As with many parts of your plumbing system, the septic tank probably gets little thought until something goes wrong. However, it can be one of the most costly repairs if small issues are left untreated. From leaks to overdue septic tank pumping, problems can lead to expensive, messy repairs. Most septic tanks are designed to last for 40 years or more, but you should keep up with routine maintenance.
Septic tank pumping schedule
Several factors will play into how often your septic tank should be pumped. A professional plumber will consider the size of your family, tank size, water use and whether a garbage disposal is used in the home. For most families, the septic tank should be pumped every three years, but if your water usage is higher than average or you frequently use the garbage disposal, your tank may require more frequent pumping. Keep in mind your state, city or county may have regulations on how frequently you’re required to have your septic tank pumped.
Signs septic tank is full
Between each septic tank pumping, you may notice signs that the tank is reaching max capacity. The idea is to keep an eye out for these warning signs before your yard is flooded with sewage. Typical signs of a full septic tank include:
- Drains in home backing up
- Sewage smell outside or inside your home
- Toilets unable to remove waste when flushed
If you notice any of these symptoms, but your tank has recently been serviced, you may be dealing with a blockage in your pipes or sewer line. If this occurs, call in a professional plumber to inspect the issue and find the exact cause of the problem. Don’t wait until a small issue becomes a major breakdown in your septic system.
While three years is a typical interval between septic tank pumping services, there are a number of factors that could cause that time to decrease. If you regularly entertain guests, rent out a portion of your home or operate a small business (i.e. daycare), you might need services more frequently.
Septic tank maintenance
Your water use and home size could mean your septic tank needs to be pumped every four or five years, but the time in between are just as important for proper functionality. You should have a septic tank inspection performed every two to three years. The plumber will check for leaks and other damage to the tank, measure the waste levels and ensure each part of the system is operating properly.
Septic tank pumping and maintenance is not a DIY job. Only a professional plumber should be allowed to inspect, repair or pump your tank. Relying on a handyman or otherwise unqualified individual could mean you end up with costly repairs and a significant mess. The average cost of a septic tank repair is more than $1,500 and a replacement of your tank is upwards of $10,000. Hire only a trusted professional who is licensed and insured to perform the work you need.