How Often Should I Pump my Septic Tank?
- Kathy in Chino Valley
Kathy, pumping depends on how many people live in the house, the size of the tank and what is being disposed of into the tank. A garbage disposal for instance can put food scraps into the tank that will not break down and will interfere with the normal bacterial process. Any chemicals, such as nail polish, bleach, paint, cooking oil and grease, flushing non-biodegradable hygiene products will rapidly fill or clog a system. Roots from trees and shrubs growing near a tank can clog or rupture the lines. Excessive water entering the system, such a plumbing leaks or over usage of water will overload the tank. etc will kill off the bacteria inside the tank and again will interfere with the normal process of breaking down solids. For a typical home with four people, no garbage disposal and a 1,000 tank, the recommended time frame to pump is every 2.5 to 3 years. Tank pumping depends on the volume of the tank relative to the input of solids. There really is no rule of thumb of how often tanks should be pumped. An older system with an undersized tank that is being used by a large family will require more pumping than a new system that is sized properly and being used by just a few family members. Another key to pumping is if the system is odor free, then it is operating normally. Waste that is not decomposed by the anaerobic digestion eventually has to be removed from the septic tank, or else the tank fills up and the undecomposed wastewater discharges directly to the drainage field. Not only is this bad for our environment, but if the sludge overflows the septic tank into the leach field, a clog can occur and again, expensive repairs are a possibility.
One other thought about septic tanks, please do not use additives. Almost all additives are harmful to the environment and they do not really break down the fats and solids, they just allow smaller particles to pass through the filter and they bond together in the leach field, forming the dreaded word "bio-mat”.