How Often Do You Need To Pump Your Septic Tank?

Septic Tank Pump Truck in Portland Oregon

The most common question people have in Portland, Oregon about their septic tank is how often they should pump it. This is an important question to ask because cleaning out your tank is a critical part of a long-lasting system.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions out there on this topic. The worst is that you don’t actually have to pump your tank at all and that septic tanks will pretty much last forever. You’d be surprised how many people believe this.

The other problem is that a lot of people also assume that as long as they get their tank pumped once every 3 years, they’re in the clear. This is because 3 years is the default answer septic professionals give when this question comes up. It’s the best one to give when you have to give a short answer. Pumping once every three years is better than what many people are doing.

Find a pros in Portland Oregon who’ll tell you how often to pump your tank for your particular property:

But there are a lot of tanks out there that should be pumped more often than that…

Why Do Septic Tanks Need To Be Pumped?

It’s important to understand why your tank needs pumped so that your neighbor or relative doesn’t convince you that it doesn’t actually need done. They’ll tell you that there are bacteria in the tank that break everything down, so the tank takes care of itself.

This is a convincing argument because it’s partially true. The tank does take care of itself for the most part. If solids weren’t broken down, a septic tank could fill up in a few months.

The problem is that the bacteria don’t break everything down. Small amounts of solid waste remain in the tank and accumulate over time. If this sludge builds up and fills the tank, lines can get clogged, potentially requiring the entire system to be replaced.

This can get expensive, fast. And it’s entirely avoidable if you just clean your tank on the proper schedule.

How Often Should You Have It Pumped?

There is no one number that will apply to everyone. The reason why this is true is simple:

A house with more people will create more waste and fill a similarly sized tank faster than a smaller household. Also, a smaller tank will fill faster than a bigger one.

So if you have a big family and a small tank, you may need to pump it every year!

If you live alone and have a large tank, you may be able to last a decade or more without actually needing to have it pumped.

When installing new tanks, they’re usually sized to provide 3 to 5 years worth of capacity for the expected use. But as families grow and houses are sold, the original capacity needs can change quickly.

If you want to calculate the precise frequency that you should be pumping your tank based on your tank size and sewage output, the University of Minnesota put together a handy guide for doing just that. You can find it here.

Signs Your Tank Needs To Be Pumped ASAP

If you are worried that your tank needs pumped sooner rather than later, here are 5 signs to look for. If you notice any, you should call a professional immediately because your tank may be overfilled and pumping it should be a priority if you want to prevent further damage…

  1. Slow draining
  2. Bad odors
  3. Water pooling in your yard
  4. Very green areas of grass near your tank
  5. Drains backing up

Hopefully you won’t find any of the above symptoms. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean your tank doesn’t need pumped. It just means that it isn’t failing yet. Waiting to see those signs to have your tank pumped is a great way to create unneeded repairs and expenses by breaking your tank.

Long story short, have your tank pumped regularly!

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