Cracked Septic Tank
LESLIE: Suzanne in Florida has a septic tank with a crack in it. This doesn’t sound good. Tell us about the problem.SUZANNE: Yes, I’ve had a problem here. I’ve owned this home. It’s built in 1984. I believe that the septic tank was never pumped out before I owned it. Had it pumped out. Everything was good to go but – and I could see to the bottom of it with the service contractor that I had here and he pumped everything out but there was a crack in the side and it looked just like a hose of groundwater leaking in. It looked clear; everything looked good and he said, “Oh, my goodness. You’re going to need a whole new septic tank and drain field.”
TOM: Well, why do you need a new drain field if your septic tank is cracked? I don’t understand that.
SUZANNE: Well, I don’t know but – well, apparently – I don’t know; if that’s just what they want to sell me. But …
TOM: Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.
LESLIE: So the drain field, Tom, never becomes compromised if there had been a leak in the septic tank.
TOM: No, there are two – we’re talking about two different geographic areas here.
SUZANNE: Oh, we are?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: The septic tank is the tank itself and it’s usually a precast concrete tank. The drain field is a series of pipes that goes underground and it’s perforated and it distributes the effluent that comes up and over the tank; so we’re talking about two separate things here. So if that contractor said you need to replace both, without a reason for replacing the drain field, I would lean towards thinking he’s trying just to sell you something that perhaps you don’t need.
You know what would be a good thing to do here, Suzanne …
SUZANNE: Please tell me.
TOM: … would be to get an independent evaluation. I would call a local professional home inspector. Find one that’s certified by ASHI – the American Society of Home Inspectors. Talk with them on the phone. Make sure that they are experts in septic tank evaluation and have them take a look at it and get them to prescribe a repair here, because I doubt you’re going to have to do a total replacement here. Concrete that is cracked and damaged can be repaired in a number of ways quite successfully; none of which would involve completely removing and replacing this.
SUZANNE: Thank you ever so much and good luck to you and thank you.LESLIE: Thanks, Suzanne.TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.