Septic Tank Pumping

How often should I have my Septic Tank Pumped?

By Mark J. Donovan

Septic tank pumping is necessary for homes on private septic systems. Septic tank pumping protects the leaching field from becoming clogged and damaged. The frequency of septic tank pumping is dependent upon the size of the septic tank, the number of people in the household, where you live, and the amount of waste that is fed into the septic tank.

A septic tank is a holding tank for collecting untreated household waste. As the household waste enters the tank it separates into three components. The solids settle to the bottom of the tank to form sludge.

Grease and light solids form a crust that sits at the top of the tank. And the remaining clarified liquid sits in the middle of the septic tank. It is the clarified liquid, or effluent, that exits the septic tank and is dispersed over the leaching field.

If septic tank pumping is not done periodically the sludge can build up to a level such that it begins to exit the outlet pipe of the septic tank and spread throughout the leaching field. In short order the sludge can clog the leaching field. Repairing a leaching field is extremely expensive and replacing one can cost upwards of $20,000.

The frequency of septic tank pumping depends upon the septic design and in particular the size of the septic tank. A septic design is derived from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home as well as soil drainage conditions on the property.

Septic Tank Pumping

Based on the size of the septic tank specified in the septic design and the number of people living in the home, a homeowner can determine how often to have the septic tank pumped. For example, a 1000 gallon septic tank with an average 4 person household should be pumped every 2.6 years. If you are unsure about the size of your septic tank, the septic tank pumping technician should be able to tell you, and recommend the appropriate frequency for pumping your septic tank.

Where you live also plays a role in the frequency of septic tank pumping. In warmer climate areas, the sludge in the tank can break down more completely than in colder climates. Thus colder climate areas should have their septic tanks pumped out more regularly.

Septic tank pumping includes pumping the septic tank sludge and crust from the septic tank. In addition, the septic tank is also inspected for any cracks or roots that may have grown into the septic tank. The septic tank baffles and pump (if a pump up septic system) are also checked for any damage.

Preparation for septic tank pumping requires identifying the location of the septic tank and removing the soil above the septic tank lid. The septic tank pumping service technician can do this, however it may cost you a little more money. If you want to save a few dollars, take a look at your home’s septic design plans to determine where the septic tank is. Then grab your shovel and unearth the septic tank lid yourself.

If septic tank pumping is performed at the correct prescribed frequency your leaching field should be able to last almost indefinitely. So spend the occasional dollars to pump your septic tank. By doing so you’ll save a fortune in repair or replacement costs of your leaching field.

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