If you own a home with a concrete septic tank, you might think of your tank as one solid concrete box. In reality, residential septic tanks typically consist of a few different components, including a separate lid. Inside your tank, you'll usually find a wall dividing two chambers and limiting solid waste flow, as well as an inlet and outlet baffle.
Surprisingly, these baffles are common failure points, especially on older concrete septic tanks. Understanding what your baffles do and why you shouldn't ignore failures is important to maintaining your system and avoiding messy and costly problems.
Why Does Your Septic Tank Need Baffles?
Your septic system's primary role is delivering liquid waste (effluent) to your drainfield. The drainfield's design allows this liquid waste to filter into the surrounding soil slowly, removing hazardous contaminants and returning clean water to the environment. Your septic tank manages the waste flow and prevents harmful solid wastes or grease from reaching the drainfield.
This role is particularly important because solid waste and grease can clog your drainfield, resulting in an expensive clean-out or even permanent damage to the field. In a worst-case scenario, this damage can cause your septic system to back up and allow sewage to enter your home. The interior design of your septic tank helps to prevent these costly problems.
Your baffles are simple elements critical in keeping solids from leaving your tank. Concrete baffles are small walls extending below the tank's expected liquid level. These walls prevent solid waste or grease from flowing into the outlet, helping to ensure only liquid effluent can reach your drainfield.
Why Do Baffles Fail and What Can You Do?
While concrete is incredibly durable, the environment inside your septic tank can lead to concrete corrosion. Older septic tanks typically use concrete for the entire interior, including the baffle walls. Over many years of use, the concrete on these walls can weaken and crumble, leaving your tank's outlet without important protection.
If your baffles fail, the likelihood of grease or solid waste entering your drainfield will increase. Even if you keep up with a regular pumping schedule, small amounts of this waste may leave through the outlet. Over time, this waste can damage the bacterial colonies in your drainfield and reduce the overall life of your septic system.
Fortunately, an experienced septic tank company can typically repair failed baffles by installing sanitary tee pipes that "dip" into the tank, preventing anything floating on the surface from entering the drainfield. If you discover deteriorating baffles during a routine septic inspection, this repair may be critical to help protect your septic system and extend its usable lifespan.
For more information on residential septic tank repairs, contact a professional near you.