How often should you clean your septic tank?

septic system replacement

Keeping Septic System Running

Not every house needs septic tank cleaning and pumping. Where houses in the city have city water and city sewage, houses in rural areas don’t. They are typically on well water, either their own well or a co-op well system, and they have individual septic tanks where their waste goes.   

Where waste going into a city sewer system and into a wastewater plant and is treated, a septic system works by separating the waste into 3 layers. It becomes necessary to have septic tank cleaning for 2 of these 3 layers: 

  • Solids: These settle to the bottom of a tank that is part of the septic system. As they collect there, they decompose with microorganisms.  
  • Effluent: This is the liquid part of the waste and is dispersed through perforated pipes that are connected to the tank and run out through the property as a drainage field.
  • Scum: Fats, greases, and oils create the scum which floats to the of the tank. 

A septic system that is designed and installed properly needs annual septic tank cleaning to remove the scum and sludge from the tank. Septic tank cleaning bacteria action slows down inside the septic tank and keeps it working properly. 

How long does it take for a septic tank to fill up?

Septic tanks typically have a 1,000-gallon capacity. Recommendations by the septic tank industry and regulatory agencies it to have septic tank cleaning performed when the tank is thirty percent filled, approximately 300 gallons.

Based on those numbers, it can take one adult five years to generate that much waste. Septic tank cleaning how often is normally three to five years. If you notice your septic tank if filling faster than the suggested amount and time, you may need to have annual septic tank cleaning.

What are the symptoms of a full septic tank?

Here are some obvious indicators that your septic tank system is not operating correctly, or the tank is full, and where you can look at them. 

  1. Gurgling Sounds in Pipes: If you’re hearing a gurgling sound when the toilet is flushed, or water is running, the tank is reaching capacity and it is time to call a professional septic tank cleaning service.
  2. Toilet Flushing Problems: If your toilets are flushing slowly or not at all, and the plunger doesn’t help, it could be a clogged pipe, or the tank has reached capacity. Call a professional septic tank cleaning service.
  3. Drains are Slow: If one or all of the sinks, showers, or tubs are slow, it could be the pipes, which requires a professional plumber. If the plumber doesn’t find any issues, then you’ll need a septic tank cleaning professional to check the tank and lines.
  4. Backed Up Water: When you run the washing machine and the water is backing up in the sink or tub, or anywhere in the house, this is a definite sign your septic system is failing, and only an experienced septic tank cleaning can help.
  5. Bad, Constant, Strong Odors: One sure way to know your septic tank is not working right is the smell of rotten eggs on a hot summer day. This is an odor similar to toxic sulfur, and if it is stronger closer to the tank, then your sewage is leaking. This definitely requires the service of an experienced septic tank cleaning service.
  6. Grass is Greener Around the Tank: One of the first things that will tell you that your septic leach field isn’t working properly is green, green grass around where the tank is buried.  While the grass may get extra fertilizer and look good, your septic system isn’t working right and needs to be serviced by a professional septic tank cleaning contractor.
  7. Standing Water: If you must walk around puddles and standing water near the septic drain field, you may have a serious problem with your septic system and the sooner you get a professional septic tank cleaning, the better. 

What happens if you don’t pump your septic tank? 

Sludge results from your paper and waste entering the septic tank from your house. The liquids absorb into the ground. The sludge doesn’t build up overnight; it takes some time, but when it does, and you don’t have the tank pumped, you risk the septic system reaching capacity and backing up into the house and the yard. 

Will a flooded septic tank fix itself?

 Flooding from rain doesn’t damage a septic tank because they are buried below ground. If the pump chambers fill with debris and silt, you need to call a professional septic tank cleaning service. If left unaddressed, and the soil absorption field becomes clogged, a new septic system is required. This is one reason why it is necessary to have the septic system cleaned every 2 to 5 years. 

septic system surrounded by grass

How do I keep my septic system healthy?

Four steps will keep your septic system working properly: 

  • Frequent Inspection
  • Efficient Water Use
  • Properly Waste Disposal
  • Drainfield Maintenance

It may be out of sight and out of mind until something goes wrong. A septic tank system can work and the city sewer system, it just requires homeowner maintenance instead of the city crew maintenance.  If you do have a problem, calling a professional septic tank cleaning service is the best way to get it fixed and get things flowing again.

Need septic services in Hendersonville, Mills River and Asheville, NC? Call All About Plumbing & Septic today at 828-778-2425 for your plumbing needs.