One thing to keep in mind when approaching the idea of purchasing an older property including a home, especially one that hasn’t been in continuous use, is what the septic system situation is.

Maintenance of the septic system hasn’t always been top of mind, and in the past, leaving old septic tanks where they were constructed once a home was abandoned, or once city sewer connection became available, was somewhat commonplace.

Just because a septic system is abandoned or out of current use doesn’t mean it can’t be a hazard on your property, however. Following are a few tips on why this could be problematic and should be identified and handled posthaste:

Potentially harmful sewage

Where you find old septic tanks, you’ll find old waste. Duh, right? Where this becomes an issue is that old human waste (or animal waste too for that matter, although you generally shouldn’t put that in your septic system) creates methane, which neither you nor your loved ones need to be exposed to for any length of time, for a variety of reasons. Complicating this issue is that many old-school septic tanks are steel, which, having been underground for decades, will begin to rust and rot.

Potential sinkholes

Continuing with this theme, most modern septic tanks are plastic or concrete and will not rust. But the old steel ones do, in exposure to all the water contact that comes with being buried in the ground. If a lid or roof to a septic tank rots away, that’s a sinkhole waiting to happen. Both the physical act of falling into a big hole in the ground and also what a person or animal would be falling into, as described in the previous item in this list, would be hazardous to that individual’s health. Sinkholes also could cause a multitude of other sorts of damage to one’s property in addition to their person.


Old tanks, properly secured or not, could come unmoored in times of heavy precipitation, melting snow or flooding for any other reason. This could release potential contaminants in addition to being a prime suspect for property damage as well.

Septic tanks no longer in use, for whatever reason, can cause any number of problems to a property owner’s structure, land or personal health. If you discover your property has an abandoned septic system, contact Little’s Septic to work through how to safely alleviate the issues it might present.