When septic tank maintenance is being discussed cleaning and pumping come up a lot. Now, these two terms are often used interchangeably. In reality, however, they mean different things entirely.

Either word describes the degree of septic tank cleanup.

Given the confusion, we’ll be discussing septic tank pumping Vs septic tank cleaning to provide some clarifications.

By the end of this article, you should have better clarity on the type of service needed by you.

Differentiating Septic Tank Pumping And Cleaning

When compared, both pumping and cleaning of a septic tank have certain similarities as well as differences. In terms of similarities, both actions are aimed at removing or clearing up the contents of a septic tank.

However, the difference between the two is seen in the degree to which the job is done.

In other words, septic tank pumping seeks to get rid of floating solids as well as liquids. That’s as far as it goes.

The sludge isn’t included in this waste removal process. Septic tank cleaning on the other hand is much more detailed.

Such cleaning involves the removal of all wastewater as well as sludge resting at the base of the septic tank. In addition to vacuum trucks, other forms of specialized tools are used for both jobs.

So, having highlighted the key similarities and differences between the two, which is more important?

Which is Better?

There’s always a tendency to ask which of the two types of septic tank maintenance procedures is best. The explanations given above show that each type seeks to perform a definite task.

Therefore, the question of which is better shouldn’t arise at all.

In other words, septic tanks don’t always need to be cleaned. Sometimes, pumping is all that’s needed for a septic tank to function efficiently. Understanding the workings of a septic tank gives you more insight into the need for both services.

Both pumping and cleaning are important to the health of a septic tank. When wastewater enters a septic tank, it gets separated into three main phases namely; the scum, effluent, and sludge layers.

As long as the sludge layer isn’t too thick, there’ll be no need for septic cleaning. In such a case, septic tank pumping will suffice. This involves the removal of floating solids as well as liquid.

With time, the sludge layer thickens. This will require clearing up.

Clearing up the sludge layer is necessary as it takes up the usable volume in the tank. Septic tank cleaning simply makes more room available for wastewater treatment. To clear up the sludge layer, the liquid, and floating solids will have to be pumped out, and lastly, the sludge too.

Now, there are times when the sludge layer gets or becomes too thick. This is mostly the case when it has been left in the tank for a long. In other words, thick sludge is often seen when a septic tank hasn’t been cleaned for long.

So, how is the compacted sludge cleaned?

Septic removal companies have several ways of dealing with the situation. The most common involves the use of high-pressure hoses which help break up the sludge into tiny bits for the pump truck to vacuum them in.

Cost Comparisons

Both pumping and cleaning a septic tank comes with their cost implications. As discussed so far, a septic tank does not need to be cleaned as frequently as it’s pumped.

Cleaning only becomes necessary when the sludge levels of the tank increases. Space will need to be created for better waste treatment.

So, speaking of cost, you’re likely to spend less to have your septic tank pumped than what you’ll be charged to have it cleaned. The reasons are obvious.

With pumping, there’s no need to break up any sludge. Only liquids and floating solids are evacuated and nothing more.

Are There Ways Of Reducing Sludge Levels Without Cleaning A Septic Tank?

Maintaining a septic tank calls for the adoption of efficient strategies that keep it in optimal condition. This includes ensuring the sludge levels don’t take up much of the tank volume.

Questions on the possible reduction of sludge levels without cleaning often arise.

Luckily, there are ways through which such goals can be achieved. A majority of septic tanks are designed for anaerobic bacterial action. This means bacteria found in anaerobic septic tanks do not require oxygen to breakdown organic waste.

There’s a downside to this situation; only aerobic bacteria can break up or consume the sludge in your tank. Some modifications can be made by installing an aeration system.

This system helps diffuse air into your septic tank for better aerobic bacterial action.

Bio activators are also used to improve the breakdown of sludge in septic tanks. In some cases, compacted sludge is manually broken up. However, this is hard work and may not be as efficient as the others.

How Do I Know If My Septic Tank Needs Pumping or Cleaning?

The type of maintenance service to be carried out on your septic tank depends on its condition. A septic tank may be due for cleaning if such a tank hasn’t been cleaned in a long time.

In such situations, the sludge levels are high and take up a significant volume of the tank.

The process of knowing involves calling for professional help by way of inspections. Most reputable septic companies will first conduct an assessment of your septic tank before deciding what actions will best suit the situation.

When sludge levels are low, pumping would suffice as cleaning won’t be necessary. Therefore, it all depends on the findings made by the technicians or septic removal services.

Maintenance Schedule

Keeping a maintenance schedule for a septic tank is very important. This greatly improves its condition and functionality. It’s generally recommended that septic tanks be pumped once every 3 to 5 years.

However, inspections can be conducted yearly to determine if there’s any need for repairs.

One of the best approaches to take is to allow experienced and reputable septic technicians to make critical decisions for you. They know better and should be able to guide you on what maintenance action to take.

So far, we’ve seen the similarities and differences between septic tank pumping and cleaning. Both of these are critical to your tank’s condition.

As always, expert advice is highly crucial in maintaining a functional system.

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