Q: When do I need to pump out my septic tank?
A: There are several factors that determine the tank-pumping frequency: the tank's size, the number of people living in the house, whether a garbage disposal is used, and how often laundry is done. For an average single family home, it is recommended for the tank to be pumped every two to three years. Depending on the factors discussed above, it may need to be done more or less frequently. A safe approach is to have the tank inspected yearly until it is determined that pumping is required (when the accumulated solids are less than 25% of the volume in the tank). Once the pumping interval is established, you can follow that until there is a change in water-use patterns that would require the tank to be pumped more or less frequently.
Q: Why so frequent?
A: The inorganic fraction of the sludge is not biodegradable and builds up. The higher it gets the more likely it can overflow into the drain field and the less volume of supernatant can be properly treated for discharge to the drain field. Improperly maintained systems will pollute groundwater and lead to premature failure.
Q: What is biological remediation?
A: The introduction of aerobic and/or other bacteria directly to the drainfield which breaks down the bio-mat (film which reduces absorption) and rejuvenates.
Q: Are the cleaners and household chemicals really harmful to the performance of my septic system?
A: Anti-bacterial cleaners, grease cutting soaps, paint thinner, disinfectants, sterilizing or sanitizing agents, anti-septic mouthwash, antibiotic medicines (just to name a few) all kill the necessary bacteria of which your system relies on for the proper decomposition and treatment of septage.
Q: Should I use additives in my septic system?
A: A properly functioning system does not need additives, however, if you use any of the above mentioned items that kill beneficial bacteria, it is recommended to introduce live aerobic, facultative, or anaerobic bacteria to properly break down solids in your system. However, the non-organics will still settle to the bottom of the tank and there is no additive which is capable of eliminating these solids to the point where cleaning is unnecessary. Only pumping of the tank can properly remove the solids.
Q: What else besides pumping can I do to extend the life of my septic system?
1) Proper maintenance starts with regular pumping and inspections of your tank. Many problems will be revealed here first and with these indicators you can take proper steps to avoid costly repairs.
2) Knowing where the system is located is a simple way to keep traffic and inappropriate activity and vegetation from damaging expensive components.
3) Fix all leaking plumbing fixtures, use low consumption fixtures, and remove water treatment discharge to avoid hydrolic over loading beyond design capacity. Do not flush chemicals, grease/fat, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes or anything else not intended for septic systems. Avoid the "flush it and forget it" philosophy.