Property owners with septic tanks must pump their tanks on a regular basis to keep them functioning properly. When property owners don't understand septic tank pumping or how septic tanks work, they may find themselves wondering why they must schedule this critical maintenance task. Understanding the ways a septic tank functions can help property owners better understand the value of regular pumping. 


How Do Septic Tanks Work?


A septic tank is a large underground tank that’s capable of holding hundreds of gallons of waste water. Septic tanks come in standard sizes like 1,000 gallons, 1,200 gallons, 1,500 gallons and so on. The septic tank is connected to the house via the plumbing main line. All waste water in the home, which drains from sinks, toilets, showers and bathtubs, feeds into the septic tank via this line. 


When the waste water enters the septic tank, it separates into three layers: solids at the bottom (sludge), water in the middle, and fats and oils at the top (scum). Bacteria that lives in the tank helps to break down the sludge, turning it into a liquid. 


Near the top of the septic tank is a pipe that leads to a part of the yard called the drain field. When the waste water in the septic tank reaches this pipe, the water flows into the drain field and is filtered through the soil. The soil cleans the water, preventing contamination of ground water in the area. 


What Happens When the Septic Tank Is Pumped?


Over time, sludge will build up in the bottom of the tank. Even though bacteria does help control the amount of sludge in the bottom of the tank, this bacteria cannot break down sludge fast enough to completely eliminate sludge and keep the tank clean. When the tank is pumped, the sludge is removed and the tank is emptied. 


What Are the Consequences of Not Pumping Your Tank?


If the tank is not pumped, the solids will build up in the tank and the holding capacity of the tank will be diminished. Eventually, the solids will reach the pipe that feeds into the drain field, causing a clog. 
When the drain field pipe becomes clogged, homeowners may see a variety of symptoms including: \


  • Smell of sewage in the yard
  • Swampy areas over the drain field
  • Bright green, healthy grass over the drain field 
  • Waste water backing up into the house. 
  • Lowest drains in the house become slower 


It doesn't take long for these problems to become critical. Most homeowners find that the only way to solve this problem is to call in a professional. 


How Often Should You Pump Your Tank?


Most homeowners need to pump their septic tank every 3-5 years depending on the size of the tank and the amount of wastewater produced by the household. It's very important for the septic tank to be sized properly for the number of people living on the property. 


A 1,000-gallon tank should be adequate for a home with 1-3 bedrooms. The same house with a 750-gallon tank may produce too much waste water for the size of the tank. In this case, the tank would require frequent pumping. 


Why Should You Contact a Septic Tank Professional?


Some homeowners have a hard time deciding how often their septic tank needs to be pumped. At Total Enviro Services, Inc, we help homeowners decide when their tank needs to be pumped and what their pumping schedule should be. We can answer your questions about your septic tank to help you keep it in proper working condition. To find out more, contact us today.