Septic System Maintenance
In 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.
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.