Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things I Never Would of Thought: Septic Tank Lids

Out of sight, out of mind.  We bought this house when it was about two years old, nearly twenty-five years ago.  For the most part, the septic system works, so I don't pay any attention to it.  But in December, there was an occasional whiff in the air.  Indoors.  So being promptly on the spot, a month later I called in the specialist, thinking it might need to be pumped, like we had done many years before.

He walked around, poking a metal probe into the ground, locating the dimensions of the tank that had long been completely buried.  His face showed increasing unease as he puzzled it out.  In one place, the probe had gone through deeper than it should have.  He pulled out the shovel and exposed the two access ports on the top.  One side was 'rotting' away.  The concrete was easily a third thinner on the outflow side of the tank than the intake side.  The concrete crumbled in his hand.

What had been a simple pumping job now became ten times more expensive.  First off, I was warned most strenuously not to drive my tractor over the area.  He had seen these situations before and even riding mowers were too heavy in many cases, and you do not want to have to fish your tractor out of the septic tank.

It was clear to me that the lid had to be replaced, although he was struggling to come up with cheaper solutions.  Unfortunately all of those just were just delays, not fixes.  As he dug more and exposed the surface of the lid, it was clear that the formerly flat slab was bowing down in the middle.  The concrete's strength was fading away and it was only held in shape by the internal rebar steel rods.

Decades old septic tank lids aren't an off the shelf item.  He took dimensions and some company somewhere poured and cast a new one.  Wait two weeks.  Don't walk on the septic tank.

Then came the day.  It had to be Monday because rain was in the forecast Tuesday and the heavy trucks couldn't get across the yard without bogging down if the ground was wet.  Carefully tensioning the chains, the crane operator lifted the old lid off and transferred it to the trailer.  Everybody was holding their breath, hoping it wouldn't crumble and fall into the tank.  Nobody wanted that clean-up job.  Up in the air, the distorted, sagging of the concrete was plain to see.

Then, they put a gasket down around the edge and lowered the new, flat, and thicker septic tank lid in place.  Now, a couple of days later, there's just a slight mound that needs reseeding and some ruts in the grass where the trucks passed.  But its fixed, at least for a few more decades.

I asked why the concrete decayed like that.  The guy with the experience wasn't sure.  Perhaps water softening.  Perhaps the chemicals given off in the air gap.  All he knew was that the corrosion always happened on the outflow side of the tank. I'm just happy to forget about it.  Out of sight, out of mind.

10 comments:

Septic tank lid said...

Septic tank gases include Hydrogen Sulfide which converts to Supfuric Acid on contact with a moist surface - your septic tank lid. The Sulfuric acid eats into the concrete and metal and destroys it. Hundreds of people fall into septic tanks every year when the lids collapse. Never stand on one.

Septic tank dangers said...

Fourteen Pakistani women were killed and nine others injured when the floor they sat on collapsed into a septic tank at a funeral in a remote village in the northwestern Buner district. The women were mourning a man killed in a road accident at Bazargai village in Buner, some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Peshawar, the main city in northwestern Pakistan. The concrete roof of a septic tank collapsed. This happened only a year ago.

Septic tank gases said...

Co-owner of popular Esther’s restaurant in north Miami-Dade died trying to fix a septic tank.

Tomas Gil, co-owner of Esther’s and a one-time minor league baseball player, decided to try to fix the septic tank alone and was killed by its fumes.

The gases are deadly too.

Henry Melton said...

Thanks for the information. The hydrogen sulfide make a lot of sense.

Septic Tank Designs said...

Septic tank clogging with scum and sludge solid has always been a main problem. Overall, maintenance can be minimal depends on how it is designed and constructed. Consultant in wastewater treatment technology specialized in tank construction will be able to help out on this.

Septic tank emptying said...

should always look after your septic tank.

bob smith said...

Never try to play with septic tank and in many cities it is a crime if you pumped your septic tank without any licensed.


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dev smith said...

septic tank cover should be replace at time to time. on this subject your post is good.
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Anonymous said...

How thick did they make the new lid?

William James said...

in present time septic tank is also main problem and your discussion about this topic is to good.
Septic Tank Cleaning Toowoomba