For homeowners wondering why they need to have their septic tank pumped regularly, there’s one simple answer: the bottom line. That’s because routine maintenance like pumping can prevent damage and deterioration to keep your system working better, longer.
If you’re wondering what can happen when your tank isn’t pumped, first you have to know how the system works. When wastewater enters the septic tank, it’s designed to stay within the system for about a day or so. This allows the waste to separate: solids to the bottom, liquids to the middle, and lighter liquids (like grease) to go to the top. The lighter materials are slowly digested by bacteria in the tank while the solids stay within the system long term. The middle liquids are eventually pushed out of the tank by incoming wastewater; these liquids filter into the drain field where they harmlessly dissipate.
There are a variety of consequences to not having your tank cleaned out regularly. One of the first is related to sanitation: If too many solids have accumulated at the bottom of the tank, the incoming liquids won’t have space to stay in the tank long enough to separate adequately. This will result in too much liquid being pushed through the drain field, possibly even leading to standing water on the surface of your yard–and a major health hazard. Another result of inadequate separation is that some of the solids will be pushed into the drain field, clogging it and making it work less efficiently. If too many solids block up the drain field, you may need to have this part of the system replaced. septic pumping
Septic tank pumping involves removing the solids from the bottom of the tank to increase space and make the whole system work more effectively. Typically, septic tank pump outs cost between $75 and $300 dollars, with variations being dependent on tank size and what area you live in. While septic tank pumping isn’t cheap, it is certainly less expensive than the alternatives. Depending on where you live, replacing your tank and/or drain field can cost from $3,000 to $10,000 or more for high-end mound-style designs. That makes even annual pumping far more affordable than septic tank repair or replacement!
How often your septic tank needs a pump out depends both on the size of the tank and how many people live in your household. In general, every five years is a good rule of thumb, but don’t just assume you’re in the clear if your last septic tank cleaning was more recent. If you start to see signs of a full tank–toilet backups and slow drains, warning lights or buzzers, smells or standing water by the drain field–don’t hesitate to call your septic tank company. Any of these indications may point to a tank that needs to be pumped, but they could also be a sign of another septic problem, so make certain to have the pros check out the situation immediately.