Approximately 25% of homes in the US have dedicated on-site septic systems.
If your home has a septic tank, it is imperative to understand the imminent risks of damage to your septic tank, especially when its lid holds too much weight, like that of your car.
Instances like hitting your septic tank when driving or parking atop it can cause a major collapse or cause serious damage.
In this regard, if you want to reroute your driveway or build a septic tank, you may want to know….
How Close Can A Driveway Be To A Septic Tank?
Well, while septic code does not explicitly discuss clearance distance from driveways, a minimum horizontal distance of 10 feet between the edge of a driveway and the nearest edge of a septic is typical. This is very important considering that septic tanks are made from concrete and are subject to braking when a heavy vehicle drives near or over it, which can result in costly repairs.
Of significance, although some contractors claim to design septic tanks to be driven on, it is never a good idea to drive or park over or too close to a septic tank.
This post will cover more on septic tank and field clearance distances to help you comply with building codes and understand the safety concerns of driving on or too close to septic systems.
See Also: How Close Can A Driveway Be To A Well?
Two Risks Of Placing The Septic Tank Too Close Or Under The Driveway
Owning a property with a septic tank is not always straightforward. There is a lot to be aware of and many ordinances to consider.
Minimum setback requirements usually prevent building over or too close to a septic tank.
The setbacks are meant to ensure your health and safety, as well as the structural integrity of your septic tank.
They also help ensure that the construction, use, and operation of the septic tank does not, in any way, limit the use and operation or damage nearby structures and vice versa.
Regarding how close a driveway can be close to your septic tank, the general rule seems to be a horizontal distance of at least 10 feet between your driveway and the nearest edge of your septic.
However, this can vary from state to state, so check local zoning ordinances for exact clearance distances.
No matter how stringent local ordinances are on the clearance distances around septic tanks, there are practical reasons why you don’t want to have your driveway too close to or over the septic tank.
Here are the risks that having a driveway too close to or over a septic tank pose:
1. The Septic Tank Can Potentially Collapse
Septic tanks are usually made using concrete.
And while concrete is prominent for performance and sturdiness, you should never put your concrete septic tank too close or under a driveway for obvious reasons.
Concrete can break when a heavy vehicle drives over it.
Of significance, even if your septic top is engineered to be driven on, driving over it for long makes it susceptible to breakage.
Over time, the septic lid will crack, and upon reaching breaking point, it will fall in, taking your car with it or becoming a risky sinkhole.
Driving near your septic is even riskier when the ground is wet — when the ground is soaked, the bulky weight of your vehicle can easily cause it to shift, resulting in a surprise collapse.
If your septic tank breaks, it also poses serious risks to your health and neighborhood, especially during floods when everything that goes into the septic is likely to spread.
Typically, septic tanks need to be sited in an area that won’t be experiencing traffic.
You can even flag the area where your septic tank is located to keep your guests from inadvertently driving or parking over it.
2. Having A Driveway And Septic Tank Near Each Other Can Attract Fines
Most zoning ordinances stipulate the minimum space needed around septic tanks, with the majority requiring homeowners to maintain 5′ to 10′ setbacks from septic systems.
For your safety and to preserve the integrity of your septic tank and driveway, it is vitally important to conform to the setback requirements.
Failing to adhere to clearance distance not only puts your health at risk but also can land you in serious legal cases, which can leave you with a huge fine to pay.
To avoid such nasty instances, check local zoning ordinances; otherwise, you may find yourself in a fix.
If you can’t find any information regarding how close a driveway should be to a septic tank, maintain a minimum horizontal distance of 10 feet between the edges of your septic and other structures like driveways and the house.
Can You Safely Drive Or Park Over A Septic Tank?
Building codes dictate septic tanks be several feet away from nearby structures. When it comes to driving over a septic tank, it is generally not a good idea to drive or even park atop any septic tank.
However, there are exceptions. For instance, your septic tank might be designed to be driven on.
If you must drive over a septic tank, the most important thing is to ensure its lid is designed for the anticipated traffic load.
This is extremely important because driving over septic tanks risks costly damage to the tank and the entire septic system and may also be dangerous.
If you have a dedicated on-site septic tank on your property and are looking to extend your driveway, you may want your septic system first checked by a qualified engineer.
Depending on the strength of your septic tank, your contractor might recommend otherwise.
Generally, it is safe to drive over or park on a septic tank if it is properly designed to be driven on — The septic tank needs to be structurally sound with a lid rated to withstand the anticipated weight of vehicles. Otherwise, do not drive over your septic tank.
What Happens When You Put A Septic Tank Under A Driveway?
Septic tanks can at least take some weight without getting damaged. For those designed to withstand a lot more weight, it can be safe to put them under a driveway.
But, before putting your septic entirely under a driveway, there are some things to contemplate.
Whenever the idea of building your driveway over a septic tank crosses your mind, think of how you will be emptying the tank.
This is crucial considering the fact that you will need to empty your septic tank every few years.
Even if your septic tank is designed to withstand heavy vehicles, extending your driveway to cover it completely limits you from pumping out the waste, which can be a serious concern.
Typically, septic tanks need to be within 30 meters of an access point to make emptying easy.
Further, it would be best if you did not cover the lid of your septic tank for hassle-free opening.
Both septic tanks and driveways are important elements of any home, and they all need to be built to standard.
Generally, septic tanks should never be put under driveways because of the imminent risks of damage to the septic tank.
Even if your septic is designed to be driven on, you need to think twice before extending your driveway too close to it.