Septic tanks need to be opened and pumped out. If this is news to you, plug your nose and keep reading.
Homeowners with private septic systems are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of that system. Part of this maintenance includes having the tank pumped. Here's what you need to know about septic pumping and why it is necessary. Oh, and you can just breathe through your mouth. Really. It's not that bad.
What Is a Septic System?
To better understand why septic pumping is important, you need to understand how your system works and how it is different from a municipal sewer system.
When you flush, everything is transported through underground pipes and out of your home. With a municipal sewer system, it is carried all the way to the street, connects with the main pipeline, and travels to the municipality's wastewater treatment plant miles away.
However, when you have a private septic system, the wastewater stays in your yard and enters a tank buried underground. The solids sink, and the liquids, or effluent, are slowly filtered through the adjacent leach field before being returned to the groundwater.
It's those solids that need to be dealt with during a septic pump out.
What Is Septic Pumping?
Septic pumping is the process of removing waste from a septic tank. This waste includes solids that have settled at the bottom of the tank, called sludge, and any scum floating at the top of the tank. Septic pumping is necessary to remove these waste products from the tank to continue functioning properly.
How Is a Septic Tank Pumped?
The septic service company will first need to locate the entrance to your tank. If you have a newer home, the septic tank is often easy to locate. Older homes, however, can require some digging with a shovel to find the tank.
Once opened, they simply insert a hose and pump both the scum and the sludge into an awaiting tanker truck for disposal later.
When Should You Pump a Septic Tank?
When you need to pump your septic tank depends on multiple factors, including:
- How big the tank is
- How many bathrooms you have
- How often you use the bathrooms and showers
- How many people live in your household
Most experts recommend having your septic tank pumped every three to five years.
Pumping your septic tank is an important part of maintaining a private septic system. Neglecting to pump your septic tank can result in sewage backup, so it's important to be proactive about scheduling this maintenance task.