How Long Does a Septic System Last?

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How Long Does a Septic System Last?

Septic tanks are used for domestic sewer systems in properties without direct access to municipal sewage systems. A properly built and maintained septic tank can last 15 to 20 years. This is because a correctly designed tank should tolerate 10% of the household wastewater entering the tank without any significant issues. Septic Blue of Raleigh can help with septic tank pumping and septic tank repair.

Septic Tank Composition

The composition of your septic tank will determine its lifespan. A concrete tank can last up to 50 years, while a steel tank can last up to 20 years. Concrete tanks are more expensive, but they have the advantage of being able to store more solids and liquids at one time than steel tanks.


Steel tanks are usually buried in sandy soil for stability because clay soils corrode the steel over time. Due to its weight, this type of tank is not recommended for use in high-density residential areas. Still, it’s ideal for remote or rural locations where the terrain makes digging difficult or impossible. Steel tanks can last up to 20 years. A steel tank also won’t crack if hit by heavy equipment such as tractors or graders during excavation work for new homes or buildings.


Concrete is used to make the body of the septic tank and serves as the support for the tank floor. The concrete used in constructing a septic tank should be strong enough to withstand heavy loads and compressive strength.

Drain Field

The drain field comprises perforated pipes that carry wastewater from the septic tank to an absorption area where microorganisms will break it down into harmless organic matter that plants and trees can use as nutrients. This process takes 2-5 days, depending on the volume of solids in your wastewater, type of soil, and weather conditions (temperature). The primary purpose is to get rid of excess nitrogen in your wastewater before it enters our watersheds or groundwater aquifers through infiltration or evaporation from surface areas such as lakes, rivers, and ponds where you swim or boat during the summer months.

Type of Soil

This can be either acidic or alkaline soil. A septic tank will last longer if it's buried in acidic soil than if it's buried in alkaline soil.

Non-Acidic/Neutral or Slightly Alkaline Soil

The longer you live in your home and the more waste you produce, the sooner you will need to replace your septic system. If you have a large family or constantly host parties at your home, this may cause your septic system to deteriorate more quickly than usual. You should also replace your septic system if its condition has deteriorated or if it has been damaged due to flooding or other damage.

Extremely Acidic Soil

Septic tanks are made of concrete or plastic and can be damaged by acidic soil over time; this is more likely if an underlying layer of clay is present in the area where you live.

Water Table

If there's a high water table near your home, it can cause problems with your existing septic system, and this can lead to backup in your home or even failure of your entire system due to excessive pressure from groundwater pushing against your pipes and walls.


If you live in an area with frequent rainstorms or flooding, this can shorten your septic tank's lifespan. This is because excessive amounts of water entering the system can cause problems with effluent distribution and reduce the effectiveness of your treatment process. If you frequently use water from other sources, such as tubs or showers, this could also shorten the life expectancy of your septic system.

Routine Inspections and Maintenance

A septic tank comprises several parts, all of which need to be inspected regularly so that you can have peace of mind that your system is working correctly. Here are some things you should look out for:

The lid – Make sure there are no cracks or holes in the lid, as this could lead to leakage into the ground around your home. If there are any cracks or holes, contact a professional immediately to repair or replace them.

The drain field – This is an underground pipe network where wastewater flows through before reaching the leach field. Check for any signs of clogging, such as roots or debris. You can hire a professional to inspect and clear these pipes if needed.

The leach field is where water flows out after being treated by the septic tank. It should be clear of anything that can block its flow, such as roots, rocks, or broken pipes, so that it can treat wastewater effectively.

Septic Blue of Raleigh

A septic tank installation is a substantial investment, and you want the lifespan of a septic tank to be in the double digits. Plenty of variables affect the life expectancy of a septic tank. Ideally, it would be beneficial to have a septic tank installation done professionally because it can avoid major problems and save you thousands in repairs. Septic Blue of Raleigh can help with all septic tank needs.