Pumping Septic Tank

Submitted By
bbeadel
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Plumbing
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0 expert, 1 community
Q:

A few minutes ago someone called in to ask about pumping his septic tank, that he had been told it should be pumped every 4 years, then someone else said every 2 years. Don't remember where he was located, but we're in central Texas, and in 35 years we've needed to pump our septic tank only one time. We have three bathrooms and the usual dishwasher and disposer in the kitchen, as well as a washing machine, etc.

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We own a plumbing & septic company and deal with our local health department and septic tanks on daily basis. All the regulations and specifics of tanks vary per region however, the one universal thing across the world is that tank needs pumped on a regular basis. My health department likes it done every 4-5 years, but the pumping frequency is based off factors, not really a blanket time frame. There are these charts (there's one in my pamphlet on my website - http://jjsrooter.com/Septic%20Tank%20Pamphlet.pdf) that tell you how often your tank should be pumped based off the size of the tank and number of people living in the house. 4 to 5 years is a good average, but some tanks are ready much earlier and others can go longer. 

I'm a little like a doctor in the sense that I see everything that can go wrong so frequently that sometimes I harp on things that homeowners think are silly or  just ploys to get more money, but there are those cases all the time that the homeowner really wished they'd listened. Honestly, we've opened up tanks that haven't been opened or pumped in 30 years and they are VERY due as far as scum mat, but the tank and system is in good shape. But, on the flip side we've opened up tanks that we're installed 5-10 years earlier and were never touched again and they have been so corroded and broken up due to neglect that they were beyond repair. In those cases sometimes just a new tank can be installed [usually 5-10k], but sometimes the system is so bad that they have to replace the whole thing [usually 8-15k+]. Normally, in both cases those are the exceptions not the rules.

I would always ask a doctor what they would do if  they gave me a serious prognosis, so I'll tell you what I would do. Septic systems get a bad rap and people think they are outdated, but they are a really great system. If I were buying a house today, I would prefer one with a septic system as opposed to a home hooked up to city sewer. I would also not want to go more than 4 or 5 years without opening up both sides, cleaning it out and checking for the condition its in, especially a two compartment tank. Two compartment tanks are known to plug up the baffle (the partition in the center). The outgoing side then seals up with toxic sewer gases and that whole side of the tank starts to disintegrate; it's pretty ugly and you would never see signs of that without opening it up and pumping it. You can refer to the pamphlet and go to the regular septic section on my site: http://jjsrooter.com/Septic%20Tank%20Care.html . Obviously I'm not a service provider for your area and regionally things are different in Nevada, but feel free to ask if you have more questions. 

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