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Signs of Old Septic Tank: How to Abandon It?

Updated: Jun 3

A septic tank is an essential component of a home's sewage system. It collects and treats wastewater from household activities, such as flushing toilets and running water. However, a septic tank can deteriorate over time due to age or lack of maintenance. This can lead to various problems, including sewage backups and damage to the surrounding environment.

There are various signs of an old concrete septic tank which include slow draining sink and toilets, foul odor, puddles in the yard, and many more which are indicative of septic tank replacement. 

What Does an Old Septic Tank Mean?

What Does an Old Septic Tank Mean

An old septic tank is a buried container used for treating wastewater from a home not connected to a sewer system. Over time, it can fill with solids or fail due to age or damage, causing backups or environmental hazards. 

Regular maintenance and septic tank repair are needed to prevent problems. Upgrading or replacing old tanks can improve safety and efficiency. 

Signs of Aging Septic Tank 

Signs of Aging Septic Tank

Here are some common signs of a collapsed septic tank that are indicative of an immediate septic tank inspection or septic removal: 

  • Slow-draining sinks and toilets: If you notice that your sinks, showers, and toilets are taking longer than usual to drain, it could be a sign that your septic tank is reaching its capacity. This can happen if the tank has not been pumped out regularly or if there is damage to the system.

  • Foul odors: A properly functioning septic tank should not produce any noticeable odors. However, as a tank ages and becomes less efficient at treating wastewater, it may start to emit unpleasant smells. This could indicate that the tank needs to be emptied or repaired.

  • Puddles in the yard: If you notice standing water or puddles in your yard near where the septic tank is located, it could be a sign of a leak. This can occur when the tank is overflowing or if there are cracks in the walls of the tank.

  • Sewage backup: One of the most obvious signs that your septic system needs attention is sewage backing up into your sinks, showers, and toilets. This can happen when the tank becomes too full and cannot properly treat wastewater.

What to Do with an Old Septic Tank?

What to Do with an Old Septic Tank

If you're experiencing any of these signs, it's likely time to have a professional septic tank inspection. They can determine the cause of the problem and recommend the best course of action. In some cases, a simple pumping may be enough to solve the issue. However, if there are cracks or damage to the tank itself, it may need to be replaced entirely.

It's also important to properly maintain your septic system on an ongoing basis. This includes regularly scheduled pumping and inspections every 3-5 years, depending on the usage and size of your tank.

Does An Old Septic Tank Need To Be Removed? 

Does An Old Septic Tank Need To Be Removed

No, an old septic tank does not always need to be removed. It can often be decommissioned in place by being pumped out, cleaned, and then filled with an inert material like sand or gravel. 

This process is generally considered safe and is accepted in many jurisdictions provided it complies with local regulations and environmental guidelines.

Old Septic Tank Removal Cost

If you do find yourself in a situation where your septic tank needs to be replaced, it's important to understand the costs involved. The average cost of removing an old septic tank can range from $1,500 to $4,000. This includes labor and equipment fees, as well as any permits required by your local government.

Factors that may affect the cost of septic tank removal include: 

  • Size of your tank

  • The extent of damage or deterioration

  • The location of your tank (e.g. accessibility for heavy machinery

8 Ways to Fill in an Old Septic Tank 

8 Ways to Fill in an Old Septic Tank

Once your old septic tank has been removed, you may be wondering what to do with the space. Here are a few options for filling in an old septic tank:

  • Sand or Gravel: This is a popular method of filling in an old septic tank because it's relatively inexpensive and readily available. The sand or gravel is poured into the empty tank and then compacted to create a solid base.

  • Soil: Another option is to use soil from your property to fill in the old septic tank. This can be a good choice if you have extra soil on hand and want to save money on purchasing other materials.

  • Concrete Slabs: If you want a more permanent solution, you can have concrete slabs poured into the empty septic tank. This will create a solid, durable base that can be built upon.

  • Planting: You could also turn your old septic tank space into a small garden or flower bed. This is a more eco-friendly option and can add some beauty to your property.

  • Root Cellar: Transform the tank into a root cellar for storing vegetables, fruits, and other perishables. Ensure proper ventilation and access are established.

  • Fire Pit: The top of the tank can be removed and the interior cleaned to create an in-ground fire pit, with appropriate safety measures and local fire codes observed.

  • Greenhouse Foundation: The tank can serve as a sturdy foundation for a small greenhouse, with the added benefit of using the thermal mass for temperature regulation.

  • Stormwater Management: An old septic tank can be converted into a system for managing stormwater runoff, helping to control flooding in your property.

No matter which option you choose, it's important to properly dispose of any remaining debris or waste from the old septic tank before filling it in. Also, make sure to follow any local regulations and obtain necessary permits before beginning any construction.

Cost To Fill In Old Septic Tank? 

The cost to fill in an old septic tank can vary widely based on several factors, including the tank's size, the local regulations, the method used to decommission the tank, and the contractor's fees. As of my last update, here's a rough breakdown:

  • Pumping and Cleaning: Before filling, the tank must be pumped and cleaned, which can cost between $200 to $400, depending on the size and condition of the tank.

  • Material Costs: The cost of filling material (gravel, sand, or dirt) will depend on the volume needed and local material prices. This could range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.

  • Labor and Equipment: The cost of labor and any necessary equipment for crushing the tank (if required) and filling it can significantly vary. This could add several hundred to a few thousand dollars to the total cost.

Overall, a rough estimate for filling in an old septic tank could range from as low as $1,000 to $3,000 or more. However, prices can differ based on your location, the specific requirements for decommissioning a septic system in your area, and the complexity of the job. It's best to get multiple quotes from local contractors to understand the costs specific to your situation. 


As you consider the signs indicating the age and condition of your septic tank, understanding when it's time for removal and replacement becomes crucial to maintaining a functional and efficient wastewater system. Recognizing these telltale signs can be the first step in ensuring proper care and longevity of your septic tank.

For expert guidance on professional septic tank replacement and reinstallation services, reach out to Barnes Sewer & Septic. Contact them at (765) 584-7295 to explore reliable solutions tailored to your specific septic system needs, ensuring a seamless transition to a new and improved wastewater management system.

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