Time To Pump Out The Septic Tank

By Todd Fratzel on Maintanence

Septic System Maintenance

Pumping Septic Tank OutIn order for a septic system to work properly it needs to be maintained properly. The single most important thing that needs to be done on regular basis is having the Septic Tank Pumped Out. The septic tank removes solids, grease and soap scum from the sewage before it enters the drainfield (leech field). Some of the solids are broken down over time by bacteria but a majority of it must be pumped out of the tank to prevent premature failure of the drainfield.

Septic Tank Cross-Section

To better understand how solids and sludge are stored in a septic tank I wanted to show you the following diagram from the EPA. As you can see the septic tank has a sludge layer along the bottom of the tank, waste water in the center of the tank and a scum layer at the top. The tank helps prevent the solids and grease (sludge and scum) from leaving the septic tank and flowing into the drainfield where it would clog up the system and cause it to fail.

Septic Tank Cross Section

How Often Should A Septic Tank Be Pumped?

Home owner’s are always asking us how often they should get their septic tank pumped out. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other have guidelines for the frequency of septic tank pumping. Most publications recommend pumping your septic tank every three years unless evidence suggests a different schedule. There are other septic tank publications that give more specific time frames based on tank size, number of people living in the home and whether or not you use a garbage disposal. Our home has a 1500 gallon tank and 4 people living in the home which suggests that we might be able to go 4 years between pumping. However, we also use a garbage disposal which produces are higher quantity of solids.

Our new house was built 3 years ago so I’m going to have the septic tank pumped out this week. I highly suggest that you get the septic tank pumped out after 3 years if it’s a new home or new to you. The septic tank pumping and inspection company will be able to evaluate the depth of sludge and scum to give you a better time frame for the next cycle. It’s better to be conservative on septic tank pumping versus causing damage the the drainfield.

In a future post later this week I’ll show you how the tank is pumped out and discuss how much it costs.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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1 Comment

  1. Cape Cod says:

    Around here, you can’t hook up a garbage disposal into your septic system any more. The town boards of health will not approve of it any more.

    Another septic system killer that is not mentioned often is the washing machine. Having your washing machine hooked into your septic system is required, but the soaps and all the extra water and lint does not help your septic system at all.

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