Can My Septic Tank Explode?

You may have heard tales about the spontaneous combustion of septic tanks, and unfortunately, there are cases in which the worst has occurred, destroying not only the septic system but the house and surrounding property. While having your septic tank explode would be rare, it is possible under the right conditions.

Dangerous Septic System Conditions

The fact is, toxic explosive gases come with waste disposal systems. Methane, a byproduct of digestion (the process of dissolving organic solids by anaerobic bacteria), is highly combustible (methane is also used for electricity) and can build up inside a septic system. For this reason, professionals use protective gear and ventilation equipment to stay out of harm’s way when servicing your septic tank. For example, when a technician goes into the tank, there should be at least two or three people above it who can rescue the worker should he or she collapse wearing a breathing apparatus or lifeline.

Safety Precautions for Septic Tanks

To inhibit buildup of toxic gases, a septic tank should be adequately ventilated. To ensure professionals and individuals stay safe, most local codes have strict requirements for ventilation equipment. For example, single-compartment tanks must have at least one to two inches of space above the baffles to the underpart of the tank lid. If the tank is compartmented, there should be ventilation between compartments. If these guidelines aren’t followed, methane and other gases could collect in the air.

This caution bleeds over into all types of waste management. Did you know landfills have pipes that ventilate gases generated by decomposing garbage? Some landfills even burn these gases off to ensure they don’t build up.

For an explosion to happen, a heat source must be part of the mix (cigarettes, electrical tools, sparks). If combustible gases come into contact with this heat source, an explosion could absolutely occur. With this idea in mind, it’s essential to keep anything that might spark away from your septic system.


Not only does waste contain bacteria and other substances that could make you sick, but it generates toxic gas capable of exploding and/or burning down structures. When your tank needs servicing, trust the professionals. They have experience and training in septic tank safety and are less likely to bring harm to themselves or others.

For help installing, maintaining, or repairing your septic system in the Charlotte or Concord areas, remember to call Rooter Express NC today.

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