Septic Tank Pumping: How Often Should It Be Done?

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Sewage cleaners (Photo: @photovs via Twenty20)
If your home operates on a septic tank, taking good care of it may not be glamorous but it’s definitely crucial. And one key element of caring for a septic tank is having it pumped now and then. Septic tanks don’t really come with an instruction manual, though. So how are you to know how often you should have it done? Read on to find out.

How often should you pump your septic tank?

There are a lot of factors that come into play when determining how often you should have your septic tank pumped. But in general, you should have it pumped every three to five years. As long as you get your septic tank pumped in that time frame, it should be happy, and you’re unlikely to have any septic catastrophes (which are as bad as they sound).

What factors influence how often you need to pump your septic tank?

Many things influence how often you need to have your septic tank pumped. The most important factor is the size of the tank. Smaller tanks will need to be pumped more frequently.
Which brings us to the next important factor: use. The more people that live in your house and regularly use your septic tank, the more often it will need to be pumped.

Why do you need to pump your septic tank?

Your septic tank holds all the sewage from water systems, including the bathroom. The more you use those systems, the more the tank fills up, until finally it’s full and there’s nowhere left to put it.
When you have your septic tank pumped, the sewage is removed, the tank becomes empty, and you get to start all over again.

How do you know when it’s time to pump your septic tank?

The best way to know when it’s time to pump your septic tank is by asking your plumber. When you have your tank pumped, or installed if you’re getting a new one, ask your plumber how often it should be pumped. They’ll consider the size of the tank, and the size of your household, and let you know how often you should have it emptied out.
Listen to your plumber on this one. Emptying your septic tank is like changing your oil: It’s tempting to put it off because you can’t see it, but the ramifications of doing so can be catastrophic.
You’ll also be able to tell when it’s time to empty your septic tank because you’ll begin to smell it, or you’ll notice plants growing very happily near the tank. In a worst case scenario, you might also notice the tank backing up through your drains.

How much money does it cost to pump your septic tank?

Having a septic tank pumped is a fairly affordable home maintenance activity. The average price is around $400, though it can run you a few hundred more if you have a large tank, or have the tank located in a hard to reach area.