How Septic Tank Pumping Works

May 4, 2016

When last did you schedule a septic tank pumping? If it’s been awhile- we wouldn’t be surprised. As the old saying goes – out of sight, out of mind.
If your septic tank hasn’t been cleaned in the last 5 years, you are seeing wet areas or standing water above your drainfield /leach field, if your toilets are running slowly, or there are unpleasant odors in your home, you may need to have your septic system pumped.

How a Septic Tank Works

Not many people know exactly how their septic system works. Understanding your septic system is key to keeping it in working order, so allow us to explain the process in an easy to understand way.

So, when waste water enters your septic tank, it naturally divides into three parts:

Solids sink to the bottom and form a sludge layer.

Liquids stay in the middle and form a layer of mostly water.

Oils and fat rise to the top and form a scum layer.

The liquid layer accounts for 90 percent of your tank’s capacity, meaning too much water use can affect the tank’s performance over time.

Ideally, water in your septic tank flows through in the course of several days while materials on the bottom are broken down by bacteria. Water is then carried through drain pipes to the drainage (or leach) field, where it is distributed into the soil. The size of your drainage field depends on the type of soil. Clay, for instance, holds a limited amount of water.

Septic Tank Pumping

The sludge at your tank’s bottom requires periodic septic tank pumping. Even the best bacteria can’t fully break down all organic material, meaning it will start to build up and take more of the tank’s space. If there’s not enough room for water, the sludge will start to back up into leach field, your home’s pipes or may cause a tank failure.

In normal conditions, your septic tank should be pumped every one to three years, depending on the size of the tank and the number of people in your home. If pumping is done in a timely manner, it is likely that you will save yourself the cost of repairing or replacing your septic tank over time. While it is possible for a homeowner to pump his or her own septic tank, it may not be the best option. Sludge pumped out of the tank must be stored for transport in appropriate containers and disposed of following important safety procedures.

In most cases, homeowners find it easier and more cost-effective to have septic tank pumping done by a professional who has the right tools and storage equipment to handle sludge and scum safely for disposal. Bishop Thiem Septic is fully equipped to service all your septic tank pumping needs and would be happy to come up with a fantastic septic system maintenance plan for you, just give us a call.


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