Should you drive over a septic tank?
Certain questions seem unnecessary when the answer seems too obvious. An answer being too obvious may be due to a long-held knowledge about the subject matter.
In other words, you’d expect everyone to know the answer. However, their reality isn’t always so.
In the case of a septic tank, not everyone makes use of it. This is even more evident for persons living in cities where different sewer systems are mostly used.
Here, homes are connected to a centralized sewer line which conveys sewage to a central treatment facility.
The point of all this explanation is simple! To make a case for persons who have never used septic systems before. For such individuals, asking questions such as the one we started with wouldn’t seem out of place.
How Heavy Is A Car?
The average car weighs about 2500-4,000 pounds. This translates to about 2 tons.
This wouldn’t be surprising because quite a lot of metal or steel goes into its construction. This includes the engine and body. It was necessary to first discuss the weight of a car to enable you to appreciate its weight and make a mental comparison.
The weight of a car can be equated to each of these; a John Deere Open Station Sub-compact tractor, 2 mature male bison, a white rhino, 20 baby elephants, and about $1,816,000 in US dollar bills. Amazing! Isn’t it?
Now, make a mental association of any of these being dropped on, or driven over a septic tank…will it hold? This should begin to give you an idea of how driving over a septic tank will impact its structural integrity.
Septic Tanks & Weight Considerations
Septic tanks aren’t all made of the same material.
Some are made of pure concrete, others of concrete blocks while some other tanks are made of fiberglass. There are also those made of high-density plastic as fiber-reinforced plastic.
Although all of these are made to withstand a certain threshold of weight, not all have the same tolerance or durability levels when extra weight is applied.
We’re talking about 2 tons or 4,000 pounds of weight which represents that of a car!
Logically, it’s expected that the toughest septic tanks would be those made of pure concrete. These should have more tolerance for extra weight.
This analogy seeks to determine whether this type of tank will hold when a car is driven over.
How Much Weight can Drive Over A Septic Tank?
All our discussion to this point has been aimed at helping you appreciate the weight of a car. This has also led us to the simple answer; never drive over, or park on a septic tank no matter how durable the tank is.
It’s unlikely that a septic tank will give way the first time it is driven over. However, this constant action leads to steady and gradual caving of the tank. Plus, septic tanks aren’t designed to hold much weight.
Remember, septic tanks are buried below the ground surface. Already, there’s a layer of earth covering the top of the tank. This layer would be several inches thick which exerts pressure.
Therefore, the extra weight of a vehicle can cause significant damage to your tank.
A septic tank won’t attain the lifespan it was initially intended. In other words, it won’t last as long as it was intended to last. So, what happens if you drive over a tank?
Let’s consider certain things.
What Happens If You Drive Over a Septic Tank?
Many scenarios are likely to unfold if you insist on driving over a septic tank.
The sad truth is; all of them aren’t pretty. Even new septic tanks would give way when 2 tons of weight passes over. Plus, even if new tanks could hold the weight of a car, not all septic tanks are new.
Some could be out of use and need to be removed. Such fragile tanks will give way in an instant when extra weight is applied. Safety is everything. Serious injury and possible death may result from a collapsed septic tank.
There’s also the possibility of exposure to harmful gases and bacteria.
Your vehicle is likely to get damaged in the process. It’s assumed that you love your car and won’t want to create problems for yourself. A car will need to be fixed when it gets damaged. This costs money.
You may also want to ask yourself if you’re ready to carry out expensive repair work on your septic tank. The answer is obvious. A damaged septic tank means additional repair expenses.
Having to incur such avoidable expenses is reason enough to keep heavy machinery from your septic tank.
Septic Tanks Aren’t Built For Cars to Park Over
Septic tanks are built for one sole purpose; the treatment of waste.
Anything outside of that doesn’t make any sense. You also expose yourself and your family to significant risk. If your septic tank is situated in an unavoidable position that you have to drive over, it may be time to make some alterations.
Alterations, in this case, refer to the relocation of such a septic tank. This is only necessary when your vehicle cannot be repositioned. Another possibility to explore is the building of a bridge over the septic tank.
Although this will be quite challenging, it helps prevent the weight of the vehicle from resting directly on the tank.
Protect Your Drain Field Too!
Apart from your septic tank, another septic system component you should be concerned about is the drain field. This is where percolation takes place. Wastewater or effluent is further treated here through absorption and filtration.
Driving over the drain field will compact the soil which is supposed to be loose enough for percolation. A compacted drain field won’t be of any use as effluent is hardly treated.
Keeping your vehicle away from the drain field saves you the stress of having to reinstall or rework an existing septic system component.
We’ve seen that it’s a completely bad idea to drive over your septic tank. Septic system is a delicate installation that needs to be kept in perfect working condition.
The adoption of preventive measures helps elongate the lifespan of your septic system.