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How often should a septic tank be pumped out

The world is a busy place, especially now, and for most homeowners, wastewater is the last thing on their minds. For a specific subset of homeowners, though, a portion of their sewage system requires regular maintenance to maintain the health of the system — that is, the septic tank. Unlike shared city sewer systems, some private property residences use a septic tank to collect wastewater and sewage. Constructed from concrete or plastic, these tanks have a finite amount of storage, and need to be emptied. But how often should septic tanks be emptied, and how can homeowners tell when the time is right?

When to Empty Septic Tanks

The short answer for both questions above is: it varies, but when the tank is full. So let’s break down the tell-tale signs. 

According to the EPA, the average time for emptying septic tanks is every three-to-five years. This depends on the specific septic system set up for the residence, and systems with “electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year.” Other factors that will affect when the tank should be emptied include the size of the household using the system, the frequency with which the system is used (both in total wastewater generated and in the volume of solid waste generated), and the size of the tank itself.

One primary reason to have the tank emptied more regularly is that this encourages the tank to also be serviced more frequently. Before emptying the tank, professionals will conduct a thorough inspection to ensure there are no leaks or issues with the tank’s integrity. Keeping a schedule or log of each professional pumping and inspection will help homeowners get a better idea of when they need to regularly have their septic tank pumped.

How to Tell When a Septic Tank Is Full 

There are several tell-tale signs that it’s pastime for a tank to be pumped. One way to get ahead of these is by tracking the use of the septic system, such as using this helpful chart from the University of Minnesota

However, if homeowners begin to notice the following, it is also a good sign that the tank is past due to be emptied:

Standing puddles or pools of water in the lawn.

Sewage and drains backing up in the home.

Foul odors emanating within and outside of the home.

Lush, greener grass in the lawn, particularly over the site of the septic tank.

When these issues start to become noticeable, it’s time to contact a plumbing professional to come inspect the tank and empty its contents, particularly if odors and standing water or sewage are appearing, as these can because for health concerns. While it may not be the first item on the weekly chore list, and while it may not have made it onto the list in some time, taking stock of the state of the home’s septic tank is a good idea. If you feel like your tank is at a place to be emptied, or if you think it’s past due for an inspection, reach out to the plumbing professionals. The plumbing experts at Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, and Cooling have over 30 years of experience and will be able to deftly get your tank drained and working properly quickly and efficiently. Call today or schedule with their online scheduling portal.

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