Septic tank pumping & cleaning septic tanks

what to do after having septic tank pumped

Pumping out a septic tank is not something that homeowners look forward to, but it is a necessary part of owning a septic system. How often you pump your septic tank will depend on how you maintain your septic tank and the size of your house vs size of your septic tank(s).

What does it mean to have your septic cleaned and tank pumped?

Septic tank cleaning involves pumping waste from your septic tank into a septic pumping truck ensuring it is completely emptied of its solid and liquid contents. Regularly septic tank pumping will help to avoid excess sludge and scum build-up to make space available for decantation. It's also beneficial in the removal of inorganic waste that can't be broken down by bacteria, this can be done with a septic tank sludge dissolver treatment. In many US states or counties, it is mandatory to pump your septic tank every couple of years. The exact number of years will depend on your state or county.

The best way to save money on septic system pumping

Pumping a septic system is a necessity to ensure that solid waste especially is removed. If solids, grease or scum from your primary tank build up too much they can make their way to your drain field, clogging drain lines and costing a lot of money.

The way that many homeowners are saving the money that would usually be allocated to septic tank pumping cost is by adding a maintenance tablet once a month. Also known as a septic tank treatment, it increases the oxygen and bacteria in the tank so they do the work reducing the organic solids and scum. One of the most popular septic tank treatments costs less than $9 per month and you just flush the tablets down your toilet once a month and forget about it. You will still need to have your traditional septic system inspected to ensure the solid and liquid waste are at the correct levels. The good thing for septic systems is inspection is much cheaper than having your septic pumped.

What you should expect & how is a septic tank pumped

  1. Welcome & consult homeowner - The septic tank pumping professional should consult with the homeowner if they are home. This is to find out if there are any maintenance issues or if are they having issues that need to deal with.

  2. Locate the septic tank - If you haven't dug up your manhole cover then the professional will likely use a thing called the prod to poke the soil to find the tank under the ground. They will rod the sides and mark the perimeter of it, to know where the lid will be. Now that we've located the tank. It's time to dig up the sod just so we can get to the access point of the SEP tank to the lid.

  3. Remove the manhole cover/ lid - Now that they have found the tank and dug the lid up, it's time to remove the lids so they can access it to clean the septic tank out. 

  4. Cleaning - During the clean-out process, they will remove (suck) all solids, sludge, scum and wastewater in the tank. The septic tank truck operator will use a very large hose to suck everything out of the tank. Everything gets removed completely so the tank is empty when they have finished.

  5. Check components - Depending on the service offered, they would next check the components of the tank, make sure that there is no damage to the outlet pipe, effluent filter and the components are in place and working correctly to keep any sludge from exiting the tank into the leach field and causing damage to your drain lines. 

  6. Clean up - Once the waste has been removed it is time for the professional to replace his/ her equipment back on the pump truck and replace the manhole cover(s) and replace any soil and grass that was dug up.

How much does septic tank pumping cost?

The septic tank pumping cost will depend on the state you live in and the size of your septic tank. We have found that most companies charge between $.20 to $.60 per gallon. The larger your tank usually the lower cost per gallon it will be. To get a quote for your septic tank, fill in your details below to get an accurate quote now.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Pumping a Septic Tank?

  1. Septic tank treatment - If you use a septic tank treatment like a monthly tablet you should need to pump your septic tank less often as the sludge and scum levels as well as the solids in the tank will be actively broken down and remain at lower levels.

  2. Locating/ digging up septic lid - If you can locate your septic tank lid yourself, that is the best option, otherwise, if the septic professional has to locate your septic tank and dig up the access point, they will usually charge an additional fee. This we have found ranges from $20-$60 depending on the company. To save yourself this fee each time you can install an access cover so it is accessible from above ground, or you can locate and dig up the access point so it is ready for the pump truck driver.

  3. Tank size - The size of your septic tank or septic tanks will directly impact the price you will pay to have your septic tank pumped. To get an accurate septic tank pumping quote, make sure you know the size of your septic tank. If you have two septic tanks, have handy the size of both tanks.

  4. Usage - While the usage or how full your septic tank is will not directly affect the cost of a single septic tank pumping costs, it will mean that you will need to have your septic tank regularly pumped, meaning your septic tank pumping costs overall will increase.

  5. Blockages - If you get a blockage in your main sewer line or outlet pipe or filter you will most likely have your septic tank overflowing or sewage backup into the house drains or toilets. This will result in your septic system needing to be cleaned and a septic pumping cost as well. Blockages are usually due to what you put down your toilet, drains or sink. Using the correct toilet paper is a must with a septic tank. While you can operate a garbage disposal in your kitchen (see article on garbage disposals with septic tanks), this will lead to more solid sludge and will fill a septic tank quicker. Other problem items that could lead to blockages are vacuum equipment, nappies, paper towels and the incorrect household cleaners used.

Tips for maintaining septic tank

There are a number of proactive steps a homeowner can take to extend the life of their septic tank and ensure less frequent pumping. The goal with maintaining your septic tank is to ensure that it functions optimally witin the septic tanks range of operation.

  1. Give your system a helping hand - sometimes no matter how hard you try your tank gets too acidic or too much anaerobic bacteria due to a lack of oxygen and so on. Using a septic tank treatment each month by flushing a tiny tablet down your toilet is a great start for most septic systems to operate effectively with scum and sludge levels naturally reduced.

  2. Reduce water usage - Too much wastewater entering your tank at one time or over a month can overload your septic tank. It can also lead to solid wast, liquid waste and floating scum being forced into the drain field causing a blockage. To avoid sudden increases in the liquids flow through the inlet pipe ensure that washing machine loads are not done back to back or when for example someone is having a shower. Installing high efficiency toilets and water efficient washing machines will ensure too much wastewater is not entering your tank.

  3. Reducing solid waste - Being aware of the amount of solid waste entering the system is an important precautionary measure. Solid waste can be human waste, organic waste from garbage disposal or other trash that makes its way into the system where sludge builds up. It is important that you don't flush items other than toilet paper down your toilet. A sign above the toilet saying just this will help remind visitors without most homeowners needing to have that chat with them.

  4. Channel groundwater away from the drain field - If you are installing a new drain field then you will be able to have your drain field prepared so that water runs away from your drainage field. This will ensure that the ground dedicated to leaching wastewater is not clogged up with downspouts or groundwater supplies.

  5. Drain hot tubs and pools into the yard - Draining swimming pools, hot tubs or baths down the drain and into the tank is how much wastewater can overwhelm your tank and drainage field. The septic tank can only process a certain amount of water. Ensure that your swimming pool backwashes into the yard and the hot tub is drained into the yard (but away from your leach field).

  6. Never put chemicals down the drain - The environment of the bacteria in a septic tank is a fine balance. Most chemicals will interfere with this fine balance and can lead to a failure in small and larger tanks. Give your tank a break when it comes to chemical cleaners, oils, petrol etc.

Frequently asked questions

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