How often should you empty your septic tank?

How often should you empty your septic tank?

Does your home have a septic tank? If it does, then you must be wondering very often, that how often should you empty it. Being a very integral part of the sewage system, septic tanks need to be maintained and kept in a functional state. Typically, they are constructed with either plastic or concrete. Their function is to collect water and sewage waste from your home. Since a septic tank has a finite capacity, homeowners are left wondering how often they should empty the tank.

The general thumb rule is to empty the tank once in three to five years. However, the exact frequency will depend on the usage and the number of occupants of the house. For a home with a small family of about two, the septic tank would need to emptied only once in about eight to ten years. On the other hand, for a larger household they will need to get the tank emptied more often.

Signs that indicate that your septic tank needs to be emptied

There are few signs that you should look out for to know if the septic tank needs to be emptied. Knowing these signs will help you identify the need at the right time and thus prevent damage and any health hazards. Some of the common signs you must be aware of are:

  1. Slow drainage: If you notice that your drains are slower than normal, this might be an indication of a clog. Slow drains are also a symptom of a full septic tank.
  2. Foul odor: The mixture of waste water from toilets, dishwasher, laundry and shower in the tank can create quite an obnoxious smell. If you notice such a foul odor in your yard or around the tank, then it is probably the time to get it emptied.
  3. Water puddles: If you notice pools of water in your lawn, by the tank, then it is surely a red flag. You must call an expert to empty the tank.
  4. Sewer backup: This is a sure shot sign of a tank that is full and needs to be emptied. The lowest drain or the one closest to the tank will be the first to show this sign. If you notice a backup in these, you must urgently hire an expert.
  5. Slow toilet flush: If the toilet is not flushing properly, but you do not see any clog or blockage, it could mean that the septic system has a problem and needs to be emptied.

Consequences of not emptying the septic tank in time

If the tank is not emptied in time, solids will build up in it. Eventually these reach the pipe and the drain field causing a clog. Some consequences of not getting your septic tank pumped at the right time are:

  • Sewage smell in the yard
  • Swamps or puddles in the lawn
  • Bright green color in the grass over the drainage field
  • Backing up of waste water
  • Slow drains
  • Environment damage
  • Unhappy neighbors

If you own a home with a septic tank, then you are required to comply with some local laws and guidelines. These are binding rules and must be adhered to by all homeowners who have a tank in their property. A key responsibility of the homeowner is to ensure regular inspection of the tank and proper maintenance of the same. An overflowing tank would signify that you are not complying with the rules. It will cause inconvenience to you and cost you a lot of money for the repair of damages. You neighbors will also face the brunt as they will bear the foul smell and health hazards caused by contamination of the local soil and water.

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