You and Your Septic Tank

Do you know where your septic tank is? Okay, so you can point to an area on your property and say “yeah, it’s over there” with a hint of un-sureness. The next question is probably more important then the one just
asked. Do you know where the lid to your septic tank is? Does that have you scratching your head?

Septic tanks by their very nature are buried, sometimes 3 feet or deeper underground. Out of sight out of mind so to speak. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. There will come a time when your septic system begins to exhibit problems and needs some maintenance/repairs and the tank needs to be pumped out. Having a general idea as to the location of your tank can make getting this simple task done much more difficult.

Dealing With Problems

There are two ways to deal with this problem and one way to make sure that in the future it won’t be an issue. First let’s look at finding the lid to the septic tank if you don’t know where it is. You can either dig for it yourself or have the septic pumping service do it. Doing it your self can be time consuming and not a lot of fun. Having the pumping service do it can be costly.

Generally it is done in this fashion. You or someone you hire has to dig down until they find the top of the septic tank. That is usually the easy part of the process. Once you find the top of the tank you then need to find the lid. This can involve digging concentric circles outward from your initial hole until you find the lid. Once you find the lid now is the time to fix the problem; install a riser.

The Riser

A septic tank riser is essentially a large tube that extends from the lid of the tank up to the surface of the ground. Once installed it will provide quick access to the septic tank that’s easy to find any time there is a problem or it needs to be pumped out.

There are three basic types of risers to choose from; concrete, PVC, and polyethylene.

While concrete risers are generally cheaper it isn’t the best choice. A concrete riser is heavy and may need heavy equipment to lift and install it. It is also more apt to leak then the other materials and may have rust problems if rebar is used to strengthen the cement.

Materials

PVC and polyethylene risers are lightweight and easy to install. They are resistant to corrosion and of course will not rust. They also incorporate a gasket seal to keep water from entering and prevent sewer gases from escaping from a leaky lid. The increased cost of these two types of risers is well worth it. They are virtually maintenance free and will easily last for the life of the whole septic system.

Every septic tank needs a riser and in many places they are now a code requirement. If you don’t have one it might be worth having one installed before something goes wrong with your septic system. Quick access to the tank is one of the first steps to diagnosing any problems.