While a septic system is a very efficient system for getting rid of waste, it isn't perfect. Every few years, you are simply going to have the tank pumped to keep the system functioning properly. Knowing when to have a professional come out, inspect and pump the tank will keep you from wasting money on either unnecessary pumping or system repairs.
According To the Pumping Schedule
Depending on the size of your tank and how many people live in the home, there is a standard pumping schedule. As the system ages, it will require additional pumping to keep the levels in the tank at the correct amounts. Keep in mind that if you have the tank pumped for another reason, you can reset the time before the next standard pumping.
Whenever You Are Going to Have a Large Number of Guests
Because the frequency of pumpings relies partially on the number of people living in the home, any time you have extra people in your home it is going to put additional strain on the system. While occasional extra use is to be expected, a large gathering is another story. Rather than risking an overflow, have your septic system pumped before the event so that it can easily handle the excess usage. This is especially important if your septic tank is nearing its regular maintenance, as it will be less able to handle the additional load when it is near capacity.
Any Time Your System Is Having Problems
If sewage is backing up into the house or you are getting puddles in the drain field, you should call in a septic system professional. You can just have the system pumped, but this won't fix the problem for long. Instead, have them pump the system and then inspect it to determine the source of the blockage. If sewage is backing into the house, they will look at the lines that come out from the house. If the tank or the house has settled, the difference in heights could cause a break in the line. Alternatively, tree roots could have broken into the pipes and caused a clog.
If the septic field is having problems, you could be in for a serious repair. This usually indicates that either the lines are clogged do to poor maintenance of the system, or it is simply nearing the end of its life. Either way, the repair professional will likely have to dig out a large area of your yard and replace the pipes. That is, if they don't need to rebuild the entire system from the ground up.
Before You Sell Your House
It is customary to pump the septic tank before selling a home. That way the new homeowner has a fresh start on the septic pumping schedule. However, if you do this, make sure to have the system independently inspected before have the tank pumped. These inspections are only valid if the tests are done on a full tank. If you pump the tank before it is inspected, the tests will always come up clean, even if there is a serious issue with the tank. Pumping first could open you up to liability down the road if it turns out the tank was in poor condition at the time of sale.
While having a septic system means that you don't have to pay for a sewage bill every month, it doesn't free you from maintenance completely. You must have your tank pumped according to the schedule your home falls into, as well as before any major events for you or your home. Don't just pump your tank and look the other way when there is a problem either, this will only take a bad situation and make it much, much worse.Share