Outer Burial Containers and Vaults
The use of an outer burial container is not required by state or federal law, but is usually required by a cemetery, to support the earth around a casket. Your funeral director can provide you guidance in the requirements of the cemetery you will use or they are affiliated with for the burial. The support provided by an outer burial container prevents the weight of the earth, which is approximately 3,000 lbs.) from crushing a casket. Vaults are two-piece, "sealed" or "air-sealed" receptacles. Grave boxes or liners are non-biodegradable receptacles that are not "sealed."
How Are They Constructed?
The types of outer burial containers include rectangular concrete boxes that are not resistant to water and the elements, reinforced concrete vaults lined with semiprecious metals, heavy-gauge galvanized metal units, and plastic resin containers that are resistant to water and the elements. The cost of such containers varies depending on how it is constructed, what materials are used, the style, and interior of the container (whether its coated or lined with non-biodegradable materials) and the overall exterior design.
Strict design specification distinguish vaults from liners: a concrete vault must have a minimum thickness and a minimum compressive strength. Grave liners only require a minimum thickness that is much thinner than the concrete counterparts. The concrete vaults are prepared in molds, hardened, and pre-finished. There are a lot of technicalities with burial vaults that the family does not need to know about. Your funeral director can provide you the simple pros and cons of each type of unit and from there you can make a decision on which way you want to go.
The Purpose and Necessity of Burial Vaults
Basically a burial vault is a lined and sealed outer container that houses the funeral casket. It's sole responsibility is to protect the casket from the weight of the earth and any heavy equipment that passes on top of the grave. It also helps resist water from natural elements and water sprinklers on the cemetery lawn by preventing the ground from settling in. Your funeral home will offer three categories of burial vaults, with differences in the level of protection, warrantees, beauty, and personalization options. They will also be able to provide a small sample for you, in some cases. It is made out of a sturdy construction of concrete, metal, hard plastic or some other material that is very-slow-to-degrade.
In some geographical areas that are significantly higher than sea level, the soil is usually considered stable enough that burial vaults are often optional. In such cases, this should be considered and weighed with your family's needs. These burial vaults are useful in circumstances where a cemetery uses heavy equipment that will be driven often directly over grave sites. Some experts suggest that most graves without a vault are able to withstand the occasional pressure of up to 4,000 pounds. This is something to discuss with your cemetery of choice or funeral home and your decision should be based upon your comfortability with the answers provided to you.