When to Have Your Septic Tank Pumped

septic tank

If you have a septic tank on your property, make sure the area around it is clear of weeds and any vehicles or lawn equipment. It’s also a good idea to figure out when the last time your septic tank was pumped.

Keeping on top of the pumping schedule reduces costs and helps keep your system working properly. This is especially important if you or your family members flush sanitary items like diapers, “flushable” wipes, and cotton balls. Click Here for more details.

Sludge and Scum

Septic tanks are designed to provide anaerobic treatment of wastewater, separating the liquid waste from solids. The solids are then either digested or stored. The sludge layer in your septic tank can build up to excessive levels if not pumped out regularly. It is important to keep sludge at a minimum of one foot and scum at a maximum of six inches to prevent clogs and system failure.

When septic tank sludge and scum accumulate, it prevents the bacteria from working to digest the incoming sewage. The heavy sludge layer can also block inlet and outlet pipes, which can cause sewage to back up into your home. This can cause health and safety issues for your family, as well as expensive septic tank repairs.

In addition, the sludge can also clog drainfields in your yard. This can lead to sewage seeping into the ground and damaging plants and soil. It can also create a dangerous environment for animals and humans that come into contact with the disease-causing organisms in sewage.

Sludge and scum are natural components of your septic system, but they can create problems if not pumped out periodically. You can easily check the sludge level in your septic tank by using a stick with a velcro strip. This strip allows you to measure the amount of sludge in your tank by simply lowering the stick into the tank until it hits the bottom and reading the measurement on the velcro strip. This is the easiest way to monitor your septic tank’s sludge levels and determine when it is time to have your tank pumped.

You can reduce the amount of sludge and scum in your septic tank by not flushing any items that do not break down quickly, including cigarettes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, facial tissue, and other “wipes.” These non-biodegradable wastes contribute to the sludge and scum layers, which can clog the inlet and outlet pipes and cause the wastewater to back up into your home. You can also reduce the sludge and scum in the tank by having your septic tank pumped at least every three to five years.

Drainage Problems

Septic systems are designed to handle a specific range of use. Putting too much waste into the tank can overfill it, which can cause wastewater to back up into your home. It can also overwhelm your drain field or absorption field causing clogs and failure.

Septic tanks have a baffle to stop sludge from getting into the outlet pipe and clogging the drain lines leading away from it. If you notice sewage backing up into your drains or sewer odors in the house, it may be an indication that the baffle has been displaced or there is a blockage somewhere else.

In order to keep the septic tank and pipes clear of solids, you need to limit garbage disposal use and what goes down your drains. Limiting laundry loads to one or two per day and not washing clothes back-to-back is helpful, as is using efficient showerheads and faucets to reduce your water usage.

It’s important to avoid planting trees near your septic system and drainage lines. The roots can crack or break the tanks and pipes. It’s also a good idea to have your septic tank pumped regularly and to keep it maintained by having any tree roots cut back as needed.

Your septic tank is surrounded by an 8 to 12-inch layer of mulch to help prevent erosion and soil compaction around the tanks, lines and drain field. If you notice that the mulch is starting to disappear or that the soil near your septic tank, pipes or drain field is wet, you need to have it checked out.

The manhole cover that provides access to the septic tank is supposed to be securely shut and sealed to prevent unwanted guests from entering your system. If you can smell septic fumes inside your home, you’ll need to check that the lid is in place and closed. Septic tank odors can also escape through the riser when the anaerobic bacteria in the tank break down organic waste. The odors are usually quite strong and must be dealt with quickly before they get into the house.

Blocked Drains

If you notice that your drains are slowing down or backing up, this is a sign that it’s time to have your septic tank pumped. When the septic system is working well, your sinks, toilets and tubs should drain in an even, slow manner. If your drains seem to be slowing down or back up, you should call a septic tank service immediately.

If your septic tank is starting to fill up too quickly, you may be using too much water. Alternatively, it could be that there is a problem with the septic tank itself or your drain field. If you’re worried that you might be using too much water, consider having your septic tank inspected and installing a water meter.

A septic tank has natural bacteria and enzymes that help to break down waste and solids so they can flow out of your drain pipes into the septic tank or septic field. However, some things you flush down the drains (like diapers, paper towels, and baby wipes) don’t decompose at all, so they build up in your septic tank or septic system pipes. This can lead to clogs, and it’s important to be careful about what you put down your drains so your septic system works properly.

It’s normal for a septic tank to have a scum layer that accumulates at the top and a sludge layer at the bottom. You can tell if it’s time to have the tank pumped by measuring the thickness of the sludge layer. Generally, the septic tank needs to be pumped when this layer reaches 6 inches thick or higher. You can also purchase a septic tank level indicator that will let you know when it’s time to have the septic tank pumped.

If your septic tank isn’t getting pumped regularly, the sludge layer can build up and overflow into your drain field or household pipes. This can cause a backup of sewage into your home, which is a serious health hazard for your family and pets. You should also have the septic tank inspected by an experienced technician to see if it has any damage that might require repairs or replacement parts.


Odors are a natural byproduct of the digestion process in your septic tank. As anaerobic bacteria digest organic waste, they release carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide (which emits the rotten egg kind of odor), and methane. While these gases wouldn’t be dangerous outside your septic tank, they can get very unpleasant inside your home if they’re allowed to build up.

If you smell sewage inside your home, it could indicate that the septic tank is overflowing or that there is a clog in the septic system. A professional plumber can help you resolve this issue by repairing the septic tank or drain field or removing the blockage.

It’s not uncommon to smell septic odors once in a while inside your home. It is a sign that your septic tank needs to be pumped. However, if you notice this smell more than once, it’s probably time to call a septic tank service.

You can also prevent septic odor by only flushing human waste and toilet paper. Don’t flush wet wipes, sanitary products, trash, cigarette butts, cat litter, or coffee grounds. These items can create clogs that interfere with the bacteria in your septic system.

You should also check your floor drain traps to ensure that they are fully functional. This includes checking the seals around them. You can do this by pushing a stick with a velcro strip down through the dark thick sludge in your septic tank until you feel it hit the bottom of the tank. The velcro will cling to it, allowing you to determine how much sludge is in your tank based on the number of inches it covers.

Another common cause of septic odor is a dry trap line. This can occur when you don’t use a drain for an extended period of time. You can correct this by installing a new wax seal on the drain or replacing it with a new one.

If you smell septic odors outside, it is not normal and usually indicates that there’s an unsealed manhole or access lid, a faulty vent stack, or the need to get your septic tank pumped. This is a serious problem because raw sewage can leak into the surrounding environment, and it’s also hazardous to you, your family, and pets.