If your home is part of the quarter of homes with a septic system, you want to make sure that your septic tank is well maintained (and fed) to keep some smelly problems from arising. One way to keep from having to do septic tank repair is to make sure that you’re checking your septic tank annually to see if you need septic pumping to happen that year. Generally, you’ll need to think about pumping your septic tank every one to three years, to keep sludge and scum from building up too much. With too much build up, your septic tank runs the risk of not working as efficiently and getting backed up or clogged, which can mean bad news for your septic tank field, pipes, and home. There are also ways you can extend the time between pumping your septic tank.
Why Do I Need My Septic Tank Pumped?
To answer this question, we need to talk about how your tank works. When your wastewater makes its way to the septic tank — water from the toilet, shower, sink, etc., — it divides in layers of solids, liquids, oils and fats. Since solids are the heaviest, they sink to the bottom, where they form the sludge in your tank. Liquids make up the second layer that are usually about 90% of the tank’s capacity, and oils and fat make the top layer of scum.
When your tank is working optimally, the sludge is broken down by bacteria and the water gets distributed to the drainage field where it gets absorbed by the soil. Eventually, however, the sludge does build up, despite the bacteria’s work, and you’ll need to get your tank pumped, to create more space in the tank. The more sludge the tank has, the less room there is for the water, which can cause the sludge to start backing up, leading to problems.
How Do I Go About Pumping My Septic Tank?
It’s advised that you don’t try and go ahead with pumping your septic tank yourself — this is a job for the professionals, especially as they have the means to safely transport and dispose of the sludge pumped out of the tank.
You will need to find the access lids to your tank and clear them for the septic service. Once the septic service arrives, you’ll find that the process itself is actually quite easy.
A vacuum hose will go into the tank and pump out the solids and liquids from the tank into the truck. After your tank is emptied, your tank will get a thorough cleaning and the technician will take a look around the now empty tank, to make sure there’s no structural damage, such as cracks.
During the process, the septic tank company will keep an eye on the proceedings, making sure there’s no leaks or backflow.
How Can I Keep My Septic Tank Well Maintained?
One great way to keep your septic tank happy is to reduce your water usage. Fix those leaks, turn off the water if you’re brushing your teeth, and see if there’s a fixture you can install that reduces how much water you use when you flush. The less water that goes down your pipes, the less wastewater your septic system has to process.
You should also be mindful about what you flush — nothing other than toilet paper should go down our toilet. These can easily clog or harm your tank. And, a kitchen garbage disposal can also be harmful to your septic tank, since they increase how many solids are in your tank by 50%. A compost pile is much more effective for disposing of food scraps, coffee grounds, and more.
In terms of your drainage field, you should never park or put anything heavy on it, to avoid a breach of the tank, and you should only plant grass on it — no concrete or gravel. Grass is the best choice for letting it drain.
By following these steps, you can avoid pumping your septic tank more than you have to, saving you stress, money, and time.
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