How to Care for Your Septic Tank Risers

Septic Tank Riser in Grass

When it comes to learning how to care for your septic system, there is no shortage of resources that offer a wealth of advice on the general care of your system. However, information on properly caring for your septic tank risers is noticeably missing. While they don’t get a lot of attention, they are a pretty important component of your septic system. In this article, we’ll discuss how to properly care for your septic tank risers, including how to know when it’s time to repair or upgrade them.

What are Septic Tank Risers?

Man servicing a septic tank with tank riser

Simple in design, septic tank risers are concrete, plastic, or fiberglass pipes that extend vertically from the septic tank up to ground level. They are typically 12-24 inches in diameter and 2-4 feet in length, depending on how far below ground your tank is buried. Risers create an entry point at ground level that allow your service provider to access the buried septic tank during service visits or inspections.

In Ohio, septic tank risers have been required for all systems for the past twenty or so years. While some systems older than that may not have been updated to current standards, we always recommend—and most local health departments require—that risers be installed to bring the system up to date.

Proper Installation of Septic Tank Risers

Modern septic tank risers are made of concrete, plastic, or fiberglass and are much stronger than older versions made of clay tile, which often crack when bumped by a lawnmower. Today’s risers offer a stronger seal than their old clay counterparts because they have rubber gaskets between sections and are screwed together. In fact, septic tank risers should be watertight to keep groundwater from finding its way into your tank. The riser lid should either be fastened with screws or weigh more than 60 pounds to ensure a watertight seal.

Landscaping Around Septic Tank Risers

Around the web, you’ll find a lot of sources offering advice on hiding septic tank risers by burying them under mulch or just under the surface of the soil. However, septic tank risers should never be buried. Instead, they should be 2 inches above final grade to prevent groundwater from entering the system. Avoid using mulch around septic tank risers. Mulch can fall inside the tank during inspections and service visits, creating nasty clogs and potentially causing significant damage. Decorative gravel or pebbles can be used instead to create a vegetation-free zone around the risers.

Be mindful of the vegetation you plant around your septic tank risers as well. Avoid planting trees, bushes, shrubs, and tall decorative grasses nearby as their roots may grow into the riser and cause significant damage. Tall decorative grasses have especially troublesome roots.

Common Issues with Septic Tank Risers

Like every other component of your septic system, your tank risers need to be periodically inspected to ensure they are functioning properly and are not in need of repair. The most common issue we encounter with septic risers has to do with damage sustained from the lawnmower when homeowners bump into or drive over the riser. Be sure anyone tending to your lawn knows where the risers are and the importance of avoiding hitting them with any maintenance gear, including lawnmowers, weed eaters, and the like.

Septic tank risers are also notorious for leaking. Northeast Ohio’s variable temperatures, especially our frost season, can shift them and break the watertight seal. An easy way to see whether a riser is leaking is to open the lid and run a garden hose around the riser for ten minutes while checking for infiltration. If water is getting in, the risers will need to be repaired to prevent groundwater from getting into your system.

Supeck Septic is Your Trusted Septic Service Provider

Supeck Septic is Northeast Ohio’s largest septic service provider and has been offering exceptional customer service since 1968. We are licensed, bonded, and insured to provide routine and emergency septic services, including installing and repairing septic tank risers. We retrofit old tanks with updated risers, repair existing risers, and sell all necessary parts for the DIYer. Contact us today to learn more.

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