Here, we’ll be discussing septic tank pumping and what it entails. This is an essential maintenance activity that needs to be periodically carried out to ensure the smooth functioning of your septic system.

As you read on, you’ll find details on what pumping is about, how it’s done, and who to call for such tasks.

Most cities operate a centralized sewage system. This means waste is centrally treated and disposed of. Septic systems are mostly off-grid and meant to serve households.

Responsibility for maintenance of septic systems rests with homeowners with pumping being the most common task.

The Septic Tank

To understand how septic tank pumping works, it’s necessary to discuss the tank itself.

Septic tanks are made of different materials ranging from concrete, fiberglass, or plastic. These are designed to be watertight and are either buried underground (for below-ground tanks) or installed above ground.

Now, this is the holding tank where all the waste from a home’s sewer is channeled into.

This is made possible by an inlet pipe that connects to the septic tank. Within this tank, waste is separated into phases that include solids, liquid, and grease.

Solids will go to the bottom of your tank where they are gradually broken down.

Septic Tank Pumping: Signs & Procedure

As waste continues to pour into a septic tank, it eventually needs to be pumped out as it gets filled. Here, you’ll find information on what it takes to have it pumped.

Without further ado, let’s delve into details on this topic.

  • When to Have Your Septic Tank Pumped

Pumping a septic tank should follow a schedule. In other words, there’s an ideal time to have your septic tank pumped. According to the EPA, septic tanks need to be pumped once every 3 to 5 years.

However, if you live in a property with more occupants, your septic system will likely experience heavy use.

For such, septic tank pumping may be required yearly especially when the septic tank size isn’t proportionate to the number of people using it.

Before pumping a septic tank, it needs to be inspected. This procedure is very vital as it assesses the state of your tank and the entire septic system. This helps determine if there are underlying problems besides pumping the tank.

If there are, such problems are fixed in addition to pumping the tank.

Every septic system has various components which may vary depending on the type of tank installed. Such components include pumps, electrical float switches, in addition to other components.

These too are inspected during septic tank pumping.

Signs That Indicate When to Pump Your Tank

As long as a septic system functions effectively, a lot of people won’t bother to have it checked. However, common signs may begin to emerge that point in one direction; the need for septic tank pumping.

These are observable signs that require an immediate response (calling septic system technicians).

Common signs indicating the need for septic tank pumping include odor, slow draining, or flushing, and lush green vegetation around the drain field.

Additional signs include higher nitrate levels in well water, standing water, sewage backup, and the due time for pumping.

  • Odor

One of the most common signs pointing to the need for septic tank pumping is odor.

The release of odor from your tank happens when it gets filled up. You’re likely to perceive such odor from your septic tank area as well as from drains and toilets.

When this is perceived, call a septic system technician for further assessment.

  • Slow Draining or Flushing

When a septic system performs at optimal levels, it drains and flushes fast.

This is not the case when a septic tank gets filled up. You’ll notice your toilets, tubs, washing machines, and showers draining quite slow unlike these performed earlier.

This sign points to the possibility of a full septic tank and needs urgent pumping.

  • Lush Green Vegetation

When septic tanks get filled up, you’re likely to find lush green vegetation growing around your drain field area.

These are typically greener than surrounding grasses. This isn’t supposed to happen with a functional septic system.

As such, you may need to call for an inspection to determine if it’s time to have your septic tank pumped.

  • Higher Nitrate Levels in Well Water

When a septic system overflows, it’s likely to leach into nearby water sources.

For areas with well water, such water sources will need to be tested once each year. This testing seeks to observe the nitrate levels. When such levels are higher than normal, it points to the likelihood of an overflowing system.

Your septic tank will need to be pumped to address this problem.

  • Standing Water

Pooling or standing water is a common characteristic that points to the possibility of a full septic tank.

Not all standing water situations point to this problem. Rather, pooling water around your septic tank area as well as the drain field area is the most compelling tell-tale sign.

You’ll need to call for an inspection and possibly have it pumped out.

  • Sewage Backup

One of the easiest ways to know if a septic tank is full and requires pumping is sewage backup. This is quite gross and is a situation you’d rather avoid. So, how do you avoid this situation from happening?

This can be solved by simply maintaining a regular septic tank pumping schedule.

However, now all septic backup situations can be solved by having your septic tank pumped. In some cases, certain underlying problems coupled with a full septic tank may be causing sewage backup.

Inspection by a septic system technician will help identify and address such issues.

  • Due Time for Pumping

As earlier stated, there’s an ideal time for pumping a septic tank.

You’ll need to stick to this rule if you want to avoid additional problems with your septic tank and system. The frequency of pumping largely depends on the number of users.

In other words, the number of people within a household will determine how often a septic tank should be pumped.

Generally, a septic tank should be pumped every one to two years. This frequency of pumping allows your tank to function at optimal levels.

Can Any Action Substitute For Septic Tank Pumping?

There’s always a possibility of homeowners seeking ways around getting their tanks pumped.

The sad news is; there aren’t any shortcuts. You’ll need to have your tank pumped when it’s due for pumping. Such erroneous thinking is largely fueled by products or additives that come with bogus claims.

Some septic tank additives will promise to effectively substitute or fill in the place for pumping. The truth is, many such products won’t get you the results they promise. You’ll need to have your tank pumped by septic system technicians or contractors.

If you insist on using additives in your septic system, you may end up with a greater problem which may cost much more than having a septic tank pumped out.

Sticking to a Pumping Schedule

We’ve stated that a septic tank will need to be pumped once every one to 3 years. The pumping frequency will depend on your tank size and the number of users within a household among other factors.

Now, to enhance the efficiency of your tank and septic system, you’ll need to stick to a pumping schedule.

If you wonder what fits your situation, call for an inspection to determine your tank size and how frequently it should be pumped. When a septic tank is pumped as and when due, the lifespan is extended.

This will also impact positively on the smooth functioning of the entire septic system.

Is There A Difference Between Septic Tank Pumping and Cleaning?

A lot of times, people use the terms pumping and cleaning interchangeably when discussing septic tank maintenance. Although similar, there’s a difference between the two.

Septic tank pumping deals mainly with the removal of effluent or wastewater within the tank, thus leaving behind the sludge.

Septic tank cleaning on the other hand is a much more detailed process. It involves the evacuation of the entire contents (liquids & solids or sludge) of a septic tank.

Both (cleaning and pumping) types of maintenance are essential. However, cleaning is needed less often than pumping.

  • Caring for your Septic System

How well you care for your septic system will determine how smoothly it works. Now, a septic system includes the tank. As such, the care or maintenance you provide may extend the lifespan of your septic tank.

Maintenance tips include proper disposal of garbage, using less heavy-duty cleaners, and calling for urgent repairs when problems are noticed.

  • Proper Garbage Disposal

Whenever you use a garbage disposal, it only ends up increasing the volume of solids in your septic tank. This, in turn, fills up your tank easily thus needing more frequent attention, and ultimately increasing overall septic pumping costs.

  • Using Less Heavy-Duty Cleaners

When a significant amount of heavy-duty cleaners are used, they end up affecting bacterial activity in breaking down waste. This is due to the toxic chemicals found in such cleaners.

  • Calling for Urgent Repairs

When issues affecting the smooth functioning of a septic system are noticed, you must call for immediate repairs. Such problems may be traced to the tank and the need for pumping. Resolving such issues ensures your tank stays in good condition.

Septic tank pumping is a very important maintenance activity that must be carried out when it’s due. Pumping mistakes or even failing to carry out this procedure will result in further damage which increases your repair expenses.