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How Often Should I Pump Out My Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are an important part of some residential sewage systems. These tanks are usually constructed from concrete or plastic and collect sewage and wastewater from the house. Septic tanks are usually installed where municipal sewer lines are not available, which means they most often serve rural homeowners or homes that were built before city sewer lines were laid in the area.

Given the fact that septic tanks can hold a finite amount of sewage, it's common for homeowners to ask how often these tanks should be emptied. The answer: It varies.

When should a septic tank be emptied?

As a general rule, you should ideally empty out your septic tank once every three to five years.

However, the actual frequency will vary depending on usage and how many people live in your household. You may need to pump out a tank more frequently in larger households, for instance, while a single person living alone in a house may be able to go ten years without having the tank pumped out but a family of seven might have to pump every two years.

Occasionally pumping out the septic tank is essential for its reliable operation. A septic tank that isn't working can pose problems for any household, such as sewage backing up into household drains or sewage bubbling up from the ground around the septic tank and lateral field.

To avoid expensive repairs and potential health hazards, Roto-Rooter recommends that you examine and make note of your household’s septic tank pumping intervals to help create a pumping schedule going forward. For example, ask yourself how long you waited before previously emptying the system and if that meant you were dealing with overflow problems. You might also talk with your neighbors with similar sized families to get a better sense of how often you should have your septic tank pumped out.

Why does the tank need to be emptied?

Overload is one of the main reasons why septic tanks need to be emptied more frequently. Just because you've never experienced any major problems with the tank doesn't mean you should neglect your responsibility for maintaining it properly.

Emptying a septic tank is important because of the tank's main purpose. By design, heavier substances settle at the bottom and eventually form a sludge layer. If the sludge builds up to higher levels than allowed, more solid substances will make their way into the soil absorption system (lateral field). As lateral field pipes become clogged, liquids are prevented from flowing through and out of the pipes to absorbed into surrounding soil. The final part of this sequence of events involves unsanitary water making its way back to the surface because the septic system has become overloaded. When this occurs, you and your neighbors will smell it before you see it.

Emptying the tank

It's in your best interest to call a professional to pump out the septic tank. They are specifically trained to handle the waste and dispose of it at an approved processing facility.

If you're in need of septic tank pumping services, contact Roto-Rooter today. Many Roto-Rooter locations provide septic tank pumping, installation and repair services but these services are not available from all Roto-Rooter locations.

Septic field

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