Septic Tanks: Concrete vs. Plastic

Septic tanks are relatively small, self-contained water treatment systems designed to pre-treat wastewater from homes by removing solids. They can be constructed from concrete or plastic, and each type has benefits and potential drawbacks. As a homeowner, it is helpful to be aware of the pros and cons of each type so that you can make an informed decision when the time comes to install a new one.

Plastic Septic Tanks: The Good

Plastic septic tanks are lightweight and sturdy against the elements, and these two properties give them some advantages over their concrete counterparts. Thanks to the reduced weight, plastic tanks are both cheaper and easier to transport and install. If you live in a remote area, transportation of the unit is something you may need to consider. Affordability isn’t the only benefit to choosing a plastic septic tank. Plastic tanks can also last a long time after a proper installation. In addition, plastic tanks are less susceptible to corrosion.

Plastic Septic Tanks: The Not-So-Good

Plastic septic tanks are susceptible to direct damage and problems during installation. Damage to the tank itself or improper installation can lead to serious problems later such as:

  • Seeping of dangerous wastewater into the surrounding soil and groundwater.
  • Floating of the septic tank to the surface, which can in turn cause serious damage to the surrounding pipes and structures.

There are a couple of other things worth noting about plastic septic tanks. Not all localities allow their use. Before you invest in your purchase, it would be wise to check local laws and city ordinances. In addition, it is risky to put any significant weight over the site of a plastic septic tank because the tank could be crushed and/or soil shifting may occur.

Concrete Septic Tanks: The Good

The first thing to consider when it comes to concrete is that your locality may require you to own a concrete septic tank. If it does not, there are still many potential benefits to choosing concrete. Concrete is a highly durable, heavyweight material. Because of this, it will not float or shift once it is settled in place. Major outdoor projects pose little risk against the toughness of a concrete septic tank. Concrete tanks are also made of natural materials, which makes them a much more environmentally sound option.

Concrete Septic Tanks: The Not-So-Good

The strengths of concrete septic tanks bring with them some added complications. Installation is more costly and more complex. The same holds true for repairs. Although concrete tanks are durable and long lasting, they are more prone to cracking than plastic tanks. A crack in your septic tank can lead to dangerous seepage of waste into the soil and groundwater, so inspection and maintenance is important.

The Health of Your Septic Tank

Regardless of which type of septic tank you choose for your home, the importance of a level sensor for liquids cannot be overstated. Level sensors or “float switches” are designed to alert you when something goes wrong in your septic tank by triggering an alarm when liquid levels in the tank become too high. They can prevent disastrous flooding and damage to your property and are essential for all septic tank types.

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