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How Often Does My Septic Tank Need Pumped?

You have a lot going on in your life. Chances are you don’t think about your septic tank every day, and sometimes, it can be easy to let another year pass by without having it pumped out. However, routine cleaning of your tank is the most important thing you can do to maintain the health of your septic system. In fact, you should think of pumping your septic tank in the same way that you think about changing the oil in your car. It is a vital component of preventative maintenance to ensure the proper function and longevity of your septic system. 

When wastewater leaves your house, it enters the septic tank and separates into sludge, scum, and effluent. Heavy solids sink to the bottom forming the sludge layer while light solids float to the top forming the scum layer. The liquid effluent layer in between is ideally free of suspended solids. Your septic tank is designed to trap the sludge and scum solids so that only effluent flows into your drain field. Even with additives, the bacteria in your septic tank cannot completely breakdown all of these solids, and overtime, sludge and scum will accumulate and need to be removed. 

If you don’t have your septic tank pumped out regularly, these solids can build up so much that they clog the inlet line causing raw sewage to back up into your house putting your family’s health at risk. Moreover, accumulated solids will flow into your drain field potentially destroying it and forcing septic to surface in your yard. While it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair or replace a drain field, a properly maintained septic system can last 25 to 30 years or longer. Routine pumping of your septic system is the most cost-effective way to prevent expensive septic system repairs and protect your family from waterborne disease.

As a general rule of thumb, the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA), in combination with Penn State University, recommends that you have a certified pumper clean your septic tank every 2 to 3 years. This recommendation may vary for each household or business based on a handful of variables.

There are four major factors that influence the frequency of septic tank pumping:
  1. Size of septic tank
  2. Number of people living in household
  3. Total wastewater generated
  4. Volume of solids in wastewater
The chart below shows how often you need to get your septic tank pumped based off the number of people living in your household and the size of your septic tank. Regardless of the size of your septic tank or water usage habits, Hapchuk, Inc discourages anyone from waiting more than 5 years between pumpings.

These figures assume that there is no garbage disposal in use at your house. Garbage disposals can increase the amount of solids entering your septic tank by up to 50%. If you use a garbage disposal, more frequent pumping is needed. Frequently doing laundry, hosting large gathers, and performing other habits that increase wastewater production will also increase your required pumping frequency.

Have more questions? The experts at Hapchuk, Inc can assess your septic system to recommend a customized pumping schedule. Then, with friendly reminders, we take out the hassle of remembering to schedule your pumping. Regardless of who you choose, it is vital to the health of your septic system to have your tank pumped out regularly. 

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