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Signs that Your Septic Tank Needs Pumping

Most homeowners with septic tanks are away that they need regular cleaning, but the question for many is how regular these cleanings should be. If you ask around, you may be told anything from every year to every five years. The reason for the wide range of estimates is that a lot of factors influence how quickly a septic tank starts to fill up with solids. If you can afford it and don’t want to deal with any hassle, you may choose to simply schedule it each year. If you’d rather put it off until it’s necessary, there are signs to look for that will let you know when the time has come.

Toilet Clogs

Sometimes toilets clog because you’ve been flushing too much or have been flushing things you shouldn’t be, but if your toilet begins to get backed up even with the most innocent of flushes, it may be a sign that your septic tank needs cleaning.


It isn’t uncommon that the first signs of a septic tank in need of cleaning aren’t seen, but smelled. With a healthy septic tank, the system should be designed to prevent gross smells from making their ways up pipes and into your home. If you start to smell unusual and unpleasant scents, it is a sign that something is wrong.


If a pool of water has accumulated above the tank lid, your tank is overflowing, and it is time to investigate whether the septic tank needs pumping or if there is a separate issue.

Alert System

Some septic tanks are fitted with an alert system that will notify homeowners when the tank needs pumping. Some are fitted with alarms that will make a high-pitched noise, or sometimes they use a light on the side of the house as an indicator. If your current septic tank doesn’t have an alarm or alert system, it isn’t too difficult or expensive to have one installed.

Other Issues

If any one of these signs starts occurring, or a combination of them, you should check for other possible causes as well. Sometimes these occurrences might be due to a leak or a clog, so check your plumbing for those things first. Otherwise, it is likely that the time has come to call a plumber to come to give your septic tank a good pumping. If none of these signs show up after around five years or so, you may want to have your tank pumped just in case.

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