3.  What is a vault and do I need one?

Recently I was asked this question out in town.  A woman attended the funeral of a friend and was impressed by the display of the vault lid at the gravesite as well as the personalization with the decedent’s name and decorative emblem.  The visual left a lasting impression on her mind.

Often time I’m asked by a family, “what is a vault?” which segues to the next question, “why do I need one?”.  A vault can best be described as an outer protective casing for a casket.  Over time elements of the earth can weigh upon the casket, thus compromising its integrity.  While caskets are strong, sturdy and durable over hundreds of years, they will show some signs of weathering as heavy machinery and equipment move across cemetery grounds to make way for new burials.  The other purpose of a vault is water protection.  Certain materials will also aid in preventing water from infiltrating the casket.  The two primary materials that vaults are comprised of are steel and concrete.  A steel vault will allow water to pass through, and the unit itself will protect the integrity of a casket. A concrete vault equally provides protection for a casket.  However, concrete is a porous material that water can seep through.  It is a lined concrete vault that provides the ultimate protection.  The interior lining acts as a barrier against water, prohibiting it from passing to the casket. 

There are other options to choose when selecting a vault.  After the steel or basic concrete, you can select upgrades such as stainless, copper and bronze.  The upgrades also have additional layers of the interior wall lining.

There is no statewide law in NY or CT that requires vaults be purchased at a cemetery.  Some cemeteries, however, have internal requirements of vaults throughout or in specific sections.  Vaults can be required in areas where multiple depth burials will take place.  They can also be required for cemeteries in low lying or flood prone areas.

Every selection you make when arranging a funeral should bring forth heightened peace of mind.  You should never feel pressured nor feel as if you are with a salesman.  When in doubt ask questions.  Your funeral director should take as much time as you need so that you have a thorough understanding of services, products and other merchandise. 

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