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How To Avoid Septic Sludge: When To Get Your Tank Pumped

How to Avoid Septic Sludge: When to get your tank pumped

If you are like many people with septic tank systems, you may be neglecting the routine maintenance required to keep your system functioning properly. Disregarding regular maintenance and pumping can lead to waste puddles in your yard, overflow in toilets and drains, and costly repairs for your septic tank system. 

As we discussed in our last blog, there are microorganisms in your septic tank that break down the solid waste from your house into what is called liquid effluent. If your septic tank system is working correctly, this liquid waste can move into the drainfield with ease. However, waste builds up faster than it can be decomposed, which can cause solid waste to mix in with the liquid effluent and clog the outlet pipe to the drainfield. To avoid this, homeowners with septic systems must have their septic tanks pumped regularly. 

What does a septic system pump involve?

When it’s time to get your septic tank pumped, you may want to know what to expect so you can prepare questions for your septic tank specialist. Here is the step-by-step process for pumping a septic tank: 

  1. Locating the tank. When the septic tank system contractor arrives at your home, they will ask you about any issues you may be having and then locate your septic tank by prodding the soil. 
  1. Accessing the tank lid. The contractor will then dig a small hole in your yard, about 18×18 inches, to get to the cement access lid for the septic tank. 
  1. Checking the tank levels. The outlet pipe prevents sewage backflow from entering the outlet pipe to the drainfield. The septic tank professional will check this to make sure it is functioning properly to keep large solids from entering the outlet pipe. They will also check to make sure your liquid effluent levels are not too high, which could indicate a clog, or too low, which could indicate a leak.  
  1. Removing the solid waste and sludge. The next step is to remove the solid waste and sludge from the septic tank. The septic tank professional prods the bottom of the tank with a septic “spoon” to loosen the sludge on the bottom of the tank as a lengthy vacuum hose connected to a truck tank removes all of the solids and sludge from your septic tank. The septic professional will then spray down the interior of the tank with clean water. 
  1. Checking the system. Once the tank is clean, the expert will inspect the various components in your tank to ensure everything is in its proper state and working correctly. Based on what they discover here, they can tell you if any repairs are necessary and how often you will need to get your tank pumped based on the fill levels they saw when accessing your tank. 
  1. Replacing the sod. Finally, the expert will close the lid on the tank, refill the dirt, and put your sod back where it was before the process started. The entire process should take about 35 minutes, but it could take longer if your tank has accumulated too much solid waste. 

How often should I get my septic tank system pumped?

Septic tanks need to be pumped before the sludge layer inside reaches a certain point, usually when levels are within 12 inches of the outlet pipe. There are four things that affect how often you need your septic pumped (EPA):

  • How many people live in your home
  • Amount of wastewater generated
  • Amount of solids in wastewater
  • Size of the septic tank

You need a septic tank professional to visit every 1-3 years to check these levels for you. They can tell you whether or not it is time for a pump, how often your tank will need pumping, and they can check that everything is working properly. Typically, septic tanks require pumping every two to three years. 

If you wait too long for septic tank system maintenance, it can result in disgusting backup inside your home or yard. At that point, you will probably need costly septic tank repairs that you would have otherwise avoided. If you do end up needing septic tank repairs, the experts at Economy Septic Tank Systems are here to help you navigate what needs to be done with years of experience and fair pricing. 


When it’s time to pump your septic tank, choose first-rate septic system professionals you can trust

Economy Septic Tank offers first-rate septic system service you can trust. Serving Alabama for over 40 years, our dedicated team members are fully licensed, bonded, and insured. We always exceed expectations! If you are experiencing issues with your septic system or need to schedule routine maintenance, call us at (256) 435-1086 to schedule your service.