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septic tank maintenance

we have a septic tank with the access in the back yard. I am not sure who to believe about how often to pump it out or even if we need to pump it out at all. when we get it pumped out, whether it has been one year or three years since the last pumping, is "it was at the top and was ready to be pumped out". seems like it is always "ready to be pumped out". so what is the real need for maintenance on septic tanks? thanks

Re: septic tank maintenance

The reason for septic tanks is to separate the solids a from the liquid. If the tank isn't pumped and the solids are allowed to enter the drain field they can prevent the field from working. In most cases it should be pumped every three years. Have it pumped after three years and the septic company should be able to tell you if it needed pumping in that time period or if you could have waited a little longer.


Re: septic tank maintenance

Ideally there is breakdown of the solids in the tank and the liquid part (effluent) heads out into the leech field. When working perfectly the solids break down and get washed into the field for disposal and never needs to be pumped out.

However, when people mistreat their tanks they get into trouble. They forget that the tank is a living organic system, and flush / pour all manner of things down the toilet / drain that kills off the wee beasties in the tank. Grease is the #1 enemy of septic systems. Fat from meats is included there. Keeping a grease jar for a method of disposal will help greatly.

The next is flushing things that never decompose such as plastics.

Your tank may be filled with effluent and not solids. When it gets pumped out, note the depth of the leech field pipes. That should be the height of the liquid in the tank. If the tank has a lid, take it off a few weeks after its been cleaned. Check the water level. It should be at the height of the leech field pipes. If it isn't you have a problem with the leech field.

Using Harsh detergents, bleach, soaps, and such also kills off those wee beasties you need alive in your tank. Be very careful when using household cleaners.

Re: septic tank maintenance

In the real world we all use the items you say not to put into your septic system. That is the reason to have them pumped every three years.


Re: septic tank maintenance

Yes, you need to pump it out every few years, but this can stretch beyond three with careful maintenance and usage.

Frequency - Depends on number of people and size of tank. Your home buying info or city/county-filed septic plan should include the size.

Maintenance - A little maintenance goes a long way. This goes in terms of both the products you insert as waste (laundry, bath, kitchen) and as cleanser (pipes, drains, toilets). IMHO, the more natural, the better; for both waste and cleanser.

Cut your cost of septic pumping - By pooling with your neighbors to have several homes treated at the same time. Ask for a group discount.

Re: septic tank maintenance

I have a very small septic tank about 50 years old, just two of us in the house. We find it only necessary to pump the tank every 10 years. We do not have a GD, we gray water the washing machine ouput, do not put harsh chemicals of bleech in the septic. Frequency will depend on your usage and care.


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