If you ask a septic professional how often you should pump your tank, you will get either a short or long answer. The short answer is “it depends” while the longer one will most likely include a long list of variables. Here are some factors that will affect how often you need septic tank pumping:

Tank size. Your septic tank was designed for the size of your home, usually based on the number of bedrooms in the house. The bigger the tank, the less often it will need to be pumped.

Household members. The tank size versus the number of people in your household will influence how often you need to have a pumping service. A big house with only 2-3 people may be able to go three years or more without pumping. A 2-bedroom home with four adults living in it may need septic tank pumping every year.

Special events. Big parties or guests through the holidays can impact how often you need your tank emptied.

Age of the system. An older septic system may not be as efficient, requiring more frequent septic tank pumping.

Garbage disposal. If you use a garbage disposal in your home, it can increase the solid waste in your tank. Consider composting or other options if you want to reduce solid waste.

Vacations and other homes. If you take frequent trips or vacations, you may not need to have your tank pumped as often.

There is not a simple answer to how often you will need your septic tank pumped; it can change as your life changes. The best way to stay on top of your pumping schedule is to have your tank and system inspected by a septic professional annually.

If you have a septic system, there is a good chance you have heard that certain items should not be put down your drains. Clients routinely ask, are all products safe for my septic system? Keeping plastic, cotton and other non-biodegradable items out of your septic tank is important to reduce the possibility of clogging your septic filter and to reduce the frequency of septic tank pumping. However, even the items you use every day in your showers, sinks and toilets should be tailored to your septic system. Here is what ‘septic safe’ products are and why you should use them.

Toilet Paper

One of the main products you use every day that ends up in your septic system is toilet paper. Not all toilet paper is made the same and some brands do not break down as easily. Choose toilet paper that specifically says it is ‘septic safe’ or designed for septic systems.

Household Cleaners

You may not want bacteria in your home, but you do want them to thrive in your septic tank. Bacteria are what breakdown your solid waste and allow it to become effluent that is filtered back into the ground. Certain cleaners can kill bacteria, harming the bacterial balance in your septic tank.

However, you can still have a clean home and protect your septic system. There are many septic-safe products for cleaning, from soaps and detergents to toilet cleaners and dish soaps. Many use natural ingredients that are effective for cleaning but won’t harm the bacteria in your septic tank.

Drain Cleaners

Too much bleach or even small amounts of drain cleaners can be harmful to your septic system. There are drain cleaners or clog removers that do not use chemicals and are considered septic-safe, which are a better choice if you must use a liquid clog remover.

Using septic-safe products can help protect your septic system. When combined with regular service and pumping from your septic professional, these products can help extend the life of your septic system for many years.

One thing a homeowner doesn’t want to deal with is a broken sewer line, but it does happen, and when it happens, clients often ask us what to do with a broken sewer line. Sewer lines can last for decades without any issues, but even these durable pipes can eventually break. Tree roots, corrosion, pressure from vehicles/heavy equipment and other factors can cause a broken sewer pipe in your yard. When it does happen, knowing how to handle the situation can reduce the stress and cost of the repair.

Recognizing a Broken Sewer Line

First, you need to know how to quickly identify that you may have a sewer line problem. Most sewer lines are under the ground, so you may not know one is broken right away. Some signs you may have a broken sewer pipe include:

  • Wet spots in your yard
  • Bad odor outside your home
  • Backed-up drains in your home

If you notice any of these issues, it is time to act. Stop using your plumbing immediately and call your local sewer service company. If there is a sewer backup into your home, you may want to have any children or pets stay elsewhere until the issue can be resolved. Sewer backups contain dangerous bacteria and toxins that you do not want anyone exposed to, especially kids or pets. The mess will need to be cleaned up and the area disinfected before you bring your family back home.

The one thing you should not do is ignore a possible sewer line break. Even if the plumbing is working fine, don’t wait for a backup to occur. Call your sewer professional and have your sewer line repaired to limit the damage to your home.

Many clients ask us, “how often do I need to pump my septic tank?” If you own a septic system, regular septic pumping is required to keep your tank from overflowing. A full septic tank can ruin your drain field and backup sewer waste into your home. Pumping your septic tank removes the solid waste that accumulates over time that doesn’t break down into liquid form or effluent. But what about the solid waste that does not leave your tank after a pumping service?

Back flushing a septic tank is essentially a cleaning service for your septic system. Pumping will remove most solids, but some waste can be more difficult to remove. This thick sludge will not easily be pumped out of the tank. If your septic tank is not back flushed after pumping, this dense solid waste will continue to build. This can mean more frequent pumping and could eventually cause harm to your septic system.

To avoid this waste building up on the sides and bottom of your septic tank, a back flushing should be done after each pumping. This can break up those solids and allow them to be effectively pumped from your septic tank. This leaves the tank completely clean and empty, reducing the amount of time needed before your next scheduled tank pumping.

Some septic services may include back flushing with their pumping service, but not all do. Make sure to ask your septic professional before your next scheduled pumping whether back flushing is included in the price or if that is a separate service. It is worth the investment to back flush your tank – it will keep your septic system clean and extend the time before you need another pumping service.

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