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Septic Tanks – Danger Signs In A Rural Home
Most rural homes are not connected to a mains sewage system. These homes rely on a self-contained sewage treatment plant called a septic tank.
If you have a septic tank, or are considering the purchase of a home with one, there are life-saving facts you need to know about septic tanks.
A septic tank takes the sewage from the house, the solids settle out and grease floats to the top. Between the two layers is a clear watery layer that is piped away to an absorption area where it is allowed to percolate away, through the soil. Soil bacteria break down any nutrients before the sewage reaches the water bearing rocks, or any streams.
Septic tanks are usually buried in the ground. There are three main types, all of which cause different concerns.
Steel tanks rust, especially when buried in the ground. A steel septic tank can be so corroded that it can lead to someone walking over it falling through and into the tank. The hapless person is suffocated by the methane generated in the tank, or drowns.
Concrete tanks may be damaged internally, leading to permanent and expensive to rectify damage to the absorption drain-field.
The worst tanks are those built from concrete blocks on site. Sometimes the blocks are just laid and not cemented together. Even if they are cemented together years of attack from acidic sewage will dissolve the mortar. These tanks can collapse without warning and probably fail to meet local planning and environmental protection regulations.
How do you tell if your septic tank has problems?
If there are ANY areas of sunken ground around it STAY AWAY. Call in a contractor immediately. If you step on these areas you could fall through, into the septic tank and die. These are signs that your septic tank has partially collapsed.
Check for signs of solid sewage material in the drain-field area. If the drain-field has been contaminated because the septic tank has not been pumped out regularly, this can be very expensive to rectify.
If you are buying a home with a septic tank, you should insist on the tank being pumped out and an investigation by a septic tank contractor carried out. It is not possible to examine a septic tank properly while it is full.
You may have to pay for a contractor to give you a report, but this will be a tiny amount compared to the cost of any necessary remedial work