What is the difference between septic tank cleaning and pumping?
“Cleaning” and “pumping” are two terms often used interchangeably when it comes to septic tanks. However, the two terms refer to slightly different things. Septic cleaning refers to removal of all the water and compacted sludge from the bottom of the septic tanks while septic pumping refers to the removal of liquid and some floating sludge/solids.
The difference might seem miniscule but can have a great impact on the performance of your septic tank. Here are several things you need to look for to ensure that you receive a thorough cleaning or pumping job.
Septic Cleaning vs Septic Pumping
Septic pumping involves the extraction of sludge from a septic tank using a vacuum truck. However, the level of thoroughness of the job will depend on whether the company “cleans” or “pumps” the septic tank.
Some companies prefer inserting a vacuum hose in the tank thus sucking out the liquids only (pumping). However, removing all the solids and liquids (cleaning) from the tank is the better approach.
Factors That Affect Septic Cleaning
The Frequency of Cleaning/Pumping
Solids can be removed relatively easily in tanks that are pumped regularly (every 3 to 5 years). The thicker the sludge becomes, the harder the removal of the solids is. In case the sludge is heavy, water has to be added to the tank to break down the solids using a high-pressure water nozzle for removing the solids. In some situations, the solids are so thick that it is impossible to break them down. In such cases, it is recommended that re-pumping of the tank is done in 6 to 12 months.
Heavy roots can become entangled with the solids and if they cannot be removed, they will remain in the tank with the entangled sludge.
Size of the Access Lid
If the tank’s access opening is just a few inches wide, it might be impossible for the vacuum hose to reach the far sides of the tank.
Septic tanks that were installed after the late 1980s usually have 2 compartments and it is important to ensure that both compartments are pumped out each time. Dividing walls in those tanks are not necessarily watertight and it is possible to pump out nearly all the liquids present in the tank but still leave solids in the compartment that has not been cleaned out. Many homeowners don’t know that their septic tank has 2 compartments and some companies take advantage of this and charge to pump both side of the septic tank but only pumping just one.
Choosing a Reliable Provider
The challenges discussed here determine the level of difficulty when cleaning a septic and can actually give an unscrupulous septic cleaning company the perfect excuse for failing to clean your septic tank properly. Replacing your septic tanks is quite expensive and you need to ensure that it is handled properly. You should do proper research when choosing a maintenance provider for your septic tank.
If you’re not sure what to look for, here are some important questions to ask.
Do You Require Septic Tank Cleaning?
“Clean” and “pump” are terms that are often used interchangeably but competent technicians extract all solids from septic tanks when performing a septic cleaning. They also check for dividing walls and roots to ensure that your septic tank is cleaned properly.