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How Often Should A Septic Tank Be Pumped?

Jan 9

Finding septic pumping in Charlotte, NC, is an easy task to do. The question is, how frequently they should be pumped. Septic tanks are used in the vast majority of on-lot sewage systems. The frequency with which septic tanks should be pumped has been a point of contention for many years. On the one hand, homeowners claim their septic tank has never been drained and that it "seems" to function well. On the other hand, regulators have taken the conservative approach and stated that all septic tanks should be pumped every three or two years to ensure a uniform pumping program.

What is a Septic Tank, and How Does It Work?

How much solid waste do you produce?

Every day, the average adult consumes around a quart of food. The body removes only a tiny fraction of this food and uses it to keep itself alive. The remainder is excreted into the sewer system. This equates to around 90 gallons of solid waste per adult discharged into the septic tank per year. Assuming that the anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank reduce waste volume by roughly 60%, each adult adds about 60 more gallons of solids to their septic tank each year.

According to regulatory and pumping industry recommendations, the sludge and scum layer in a septic tank should never be allowed to fill more than around 30% of the septic tank's volume. As a result, it will take approximately five years for one adult to fill 300 gallons of sludge and scum in a 1,000-gallon septic tank. A family of four will fill a 1,000-gallon septic tank's 300-gallon storage capacity in around 1.5 years. It is simple to deduce that a septic tank should be pumped every two to three years by adjusting this analysis for adults working outside the home a third of the time and children attending school.

For any reason, never enter a septic tank. Gases that can kill you are present in these tanks.

Sludge and scum will continue to collect in the septic tank as the on-lot wastewater disposal system is employed. Septic tanks that are correctly sized can safely contain up to three years' worth of sludge and scum. As the level of sludge and scum in the tank fills up, the wastewater is held in the tank for less time, and the solids removal process becomes less effective.

If too much sludge builds up, vast amounts of particles from the wastewater will flow to the soil absorption field, causing system failure (particularly in older tanks without exit filters). To avoid this, the tank must be pumped regularly using septage.

Pumping frequency is determined by numerous factors:

  1.       Septic tank capacity
  2.       The amount of wastewater that is added to the septic tank daily
  3.       Solids content in the wastewater stream.


It should be noted that different types of solids are typically disposed of in a septic tank. These include biodegradable "organic" particles like feces that decay slowly in the septic tank and non-biodegradable solids like kitty litter, plastics, and other non-biodegradable solids that do not disintegrate and quickly fill the septic tank. The rate at which solids collect in your septic tank will be considerably reduced if you minimize the amount of slowly biodegradable organics and non-biodegradable trash added to the tank.

Lifestyle is another factor that influences how quickly a septic tank fills with sediments. The following are the two most critical lifestyle concerns that affect septic tank performance:

  •         water use in the home, as well as
  •         the residents' ages

Growing families with children ranging in age from infants to teens consume more water and deposit more sediments in the septic tank. Empty nesters, particularly the elderly, drink significantly less water and deposit less solid waste in septic tanks.

Time is another factor to consider when deciding how often to pump a septic tank. As previously stated, when a septic tank fills with solids, the particles are transferred from the tank to the soil absorption area, particularly in tanks without exit filters. As more materials accumulate in the absorption area, the soil becomes clogged, preventing wastewater from moving into the ground.

Because the soil can no longer absorb the wastewater produced daily, the soil absorption area is choked with nearly impenetrable biomat and overwhelmed with wastewater when sewage backs up into the home. Typically, removing these biomats is both costly and time-consuming. The biomat will not be removed by pumping the septic tank.

Pumping the wastewater ponded in the soil absorption region is required to remove the biomat. Then leave the pump-access hole to the absorption region open for a few days. The biomat typically decomposes once the absorption region is clear of water and aerated in a few days. When the absorption area is pumped, your septic tank should be flushed, allowing the absorption area to generate more aerated conditions.

An on-site wastewater system includes more than just a septic tank. Its purpose is to remove solids from the effluent before it reaches the soil absorption area, allow for the digestion of a portion of those materials, and store the remainder. No biological or chemical additions are required to facilitate or expedite decomposition. Garbage grinders increase the number of solids in the system. Solids must be removed regularly to avoid solids from entering the soil absorption region. Your septic tank should be pumped and examined every two to three years.

As mentioned above, Finding a septic pumping company in Charlotte, NC, is an easy task to do. All you need is someone you can rely on and who will give the best services when you need one, just like HoneyBee Septic Tank Service. Call us today for your septic tank pumping!