What kind of conventional septic tank should I get?

AdobeStock_33645881Waste treatment tank or septic tankdomestic wastewater treatment

Obviously, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing the kind of conventional septic tank to install. Sometimes the kind of tank you choose is dictated by your budget, the location of the house, the location where the tank must go, the size of your home, the number of occupants, and the type of drainfield that your property can accommodate.

In addition, all of these components and elements are further controlled and decided by the codes or laws of a state, the contractors available, the surrounding environment, the weather – in short, there are a great number of details that will impact your choice of tank. It some instances, it’s not always a matter of choice; you may want a certain kind of tank, but you may not be able to get it because it doesn’t meet certain criteria.

There are four basic categories of septic tank design and material: concrete, steel, fiberglass or plastic, and aerobic. There are pros and cons to each:

Concrete septic tanks, pros:

⦁    Extremely durable and strong
⦁    Typically lasts for decades if maintained properly
⦁    Won’t float or shift in the ground because of the weight
⦁    Approved for use in virtually every state
⦁    Can be installed in more places because it resists damage from cars, heavy machinery, etc.
⦁    Does not have to be buried so deeply because of its strength
⦁    Can contain extremely large volumes of waste; so can accommodate larger homes/buildings

Concrete septic tanks, cons:

⦁    Concrete can crack over time
⦁    Cracking means more risk of pollution, effluent seepage
⦁    Steel reinforcements inside tanks can deteriorate and rust
⦁    More expensive to buy, install
⦁    Installation can be complicated; must have heavy duty machinery to lift it into place
⦁    Weight makes it impossible to lift and put in certain locations

Steel septic tanks, pros:

⦁    Least expensive septic tank option
⦁    Lighter than concrete, so easier to install
⦁    Won’t float up out of the ground as easily as fiberglass or plastic steel septic tanks, cons:
⦁    Least durable septic tank choice; most prone to need for repair, failure
⦁    Will last no more than 20 to 25 years
⦁    Issues with rusting make it more problematic in wet climates
⦁    Prone to collapsing, creating sink holes

Fiberglass or plastic septic tanks, pros:

⦁    Corrosion proof, won’t rust like steel tanks, not affected by ordinary chemicals
⦁    Durable; lasts longer than steel tanks, sometimes as long as concrete tanks
⦁    Inexpensive option
⦁    Light weight so much easier and cheaper to install; don’t need heavy equipment
⦁    More water tight than any other septic tank option
⦁    Lids and connections fit tightly so odor is less problematic
⦁    Don’t crack as easily as concrete tanks
⦁    Less vulnerable to roots and temperature

Fiberglass or plastic septic tanks, cons:

⦁    Some states don’t allow fiberglass or plastic septic tanks
⦁    Lighter, so they are easier to damage when being installed
⦁    If not installed correctly, they can “float” out of place in very wet weather, causing pipes and connections to break

Aerobic systems, pros:

⦁    An aerobic septic system takes up very little space
⦁    Can be installed in many places that can’t take concrete, steel, or fiberglass tanks
⦁    Have a number of different designs
⦁    Environmentally beneficial
⦁    Recycles effluent very quickly
⦁    Effluent is purer, can be used to water crops, etc.
⦁    Can be used to replace a conventional septic system that has failed

Aerobic systems, cons:

⦁    Cost of aerobic systems is two to three times more than a conventional septic system
⦁    Aerobic systems require considerably more maintenance than conventional systems, some need to be checked and serviced every three to four months
⦁    If system is not maintained properly, effectiveness declines rapidly
⦁    They are more prone to fail simply because of the higher cost of maintaining them
⦁    Some designs have specific temperature requirements
⦁    Some states or locales do not allow aerobic systems because of certain limitations

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