Septic Pumping Tips
If your home has a septic system, pumping the septic tank is a routine maintenance cost that most homeowners budget for. But how much value are you getting out of your septic pumping service? Do they just show up, pump out your tank and leave? Maybe you’ve never thought to ask.
When you hire a septic company to perform routine septic pumping services, of course you expect them to pump the solids out of your tank and take them away. But when the tank is empty, this is the perfect time to check for potential problems with the tank and make recommendations to correct the problem before it causes the entire system to fail. It is important to perform a three-point check every time your septic tank is pumped: Check the tank baffle(s), gray water to solids ratio, and soil intrusion into your tank.
Tank Baffles – The baffles in your septic tank are designed to prevent solids from flowing into your disbursement system, otherwise known as your “leaching field.” Tank baffles are often the first part to go in the tank. If caught soon enough, replacing a baffle is simple and costs a lot less than replacing a failed leaching field.
Gray Water To Solids Ratio – How often you pump your tank is sometimes estimated by the number of bedrooms or specifically the number of people living in your house and the size of your septic tank. Technically, the frequency of pumping is determined by the solids to water ratio. A septic tank should not exceed 25% solid waste. This also can cause solids to enter the septic leaching field. By observing this, your septic company should be able to fine-tune your pumping schedule to get more life out of your leaching field.
Ground Water Intrusion – Another problem with septic tanks is groundwater intrusion, which shows as a heavy rust discoloration at the top of the tank. This can be an indication that somewhere the concrete has worn or cracked. Excessive water entering your tank can overload your leaching system. It also can point to a structural problem in your tank or sewage line that can be addressed before it becomes bigger.
Aside from these three checkpoints which are standard with most septic pumping services, if your septic system has a filter or an effluent pump (if your leaching field is higher than your tank you have an effluent pump) those should be cleaned as well. Black water is another flag to look for when pumping out your tank. Black water means aerobic bacteria has died and the septic tank is not functioning properly. Often times this points to a ventilation problem.
On the average, a four bedroom home with a 1500 gallon tank is usually pumped every 2 to 3 years. Proper septic system care and maintenance can extend the life of your septic system five, ten, or even fifteen years longer than a septic system that is neglected. If you’re not sure how often your tank should be pumped, give your local septic company a call. A reputable company should be willing to send someone to visit your home and consult with you.