Septic 101: A Guide For Homeowners

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4 Questions About Septic Tank Pumping That New Homeowners Want Answered

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The residential septic system utilizes a process that can seem confusing to homeowners, especially those who are having their first experience with one. When dissected, the process becomes relatively simple — gray water and human waste moves from the home to a tank where it is processed and then sent to a drain field to be absorbed into the soil. 

Even when homeowners understand the basics of how their septic system works, they can still have questions, particularly about septic tank pumping, such as why it is needed and how it is performed. 

Why is septic tank pumping important? 

Residential septic tanks can differ in size from a few hundred gallons to several thousand gallons. Over time, any size of septic tank can near its capacity. The time it takes for this to happen can differ greatly, usually depending on the number of occupants in the home and the amount of water and waste the household produces. Pumping the excess waste helps relieve pressure on the septic system by freeing up space inside the tank.

Is the process of septic tank pumping messy? 

Septic tank pumping should not be messy, but may depend on the skill and expertise of the septic pumping service. If the system is designed well, there will be a lidded opening through which the septic pumping service will extract the waste. Once the pumping process is complete, the lid is put back into place until the next servicing appointment. 

Can septic tank pumping extend the life of the system? 

In most cases, utilizing a good schedule of septic tank pumping services can help to keep waste levels within a safe range within the tank. Septic tank pumping can also be an effective means of helping to correct misuse of the septic system, such as when nonbiodegradable materials are flushed into the system, including paper towels, cosmetic applicators, cigarette butts and feminine hygiene products.

Since these materials are not able to be digested by the bacterial action of the septic tank, removing them through the septic tank pumping process can be helpful. 

How often should a septic tank be pumped out? 

The frequency of the need for septic tank pumping is likely to vary from house to house. Homeowners who have just moved into their home may want to have their tank checked as soon as possible to provide information about the current tank level and allow for better estimation of when the next septic tank pumping service call should be scheduled.