How to Prepare for a Septic Tank Cleaning

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Kitchen sink (Photo: @Mehaniq via Twenty20)
As a homeowner, it’s easy to forget that your septic system needs regular maintenance. Septic systems aren’t fun or glamorous, so it’s easy to overlook them, especially when everything seems fine. (Until it doesn’t.)
But like almost every other element of your home, septic systems need to be serviced occasionally. One necessary service is a septic tank cleaning. And there are a few things you should do beforehand to prepare your septic system for it.

Break out the blueprints, if you have them

If you have a blueprint of your home and the septic system, you’ll want to bring it out if you’re getting ready to have your septic tank cleaned. The reason for this is pretty simple: You want to give the plumbers as much information as possible when they arrive. That way they’re better equipped to do their job.
If you can show the plumber exactly where the septic tank is, and offer a diagram of where all the pipes run, they’ll be able to do their job more quickly, more efficiently, more successfully, and often more affordably.

Find the septic tank lid, if you don’t have the blueprints

If you don’t have the blueprints, or a map of your septic system, then try and locate the lid to the septic tank on your own. You might already know where it is from when you purchased the home, or perhaps from the last time you had a plumber out to work on your septic tank. If that’s the case, you’re good to go.
If you don’t know where it is, you should do a little detective work. The septic tank lid is usually located a few feet underground, but you can find it by following the trajectory of where the plumbing leaves the house. Often you might find that the plants in the area where the tank is are growing a little bit more, which is a surefire sign that the tank is nearby. (And possibly leaking.)
Once you’ve located the general area, use a probe bar to reach into the soil and see if you can find the lid of the tank.
This makes life a lot easier for the plumber, as they don’t have to find the septic tank. If you can’t find the tank lid, the plumber can find it for you. However, they’ll likely charge you for that service.

Locate the records of prior service and maintenance, if possible

If you have the records from prior service or septic maintenance, then you should locate them and have them on hand. It can help the plumber if they know what’s been done to the septic tank and system and when it was last serviced. If you don’t have the records for septic maintenance, but remember when it was last serviced, let the plumber know.

Clear the area around the septic field

Before the plumber arrives, be sure to clear all debris from near the septic tank. Everything from loose leaves, to sticks, to household items on the ground should be removed.
The reason for this is simple: When the plumber is cleaning your septic tank, he or she will have the lid off, likely for a while. If anything falls into the tank, or is transported into the tank when the lid is put back on, it could cause damage.