Are you a new homeowner or simply new to owning a septic tank? It’s definitely a new learning curve that will have you thinking a lot more about what goes down your drain. Let’s dispel a little of the new-owner worry by taking a quick look at what you can expect to happen during a septic tank pumping.
1) The arrival
When your septic tank pumping expert first gets to your home, he or she will most likely want to consult with you to make sure you haven’t been experiencing any problems with your septic tank.
2) Locating and exposing the tank access lids
Before the tank can be emptied, the septic tank pumping technician will need to locate the tank. Don’t worry if you don’t know where it is; they have tools to help them find it. Your tank access lid may be clearly accessible, or it may be covered by sod.
3) Initial inspection
The septic tank pumping won’t start right away; once the tank access is uncovered and opened, the technician will do a quick inspection to take note of the liquid level of the tank and how that is related to the tank’s outlet pipe. This will help to establish whether you have a problem like a tank leak or a drainpipe or drain field issue.
4) The pumping begins
The technician will place a large vacuum hose into the tank’s manholes to begin the septic tank pumping. The hose is attached to a strong pump on the Honey Wagon (the septic truck). It will continually drain all of the solids and liquids from the tank while a septage spoon and backflushing techniques may be used to loosen and remove any persistent sludge.
5) The inspection continues
As the septic tank pumping is taking place, your technician will be inspecting your tank for signs of trouble. For instance, too heavy or too light backflow as the tank empties may suggest a drain field problem. The technician will also check for signs of structural damage, including holes, cracks, seam leaks, etc.
6) Once emptied, the tank gets cleaned
The technician will follow the septic tank pumping with a quick cleaning by spraying the walls of the tank with clean water. Once finished, the tank is closed back up, the access lid is re-covered, and the technician will inform you of anything observed during the inspection.
Questions you may have about septic tank pumping:
Here are the answers to a few common questions you may have about the septic tank pumping process.
How often do you need to have your tank pumped?
This depends on usage and the number of people in your house. Relax, we don’t just mean the number of flushes (trust me, no one’s judging here); the water that goes down the drain has an impact, too, so if you do a lot of laundry or cooking or just have hard water, that can have an impact on your septic tank, too. On average, you should arrange for septic tank pumping every 1 to 3 years, or when the tank’s total solid accumulation hits 30% – 50% of total capacity.
How long will it take?
Septic tank pumping usually takes 20 – 35 minutes, although this can be slowed down if there is too much accumulation, or if poor flushing decisions or tree roots have led to clogs.
How much will it cost?
This depends on the size and condition of the tank, but you can expect septic tank pumping to cost anywhere from $75 – $300.
Can I do things to reduce pumping frequency?
Make sure you are using water sparingly and only disposing of septic-friendly materials. Avoid flushing things like diapers or baby wipes since they can plug your tank’s hoses. Make sure you aren’t using your in-sink garbage disposal; your septic tank isn’t designed to break down food waste. Try to disperse laundry day over the week, and don’t pour any chemicals down the drain that could corrode pipes or kill the bacteria that help break down waste. Making these adjustments may reduce the required frequency of septic tank pumping, but don’t push this back too far; overloading the tank can have problems and reducing inspections may mean missing warning signs.