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Your septic tank is an important system in your home, and one that must be maintained. Septic tank maintenance involves pumping out your septic tank periodically to remove solid wastes that have settled to the bottom of the tank. Keeping your septic tank clean and functioning properly will also keep your home safe and sanitary.

How often should you consider pumping out your septic tank?

How often you’ll be pumping out your septic tank depends on a few factors, including the size of your home, the size of your tank, the number of people in your household and how you use your septic system.

Your septic tank has three identifiable layers where different biological activities occur. Grease, fats and other particles that are lighter than water will float to the top of the tank to create a layer of “scum.” It’s important for your septic maintenance company to measure the thickness of the scum layer. The thickness of the layer can indicate whether the tank is being pumped often enough. It can also help your septic maintenance company determine whether or not your septic field has been damaged by infrequent maintenance. Maintenance that is conducted too infrequently can cause the septic drain field to fail, resulting in an expensive repair.

The middle layer of the tank is wastewater that drains from the tank. The bottom layer of the tank is sludge, which is comprised of solid waste that cannot be flushed from the tank.

Just as it’s important to measure the thickness of the scum layer, it’s also important to know how thick the sludge layer is. The tank should be pumped out when the sludge layer accumulates to within about 18 inches of the tank outlet. Failing to pump out the sludge layer will shorten the life of the tank, and damage your home and the drain field.

Your tank is the best predictor of how frequently you’ll need to consider pumping out your septic tank. A four-person household with a 750-gallon septic tank may need cleanout services every other year, whereas the same household with a 1,500 gallon tank may only need to have the tank pumped out every four years. There really is no hard-and-fast rule about pumping out your septic tank, except that you’ll need to do it! Annual inspections will allow your septic system provider to interpret your septic maintenance needs based on what’s actually happening in your tank.

If you’d like more information about septic system maintenance, please contact us at Clear Drain Cleaning at (330) 343-7146 to schedule a visit!