How do I know when my septic tank needs cleaning?

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How would I know if my septic tank needs cleaning? Are there signs or symptoms I should look for?



Answer ( 1 )

  1. All septic tanks are different mainly because of the size and how many people are in the house that use the system. Over time sludge builds up on the bottom of the first compartment of the septic tank. This sludge is from organic matter that just takes an exceptionally long period of time to break down.

    As a rule of thumb you should have your septic tank pumped out once every three years. If you leave it for longer than that your septic system may start to not work as it was designed. You should have your septic tank pumped out in the early spring to allow it time to build up the bacteria count that is needed to keep a septic system warm to work properly throughout the winter and prevent freezing. If this is not possible and your septic tank needs to be pumped out in the colder months of the year it is recommended to have a starter bacteria introduced right after you pump out the tank. We recommend a product called bio smart.

    When it comes to inspecting a septic tank there are a couple things you can do but it is hard to do a thorough inspection without sucking the tank out completely and pulling out the pump. One thing a homeowner can do though is take the lid off the septic tank and inspect the inside. First look at the divider wall between the two compartments. The divider wall is usually made of concrete and should look in good condition. If the wall looks like it is starting to deteriorate and crumbling, this is a sign of future problems. If the wall has completely broken down the septic tank needs to be replaced immediately to prevent further damage to the system.

    To determine if the tank needs to be sucked out, take a long pole or ridged piece of pipe and put it down the side of the compartment that is closer to the house. This compartment or side of the tank should be the fuller one. Push the pole all the way to the bottom of the tank. Once you know how deep the tank is bring the pole back up to the top of where the liquid starts. Slowly put the pole back down and feel for where it starts to have resistance. This will be where the sludge at the bottom of the tank starts. The most sludge there should ever be is about 1/3 of the compartment. If it is over 1/3 it is time to suck out the tank.

    Some things to note. You should never ever go down into a septic tank as there can be deadly gases accumulating in it. If you attempt either of these jobs it is also highly recommended to have a nose plug and it is not for the person with a weak stomach!
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