious or significant septic tank problems anyone would face. Remember, these tanks hold waste content that is being treated by digestive microorganisms.

During the breakdown process of organic matter, harmful sewage gases such as methane are released. Inhaling such gasses in large amounts can be very risky and should be avoided.

There’s also the possibility of people falling into the tank when they unknowingly walk over the collapsed area.

You’ll need to avoid all such scenarios as much as possible. The only way to do this is by taking necessary precautionary measures.

Before we delve into such precautionary measures, it’s necessary to look into the causes of septic tank collapse.

Causes Of A Septic Tank Collapse

What could lead to a septic tank collapse?

There are several possible reasons as to why you have a collapsed septic tank. First, a septic tank that has been misused eventually turns acidic. When this happens, it results in gradual corrosion of the mortar between bricks (for septic tanks made of bricks).

This also applies to metal septic tanks. With such corrosion comes eventual collapse.

How suitable is the tank material? This is an important question to ask because the ground conditions need to be durable enough to prevent collapse.

However, collapse is inevitable when ground conditions aren’t durable.

Has your septic tank been left empty for long? This could be a reason for its collapse. When a septic tank isn’t used for long, a situation known as high-hydrostatic pressure from the surrounding ground leads to the tank’s collapse.

Another possible cause for septic tank collapse is when the tank floor becomes suddenly wet after a long period of dryness. To better understand this, it’s necessary to picture the fact that septic tanks are built on clay or soil.

Although these tanks won’t work in clay ground conditions, changes occur when the soil suddenly becomes wet.

Another possible reason why your septic tank caves-in is the driving of vehicles or other heavy machinery over the ground surface. When this happens, it exerts greater pressure that adds to the already heavy dirt covering the tank.

This leads to a cave-in or collapse of your septic tank.

Is Septic Tank Collapse Preventable?

Luckily it is! Septic tank collapse often results due to the above-mentioned factors.

Septic tanks do not last forever. In other words, they have an expected lifespan. Such tanks will need to be replaced after clocking the time period they were designed to attain.

However, not all septic tanks will reach or attain the number of years they were designed for. Misused tanks will hardly attain the number of years they were designed to serve.

To cut to the chase, septic tank collapse can be prevented by not driving vehicles or other heavy machinery over them.

Determine the age of your tank and have it replaced when it’s due for replacement. An aging septic tank is a disaster waiting to happen. A cave-in would be imminent unless replaced with a new one.

When septic tanks age, cracks begin to form. This worsens with time and eventually gives way.

If you’ve been away for long, you might want to have your septic tank inspected when you return. Septic tank professionals assess the condition of the tank to determine if fixes are necessary.

In the absence of any issues, the green light is given to continue usage.

Before moving into a new property or home, one of the first things you’ll need to check is the condition of the septic tank. A lot of times, new homeowners make the mistake of ignoring this area until they end up with a collapsed septic tank.

For old tanks, they’ll need replacement. As such, the cost of such property should reflect the condition of the septic tank.

Septic system contractors are your best bet for avoiding septic system collapse. If you have a cave-in, you’ll need to give them a call for further assessment.

The condition of the tank is examined and the underlying issues laid bare.

Other Ways Of Preventing A Septic Tank Collapse

If you’ve stopped using a septic tank and it’s disconnected, consider proper filling of the empty tank using clean fill.

This prevents it from sudden collapse, thus making your environment safe. For tanks left unused for long periods of time, consider calling for inspection to determine the impact of high hydrostatic pressure on the tank.

Periodic inspections are in order. Upholding this ritual is key to preventing issues with your septic tank. Most times, problems are prevented before they happen.

When this approach is adopted, your septic tank stays in perfect working condition with minimal risks for collapse.

Septic Tank Misuse

We’ve severally made mention of septic tank misuse.

So, what’s this about? Septic tank misuse simply refers to a situation where your tank isn’t used the right way.

There are lots of ways in which tanks are misused. One of them includes emptying strong chemicals such as motor oil, solvents, pesticides, and paints into the drain.

Safety Considerations

Members of your household including your pets need to be safe. You don’t want them walking over compromised or faulty grounds.

Therefore, paying close attention to the surface area around the tank is highly crucial and should be done as frequently as possible.

Septic tank collapse is a real problem and caused by the factors discussed above. We’ve not only focused on the causes but have also discussed the solutions.

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