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How often should you pump out a septic tank?

Avoid potentially expensive repairs and mitigate health risks

Septic tanks have long been utilised in households located in unsewered areas. Within these areas, they are largely considered to be the most suitable primary form of sewage treatment.

With regard to the maintenance of septic systems, pumping is a fundamental form of ensuring proper working order. Many owners of homes with a septic system aren’t aware of the ideal system pumping frequency, despite this process being essential in avoiding health hazards; sewage exposure can cause diseases as a result of bacterial, viral, and parasitic germs.

The risks of such diseases caused by these hazardous bacteria can be minimised with adequate system management, including septic tank pumping.

The ideal pumping frequency

Pumping out your septic tank is essential for its reliable operation. Failure to do so at a regular enough frequency can lead to a range of problems.  The frequency of a septic tank pump out mainly depends on two factors, the size of the system, and the number of people living in your household.

As a general rule, it is advised that you pump out your septic tank once every 2-5 years.

With regard to the number of people using the system, a guide follows:

  • 1-3 people = pump out frequency of 4-6 years
  • 3-6 people = pump out frequency of 3-5 years
  • 6-10 people = pump out frequency of 2-4 years

If you have any questions concerning septic tank pumping or the impact of your system’s capacity on pumping frequency, contact us today at 1300 722 517 or complete a booking form.

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How do septic tanks work?

Septic tanks function as an onsite sewage facility, treating and disposing of wastewater. When waste passes through septic tanks, heavier solids sink to the bottom to undergo bacterial digestion, ultimately resulting in a matter of material separation; involving the composition of sludge, grease & oil, and effluent.

The former two materials remain in the septic tank, while the effluent flows from the tanks to their respective disposal system, to undergo further treatment processes. While the grease & oil forms a scum-like consistency at the top of the tank, sludge gathers at the bottom. An excess quantity of sludge in the tank will require pumping out.

conventional septic system diagram
Conventional septic system - Image epa.gov

What are the signs that your septic tank isn’t working properly?

Signs of a septic tank not correctly working are:

  • An unusual smell coming from the septic tank, and in its general vicinity
  • Darker, fast-growing grass around the system’s absorption area
  • Wet ground, or the formation of a pool of water
  • Toilets in your household acting slowly to clear, and/or keep backing up

These symptoms of a not-so-well septic tank are more likely to occur if your tank hasn’t been checked for more than 12 months.

The primary cause of septic tank problems is a failure to pump your septic tank on a regular enough basis. In order to prevent the issues that arise from septic tank blockage, contact Express Wastewater at 07 5497 9318 or complete a booking form.

How to maintain a properly-working septic tank

As the cliche so often goes, prevention is the best form of cure. This notion holds consistent with regard to septic tank issues. By conducting regular maintenance on your septic tank system, you can not only save a substantial amount of money; you’ll prolong its lifespan significantly.

Said maintenance generally involves routine inspections to ensure the proper working order and the act of determining the timeline of septic pumping.

Positive habits you can develop with respect to your septic system’s function include:

  • Avoid planting trees near your septic system
  • Not flushing inappropriate items down the toilet (such as hygiene products/other inorganic matter)
  • Not allowing fat or grease into household drains
  • Using a fully-licensed technician in all matters of maintenance
  • When possible, do the full dishwasher and washing machine loads at off-peak times.
  • Regularly checking all plumbing fixtures for leakages
  • Use only septic tank-specific cleaning products

Undertaking proper maintenance of your septic tank system is vital, and should only be performed by a fully-trained wastewater treatment professional. If you have any queries concerning the content on this page, or would like to talk to us about your septic tank maintenance options, get in touch by calling 1300 722 517 or by completing a booking form.