Unsewered developments, remote properties and older homes often rely on the use of septic tanks to dispose of household wastewater. Although some areas will no longer permit the installation of a septic system, if mains wastewater disposal systems are not available, septic tanks are the most common wastewater system used.
Poor maintenance of a septic tank can cause health and financial issues. To minimise problems, homeowners should know when to have their septic tank pumped out.
What Is a Septic Tank System?
A septic tank system is a basic sewerage storage and treatment facility commonly found in unsewered domestic developments. Household wastewater disposed of a kitchen, bathroom or laundry passes through into the septic tank located under the property. The septic tank stores the wastewater and breaks down the solids through settling and anaerobic processes.
Why Do You Need to Pump Out a Septic Tank?
As a septic system accumulates waste, the volume of the tank is reduced. The sewerage stored within your tank can produce disease-causing parasites and micro-organisms which can be detrimental to your health and safety. In order for your septic system to handle household waste effectively and safely and prevent diseases from spreading, it’s vital that septic tanks are regularly pumped and maintained.
What Are the Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Septic Tank?
Although it cannot be seen from inside your home, there are many signs that can indicate that your septic tank may need a scheduled or emergency maintenance. These include:
- Strong and unpleasant smells (rotten egg-like gas is common).
- Toilets and drains are struggling to clear.
- Grass around the septic tank area is darker green and thriving well.
- Liquid waste overflows.
- Wet areas near or on top of the septic tank.
If you have noticed any of the above warning signs or your septic tank hasn’t had any maintenance in the last 12 months, you should contact your local liquid waste disposal professionals for a health check.
How Often Should a Septic Tank Be Pumped Out?
On average, home septic tanks should be pumped out every two to five years to ensure that the system is functioning at peak condition. However, a septic tank pump-out may be required more often depending on how many litres your septic tank holds, and how many people are in your household.
Over time, it’s commonplace for your home’s septic tank to overflow or become blocked. Periodic septic tank pumping will help with the following issues:
- Eliminates bad odours.
- Prevents sewer and drain blockages.
- Minimises discharge of raw sewerage.
- Prevents damage to pumps and/or sand filters clogging.
- Prevents slow draining showers and sinks, and toilets that won’t flush.
How Is a Septic Tank Pumped Out?
Septic systems generally consist of one single tank or two tanks connected by a pipe. The latter is designed to be used by up to ten people. However, all septic tanks have sets of drainage receptacles known as soakwells or lead drains. Failure of septic tanks usually means the drainage receptacles have failed.
Septic tanks are given a health check by measuring the sludge and scum layer. Because many systems are buried, you can locate your system through the original tank permits or by engaging with a professional like Tunnel Vision who can help expose your home’s tanks and inspect your sludge levels.
Once the levels have been recorded, the septic tank is emptied. Time and costs for this process will vary depending on the size and location of your tank. The septic tanks are then pumped, a technician will re-examine for any damage, and your septic tank will be re-sealed when all maintenance has been finished.
How Do You Maintain a Septic Tank?
Regular maintenance can help you avoid overflows of waste and septic tank emergencies. To prevent smaller problems escalating into major ones, make sure you properly dispose of waste and implementing the following tips:
- Don’t put harsh chemicals or paint down the drain.
- Avoid planting trees and shrubs with deep roots near your septic tank system.
- Use a trained technician to pump the system.
- Don’t flush items down the toilet.
- Conserve water through Energy Star appliances, fixing leaking faucets and repairing running toilets to maintain an efficient system.
- Allows as little fat and grease into drains.
Regularly maintaining and pumping your home septic tanks is paramount in preventing long term sewerage issues. To arrange a health check or to find out more information about septic tank pump-outs, contact our trained professionals today.