Depending on the size of a home and the number of occupants, a septic tank should be pumped every 1-3 years. Several factors contribute to requiring more frequent cleanings, such as having a garbage disposal (which we adamantly advise against), the age and design of the septic system, and the type and amount of solids being flushed into the system. While the State of Ohio does not have set requirements for how frequently a septic tank should be pumped, septic owners are required to maintain a regular service schedule with an approved septic provider. During these service visits, the technician will determine whether a tank pumping is called for, but your septic system may give you indications that it is due for a cleaning before then. Here’s how you can tell if it’s time and how you can prepare for your septic tank pumping.
Telltale Signs Your Septic Tank Needs to Be Pumped
An overfull septic tank can spell disaster for your septic system. You want to be sure you are keeping an eye out for the telltale signs your septic tank needs to be pumped rather than assuming it can wait until your next service visit.
One of the most concerning indicators that your septic tank is in need of an immediate pumping is slow or gurgling drains. While there may be other reasons for gurgling drains, this is the most common and, if left unaddressed, often precedes sewage backing up into your house. Similarly, if you notice septic odors inside your home, a common reason is because your tank has exceeded capacity and needs to be serviced. Like gurgling drains, these odors are often the first warning sign that a sewage backup is imminent. If you notice any of these warning signs, you need to immediately stop all water usage and schedule an emergency service visit. An overfull tank indicates that there is a problem with the tank caused either by a failed pump or issues within the secondary treatment (typically the drainfield).
Ignoring these signs could lead to sewage backing up into your home, which often occurs in the lowest drains first, such as those located in the basement. If you notice any of these signs, it is time to call your septic provider and begin preparing to have your septic tank pumped.
Location! Location! Location of Your Septic Components!
One of the best ways to prepare to have your septic tank pumped is in locating all of the components of your septic system. Older systems are often buried completely underground, so getting a clear sense of where the tank is will prove immensely helpful once the technician arrives. We recommend septic owners have a map of the layout of the entire septic system, including the tank, pipes, and drainfield. This is important not only for service visits, but also for ensuring you do not do any landscaping or drive heavy machinery near or over the septic system. In addition to a map of your septic system, we also recommend homeowners keep a complete history of their system, including service visits and any repairs that have been completed.
Preparing for Your Septic Tank Pumping
In order to prepare for your septic pumping, it is important that you clear away any debris that may be surrounding your septic system. During a cleaning, the cover of the tank will be removed so the technician can assess the tank and pump the contents out. Any yard debris that falls into the tank during this process can catastrophically damage your septic components. Particularly in spring, which is often a time when septic systems need extra attention, it is important to pick up any leaves or twigs that may have fallen during heavy storms.
Mulch is particularly harmful for septic systems, and many homeowners make the mistake of laying mulch around or near the septic system. Be sure mulch has been cleared away from the area surrounding the septic system. When landscaping around your septic tank, we always recommend using stones as a septic-safe alternative to mulch.
Have you noticed any of the telltale signs it’s time to have your septic tank pumped? Contact us today to schedule a service visit!