Like most components of your home, the septic system has a finite life. The lifespan depends on many factors, but homeowners (and business owners) should always consider that they may eventually need to replace the system.
How Long Does a Septic System Last?
There are many factors that will affect the longevity of your septic system, but on average, a septic system should last between 15 and 40 years. However, if you take good care of your septic system and have it regularly inspected and pumped, it could last even longer.
How long your septic system lasts depends on the materials used in its construction, the acidity of the soil, the local water table, and, importantly, how well the system has been maintained.
Septic Tank Material
One of the main factors in how long your system will last is the material that the tank is made of.
Steel septic tanks can be expected to last 15-20 years on average. This is the shortest of any of the commonly used materials, a result of the propensity for steel to rust over time. To prolong the life of a steel septic tank, regular maintenance and inspections are very important.
On the other end of the longevity spectrum, concrete septic tanks have the longest expected lifespan – 40+ years. The most common issue with concrete tanks is cracks that are caused by the ground shifting or settlement. While some shifting cannot be prevented, this is why it is important to never park or drive on a septic tank.
The drain field (or leach field) is the final stop in the wastewater processing process of your septic system. Typically made of a series of perforated pipes located a distance away from the septic tank, the drainfield is another important consideration in how long your system will last.
As with the septic tank, the material that your drainfield pipes are made of will help determine how long they will last. The most common materials are PVC, steel, and cast iron, all of which can last up to a half century if they were installed and maintained properly.
It is important to have your drainfield inspected periodically to ensure that the pipes are in good working order.
When your septic system was installed, a percolation (perc) test was likely done to determine how efficient the soil was in filtering wastewater. Different types of soil can have an impact on the life expectancy of your septic system.
For example, heavy clay soil can lead to more frequent clogs, which in turn can reduce the expected lifespan of your system. Acidic soil can cause faster corrosion of the pipes in your septic system and of the tank. As a result, most septic contractors prefer non-acidic soil.
The water table is the top layer of water that is found beneath the surface of the soil. To effectively process the wastewater that gets processed by your septic system, the water table has to be low enough to allow the effluent to be absorbed into the surrounding soil. A water table that is too high will impact the effectiveness of the system and shorten its expected lifespan.
Like all of the other components of your home, your septic system is affected by routine wear and tear. The more use the system gets, the shorter its life expectancy will be.
It is also important to note that when your septic system was designed, the size of your home and an expected number of residents were taken into consideration. Increasing the number of residents or taking other actions that significantly increase septic usage can cause strain on the system, shortening its life.
The Importance of Routine Maintenance and Inspections
The best way to ensure that your septic system lasts as long as possible is to have it regularly maintained and inspected. At a minimum, you should have your septic system pumped every 3-5 years. Depending on the size of your home and family, you may need to have it pumped more frequently.
In addition, you should have your septic system inspected by a professional septic company at least once every 3 years. These inspections can help identify any potential problems early on, before they have a chance to cause major damage.
Following proper septic guidelines can also help extend your septic system’s life. This includes:
- Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. This includes things like cigarette butts, sanitary napkins, condoms, and paper towels.
- Do not flush medications (prescription or over the counter) down the toilet as they can harm the necessary bacteria in your septic tank or contaminate the groundwater.
- Do not pour grease, oil, or chemicals down the drain. These can clog up your septic system.
- Do not drive or park on top of your septic system. This can damage the tank and the pipes.
If you take good care of your septic system and have it regularly inspected and pumped, it could last even longer than the average 15-40 years. By being proactive and paying attention to signs of trouble, you can help ensure that it lasts for many years to come.
Septic Service In & Near Lakeland
When you need a septic company in & near Lakeland, contact Septic & Drainfield Depot. We are a complete array of septic services, including septic pumping, septic maintenance, septic installation, drainfields, and lift stations.
Our team of experienced septic technicians is committed to addressing your issues and finding the best solution on the first try. We are a licensed septic contractor in the state of Florida, fully insured and committed to our clients’ satisfaction.
We are available 24/7 to handle any residential or commercial septic emergencies, and we offer septic financing to help you cover the costs of septic repairs or installation.
Contact us today for a free estimate!