LARGER IMAGE: of a home made or site-built septic tank being excavated after failure. Septic Tank Condition - How to Inspect Home Made or Site Built Septic Tanks

  • SEPTIC TANKS HOME MADE SITE BUILT - CONTENTS: Characteristics of home made or site-built septic tanks. Types of Septic Tanks: steel septic tanks, concrete septic tanks, fiberglass septic tanks, home made septic tanks - definitions and characteristics of various types of septic tanks
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about site built & home made septic tanks: special problems, inspection, installation, troubleshooting, repairs, age, durability
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This document describes how to inspect the condition of a septic tank, providing special considerations for inspecting home made or site built septic tanks. Inspecting home made septic tanks is a key component in onsite wastewater disposal systems and can involve special risks of collapse or early failure since often home made septic tanks are constructed too small, or are built using marginal materials or have unsafe tank covers.

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HOME MADE, SITE BUILT SEPTIC TANKS - Home made or "site built tanks

PHOTO of a completely impacted, failed, home-made septic tank.

The photo at page top shows a home made septic tank which was being excavated after discovery of sewage effluent in the drainfield.

This article series answers just about any question about septic system design, installation, inspection & maintenance or repair procedures: defects in onsite waste disposal systems, septic tank problems, septic drainfield problems, checklists of system components & things to ask.

Site built systems, in my experience, are often under-sized and worse, dangerous. There is a serious risk of collapse of old rotting wood covers, collapsing concrete block dry-laid tank or "cesspool" walls, etc.

The septic tank shown in this photograph was "home made" using concrete blocks stacked to form the tank sides (and maybe bottom) and covered with a poured-concrete lid which has been tipped over and can be seen on-edge in the left side of this photograph.

The home made septic tank was so small that it would need to be pumped more frequently than normal to protect the drainfield.

In this particular case the home made septic tank was found to be completely filled with solids, and the leach field was found to be filled with solid waste as well. An improperly-conducted septic dye test failed to detect this condition even though even a small and inadequate test, had dye and water been run into the main waste line, would certainly have caused a backup - which is what happened within hours of the new buyers moving into the home to which this septic non-system was attached.

While building your own septic tank is not an impossible task, proper sizing of the tank, and construction of materials to be sure that the tank and its cover are safe from collapse, are critical considerations.

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