Septic tanks require pump-outs (cleaning) when the solids that accumulate in the tank begin to reach the tank’s storage capacity. The tank should be pumped when total solid accumulation is between 30% and 50% of the total capacity. Since there is no general rule on when to pump, the “error of safety” would be to pump tanks more often than not. Here is some information about what occurs in the pumping/cleaning process.
Q: What will the pumper do?
A: Before Pumping: We will note liquid level of the tank in relation to the tank’s outlet pipe. A liquid level below the outlet pipe usually indicates a tank leak. A liquid level above the outlet pipe can indicate a problem with the pipe to the disposal field or the disposal field itself.
During Pumping: Pump the tank from the lid/manhole. Pumping from the inspection ports may damage tees & baffles. However, if pumping must occur from inspection ports, we will be sure to pump from both ports in order to pump all areas of the tank.
We will watch for back-flow from the tank’s outlet pipe. Significant back-flow indicates a disposal field system backup. A small amount of back-flow can indicate a sag in the pipe to the disposal field. Back-flow from the inlet pipe may indicate a leaking or broken toilet.
We will pump the tank thoroughly. Using a seepage spoon, we break up any heavy solids that may have built up. We will back-flush to loosen the sludge in the corners of the tank. Some tanks require further back-washing (several times if needed) to loosen the sludge layer that have accumulated due to lack of proper maintenance. We do NOT “seed” the tank by leaving seepage in it. We do NOT power wash or scrub the tank’s walls. This is not recommended.
After pumping: Check the empty tank and note any signs of structural damage such as cracks, leaks, broken or missing baffles (inlet and/or outlet). Replacement of tank lid. File report with the town (if required)
Q: Can I reduce the number of pump-outs needed?
A: We recommend cleaning and maintenance every 2-3 years or more frequently depending on water usage and/or condition/age of the disposal area. Pump (dosing) Tanks and effluent pumps especially should be on a preventative maintenance schedule to prevent costly repairs & down time of your septic system. If a septic tank is pumped less often than it should be, the soil absorption system (disposal field) may have an early failure, resulting in a costly replacement for the homeowner. It is better to be safe than sorry and pump the tank a little more often with a qualified septic contractor.
By following our “Septic 101” on care & maintenance you can have a healthy, long lasting septic system.
But just remember: The US Government Department of Health, Education and Public Welfare Service says: “A Septic tank system will serve a home satisfactorily only if it is properly designed, installed and adequately maintained. Even a good system which does not have proper care and attention may become a nuisance and burdensome expense”.