How Often Should You Pump A Septic Tank? (Answer)

Septic tank care…out of sight, out of mind. Right? Unfortunately that’s the mantra for many homeowners with septic tanks. And unfortunately, the reality is that septic tank maintenance really is one of the least thought about home maintenance projects. That is until it’s too late!

But don’t wait until it’s too late. Believe me, you do not want to experience what it’s like to have raw sewage backup into your house. It’s gross…and it’s costly.

So then, how often should you pump a septic tank? That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post.

Why A Septic Tank Needs To Be Pumped

One of the most common errors that professionals see homeowners make are not pumping their septic tanks on a frequent enough basis. Believe it or not, but maintaining a regular septic tank pumping schedule actually prolongs the life of the entire septic field, which can be extremely costly to replace. If taken care of properly, a septic tank should last you decades.

In addition to potentially expensive repair costs, another important reason to pump your septic tank is for health reasons.  When the septic tank fills, it will overflow. And that raw sewage that spills out of the tank will either make its way up to the surface, or it’ll seep its way down into the ground water.  Which is bad news if you’re on a well where you’re at.

How Often Should You Pump A Septic Tank

There are a number of factors that go into determining how often you should pump a septic tank. But generally speaking, you should pump out the septic tank once every 3 to 5 years.

However, like I mentioned, there are other factors that come into play. The actual frequency will depend mostly on how much you and your family use the septic tank, and how many people are using the septic tank.

As you can imagine, you’ll most likely need to pump your septic tank much more often if you have a large family. In this case I would definitely empty the tank every 3 years.  But if you have a small family, or live alone, then you could probably even get away with pumping the tank ever 5 to 10 years.

Septic Tank Pumping Chart

There’s a number of factors that goes into deciding how often you should pump a septic tank. However, the largest contributing factors are the number of people using the septic tank as well as the overall size of the septic tank being used.

For more detailed information on how often you should pump a septic tank, refer to this septic tank pumping chart:

Credit: MrDansPlumbing.com

Factors That Can Cause An Increase In Septic Tank Pumping Frequency

According to mrdansplumbing.com, there are a number of things that would cause you to have to pump your septic tank more frequently than you’d normally have to.

These things are:

A Surge Of Heavy Use

They go on to explain that, “Simply pumping the tank based on average occupancy over the year can get you into trouble. The big surge of sewage and wastewater can overwhelm the septic system’s ability to cope, particularly you may flood the drainfield or push solids into the drainfield.”

Garbage Disposal/ Food Waste Grinder

Do you use a garbage disposal or a food waste grinder? If so, then believe it or not, but you’re filling up your septic tank faster with solids than you would by simply throwing out that same solid waste.  

Sewage Ejector Pump

Mrdansplumbing.com also suggests, “The use of a sewage ejector pump connected to the septic system may increase septic tank pump out frequency by adding macerated sewage that increases the risk of pushing floating solids into the drainfield.”

High Use Of Washing Machine

It’s not just the toilet water that makes its way to the septic tank.  Every sink and drain inside your house drains into the septic tank, including the grey water from your washing machine. If you tend to do a lot of laundry, all that water ends up in the septic tank.

Increase In Occupants

If you have a large number of guests that are staying with you, then a lot more water and sewage is being sent to the septic tank.  All this extra human activity is going to mean that you’ll need to pump out the septic tank much sooner.

Final Thoughts

There’s no cut and dry answer to how often should you pump a septic tank. But there are some definite suggested rules you should go by.  

First, refer to the septic pump frequency chart above.  If that doesn’t answer your question, then you should default to pumping your septic tank every 3 to 5 years.  However, if your septic tank gets much heavier than normal use, then you should err on the side of caution and pump the septic tank every 3 years.

Related Posts:

1. How Long Does A Septic Tank Last

2. How To Tell If Your Septic Tank Is Full: 7 Warning Signs Of A Full Septic Tank

3. Does Shower Water Go Into The Septic Tank?

4. The Best Toilet Paper For Septic Tanks (Top 3)

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