The Ins and Outs of Septic Tank Pumping

If you have a septic tank, knowing a thing or two about septic tank pumping is incredibly important.

A conventional septic tank needs to be pumped once every three to five years. Pumping removes the buildup of sludge and scum and helps prevent issues like clogs and disposal field failures. Septic tank pumping is not something you think about very often, but it is an essential part of taking proper care of a conventional septic system* (see note). Unfortunately, most people flush and it is out of sight, out of mind.

Why is pumping important?

To understand why pumping is important, you first need a general understanding of how a septic tank works. The purpose of your septic tank is to separate the wastewater from the solid sewage. The grease and oil that remains at the top is called scum, and the solid waste that sinks to the bottom of the tank is called sludge. In between the scum and the sludge remains water that is almost completely free of solids, but contains phosphorous, nitrogen, and other chemicals that act as fertilizer. Through dams and baffles, this water is removed from the septic tank and filtered throughout the septic field (also called a leach field or drain field). The scum and sludge do not leave the tank. The anaerobic bacteria in your tank helps to slowly eat away at the sludge and scum, but it cannot eliminate all of it, and that’s where pumping comes in. Pumping removes the solids, scum, and wastewater that the bacteria cannot handle from your tank.

What happens if you don’t get your tank pumped?

If you neglect getting your septic tank pumped, it can lead to serious consequences. Letting the sludge inside of your septic tank build up could cause it to back-up into your sewer lines. This can lead to sewage flowing into your home. The solid waste can also seep into the drain field and clog it. This is bad for the environment, and will cause foul odors on your property.

How do you know when your septic tank needs to be pumped?

It is important to understand the signs that your septic tank needs to be pumped, including:

  • Pooling water – When your septic tank fills up, it can start to pool into the lawn around your tank and drain field.
  • Unpleasant odors – The more waste that builds up inside of your septic system, the more likely you are to experience unpleasant odors.
  • Slow moving drains – If your drains or toilets are moving slowly or gurgling, it may be a sign that your septic tank is full and needs to be pumped.
  • Sewage backups – Have you experienced sewage backups in your sinks, bathtubs or toilets? If so, your tank is overly full and requires pumping..

It’s important to note that pumping is not the answer to every septic tank problem, and in some cases, it’s merely a short-term fix.

Note: Septic systems with a Septic Genie operate differently. The Septic Genie continually grows a thriving colony of special aerobic bacteria which eats all the scum and sludge in the tank and, over time, clears clogged drain fields. Eliminating the scum and sludge leaves just water in the septic tank, eliminating the need to have the septic tank pumped. Learn more about Septic Genie and find out if it’s the right option for your septic system. Call or visit us online today.




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