Septic Tank Maintenance

Septic Tank Maintenance

All wastewater in a home flows into the septic tank. Heavy solids settle to the bottom (forming a sludge layer) and lighter fats and greases float to the top (forming a scum layer).

Pumping and cleaning are the main maintenance tasks required for septic tanks. Have a professional inspect and pump the tank when necessary. Minimize garbage disposal use and avoid putting in latex paint waste, which can clog the drain field.


Septic tank pumping is a critical part of septic system maintenance. The waste that goes into the septic tank is treated by bacteria and breaks down into liquids. The liquids flow into the drain field and are absorbed into the ground. However, the solid waste remains in the septic tank. This needs to be pumped out periodically so that it does not flow back into the house or pollute the groundwater.

The frequency of septic tank pumping depends on the size of the septic tank, its age and the number of people in the household. A larger septic tank will need to be pumped more often than a smaller one. It also depends on how many people are in the home and how much they use the septic tank. The more people in the home, the higher the usage and the faster the septic tank will need to be emptied.

When it comes to septic tank pumping, hiring a professional is the best option. A septic pro will come in with a large truck and a big tank that is attached to a suction hose. The septic pro will use the hose to literally suck out the sewage from your septic tank and transport it to a sewage treatment plant where it will be processed. This process is quick and efficient.

While septic tank pumping is happening, the septic pro will look inside of the septic tank for signs of physical damage. They will check the condition of the baffles, outlets and filters. They will also look for cracks and other issues that could cause problems with the septic tank or drain field.

The septic pro will also check the levels of water, scum and sludge in the septic tank. In general, septic tanks need to be pumped when the sludge level is within 6 inches of the bottom of the tank and the scum layer is 6 inches thick or more. It is recommended that you purchase a septic tank sludge level measuring stick so that you can monitor the thickness of these layers yourself.


Septic tanks are large containers that are buried underground and are used to treat wastewater that drains out from a home. Over time, sludge and scum layers will build up inside the tank. These layers need to be pumped out on a regular basis in order for the system to function properly.

In addition to pumping, cleaning is an important part of Septic Tank Maintenance. During the cleaning process, liquid waste is pumped out of the tank and solids are removed from the top layer. Ideally, these solids should be broken down by bacteria in the drain-field area rather than pushed further into the septic system, which can clog and overtax the system.

Cleaning is usually performed by a professional service, although some homeowners choose to do it themselves. In either case, the service should include a thorough cleanout of the baffles in the tank, which are designed to trap floating solids and prevent them from entering the drain-field area. During the cleaning process, the service technician should also look for cracks in the tank, which should be repaired immediately.

In between cleanings, there are a few things that can be done to help extend the life of a septic system. For example, homeowners should limit the amount of laundry they do in a day and spread out water usage throughout the week to avoid overloading the septic system. Likewise, non-biodegradable waste should be avoided at all costs. Items like cigarette butts, cotton swabs, and menstrual hygiene products should not be flushed down the toilet, and cleaning supplies should contain no bleach or chemical drain openers.

Lastly, it’s essential to use water efficiently and fix household leaks. Using less water will help the septic system operate better and extend its lifespan.

The location of a septic tank is usually not visible and may require a few steps to find. Depending on the design of your house, it may be located in a crawl space or underneath a foundation. Alternatively, it may be located on the property’s roof, where a plumbing vent sticks out from the side of the house. Once the tank has been found, it should be labeled to make future inspections easier.


A full septic system inspection is necessary every three to five years. During this time, inspectors will look at everything from the outside of the tank to the inside. They’ll remove the lid and check the water level to make sure that it isn’t overflowing or showing signs of a leak. They’ll also flush toilets and run water in the home to ensure that wastewater is flowing properly from the house into the septic tank and that it is able to handle it well enough.

The inspector will also take a look at the drain field and see how it’s doing. For instance, if the drain field is standing water or if it has puddles around the edges of it, that indicates an issue with the septic tank’s wastewater flow and may require a replacement.

Another thing the inspector will look for is any cracks in the tank. He or she will use a metal probe to locate the corners of the septic tank (they usually don’t enter the tank because it is dirty and dangerous) and then dig over where they assume the lids might be. Some tanks have oversized concrete lids that are known as coffin lids and can be quite heavy. In those cases, special tools are required to tease them open.

In addition, the inspector will check the drainage field for clogs, breaks or any other problems that aren’t evident from a visual inspection. He or she will also look at the distribution box, or D-box, which is a component that allows even distribution of the wastewater from the septic tank to the drain field lines. In this case, the inspector will be looking for faulty outlets that restrict the flow of wastewater, structural integrity, wetness and sinkholes around the D-box, and any other issues.

Getting a septic system inspection and pumping done regularly is a must for homeowners who want to avoid expensive repairs in the future. It’s also a good idea for prospective buyers to get an inspection before making a purchase to know what kind of condition the septic tank and drain field are in.


If you notice that your sinks and bathtubs drain a little slower than usual, it could be an indication that your septic system needs to be inspected. Slow draining can be caused by clogs in the house plumbing, but it could also indicate that a tank baffle isn’t functioning correctly or that the tank is full.

When a septic system isn’t functioning properly, it can cause wastewater to leak into the surrounding soil and surface water. This can lead to health problems, including typhoid fever, hepatitis and dysentery. The contaminated wastewater can also leach into the groundwater, causing problems for plants and animals that drink it.

It’s important to have a professional inspect your septic tank and system at least once every five years. The professional will remove the septic tank cover and check its contents to see how much sludge has built up. If the sludge level gets too close to the outlet pipe, it’s time to get the tank pumped.

The inspector will also look for any cracks or other signs of damage to the septic tank, access ports and lid. He will also lift the septic tank cover to inspect the interior of the tank. A septic system contains toxic waste, and it must be treated with great care. A trained and experienced septic tank repair specialist can ensure that the job is done safely and correctly.

In addition to checking the septic tank, a professional can inspect the entire system, including the septic tank drain field and the leach field. A good septic system is designed to last for at least 15 years, but regular maintenance and inspections can extend its lifespan by several years.

To prevent costly repairs, make sure to have your septic system professionally cleaned, inspected and pumped regularly. It is also important to maintain adequate grass coverage over the septic tank and drainfield, keep deep-rooted shrubs and trees away from the septic tank and drainfield, and avoid dumping fats, oils, greases, non-biodegradable products, cleaning chemicals and excessive toilet paper down the drains. Also, have your septic tank inspected before buying or selling your home.

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