How often should a septic tank be pumped? On average a septic tank needs to be flushed/pumped every three to five years depending on the number of people residing in a home and how often you go to the bathroom. 🙂
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Pumping for larger tanks
Many households that have larger tanks will also need to be pumped every three to five years because if you let the tank be full for a very long time without draining it the waste will settle down at the bottom of the tank and will eventually become as hard as a rock. This will then require breaking it up using either manual labor or digger machines depending on the size of the tank. This can add a ton of extra cost to the whole project so it is my recommendation to always try to flush out the tank every three years. When I say extra I mean costs in the thousands of dollars range rather than the hundreds it takes to flush out the tank as you will find very few people willing to dig through poop solidified as rock, which smells really bad.
You may also need to change the tank in its entirety if it gets too hard to even dig. And you know how costly that adventure can become.
Pumping for smaller tanks
Smaller tanks have one disadvantage that is they can get filled up very quickly, so regular maintenance is a must. Every three-year pumping is recommended by me but if you find your tank getting clogged earlier, then a pump: every one to two years is a must. You absolutely do not want your tank to overflow and get waste clogged up in your septic pipes. Cause it carries the danger of having to redo the whole sewage system of the house if your sewage pipes get clogged. If a smaller tank gets clogged, then waste starts accumulating in your sewage pipes and that can cause a lot of problems, trust me, it is a horror story. The average replacement cost of a sewage system is as high as $10,000 on average.
Can you pump a septic tank too often?
Well, no you can’t. Pumping a septic tank is just like disposing of the trash. There is no right or wrong answer. IF you have a smaller tank in a house where a large family lives together then you will have to pump out the tank more frequently. Similarly for a house with a single owner pumping out the septic tank would be less frequent than average.
Though one can argue that if you pump out the tank very often that you can end up spending too much on unneeded costs. This is why I recommend buying an alarm system for your septic tank. These alarm systems are very cheap and have the advantages of notifying you not only when a pump is needed but also when a pump is not needed.
How often do you need to pump a 1000 (thousand) gallon septic tank?
A 1000 (thousand) gallon septic tank is the average volume that most US households install in a normal residential property. If this tank is used by a family of five then it would get full in about five to seven years. So, this tank would require pumping every three to five years. The pumping is more frequent than the time needed to fill the tank as we don’t want the septic tank to get filled up to the max. Similarly, a house with a family of ten would need a pump after one and half years to two and a half years. A single guy living in a house alone would require a pump every five to seven years.
What happens if a septic tank is not pumped?
When a septic tank is not cleaned for a long time the sludge, scum and debris start to pile up. Once the tank is near getting full it will start to clog up the toilets and the sewage pipes with the sum as more of the sewage will start to accumulate in the sewage pipes. When the sewage pipes are partially clogged it will lead to more waste being deposited on the pipes rather than entering the tank. The pipes will clog up and cause a huge disaster much more before the actual tank gets filled up to the top. This is due to immense pressure buildup in a closed container.
Many people are told the problem of sewage tank leakage, will yellow water and water rising in their gardens and their toilets. In my experience, this has never happened till the pipes get clogged up. The yellow water in a toilet that never seems to go away is an indication that your pipes are already clogged up well. So, I recommend again and again to people to invest in a sewage tank alarm or level indicator to save themselves from the huge bills that come up with a ruined wastage disposal system. I have linked a septic tank alarm below on amazon. This one is rugged enough to last for a few decades at the minimum, you can click the link to see it here.
What are the signs that your septic tank is full?
The four main signs of a septic tank that has been filled up are:
- Waste becomes harder to flush and require one to two flushes on average
- Your bathrooms will start to smell, this smell is due to an overfilled tank that has a sewage at the same level as your main sewage disposal pipe in the tank
- If you have open sewage lines that are visible they will start to leak, which is very evidently visible. THis also indicates the possible location in your sewage pipes where waste and sludge has built up.
- Your outdoor lawn will start to smell. This usually occurs if your septic tank has started to leak due to the buildup pressure and is a very late sign.
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