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What is a Septic Tank?
An underground tank to collect wastes from homes that are not connected to a municipal sewer system. Waste goes from the home to the tank and is decomposed by bacteria. Solids and dead bacteria settle to the bottom as sludge while the liquid portion flows into the ground through drains
Why does a Septic Tank need to be cleaned (pumped out)?
As a septic system is used, sludge continues to accumulate in the bottom of the septic tank. Properly designed tanks have enough space for up to three years of safe accumulation of sludge. When the sludge level increases beyond this point, sewage has less time to settle before leaving the tank and more solids escape into the absorption area. If too much sludge accumulates, no settling occurs before the sewage flows to the soil absorption field. Infiltration of sludge into the soil absorption field can cause system failure. To prevent this, the tank must be pumped periodically. The material pumped is known as septage.
How often do you need to clean a Septic Tank?
While not an exact measurement, the chart below can help approximate the frequency of required cleaning. For example if you have 4 people in your household with a 1,500 gallon Septic Tank, it is estimated you would need it cleaned every 4.2 years.
*Garbage disposals will increase the frequency of pumping. For example, if the same 4 residents had a garbage disposal and was generally producing a higher volume of wastewater, the pumping frequency would be calculated as follows: 4.2 years - [(0.2) x 4.2 years] = 3.36 years
Click here for information published by Placer County Division of Environmental Health regarding septic tanks.
|Number of Occupants Residing in Household|
|Estimated Cleaning Frequency in Years|
PLACER COUNTY DIVISION OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Septic Questions & Answers - Published 03/15/90
|How often should my septic tank be pumped?|
|Every 3 to 5 years, depending on how many people use it.|
|Why does the septic tank need to be cleaned and pumped?|
|Regular cleaning of the tank is part of a complete preventative maintenance program necessary to the life of the system. Solids must be removed from the tank before they leave the tank and become deposited and clog the absorption field. If the absorption field is clogged, cleaning the tank is of little benefit.|
|How can I inspect my septic tank myself?|
The easiest way to gain information on
the condition of the tank is to hire a professional experienced with
septic systems. To inspect the tank, remove the manhole cover at
the inlet end. It is most thorough to check both the scum and
sludge levels, but checking only the scum layer will give you a good
idea if the tank needs pumping or not. Usually these tanks have a
6-foot liquid depth. Use caution to avoid falling in the tank.
Do not light a match near an open tank or inhale significant amounts of
noxious fumes liberated. Standing on the tank or surrounding soil,
use a shovel and push the scum layer away from the side of the tank so
that you can estimate its thickness. If the thickness of the scum
layer is a foot or more, arrange to have your tank pumped immediately.
Replace the manhole cover and thoroughly wash the shovel and your hands.
The disease causing bacteria found in the septic tank can be hazardous
to your health if ingested. Good personal hygiene after this type
of contact is critical.
If your system has inspection pipes at the end of the leach lines, they can be checked for pooling of liquid. Accumulation of water in the leach line is an early indication of problems.