frequently asked questions
Q: How often should I have my septic tank pumped?
According to the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association, solids should be removed from a tank every 2-3 years on average as part of a routine maintenance program. The frequency for pumping is largely dependant on the size of the tank and the number of people using the system. Some tanks may require less frequent pumping; others more frequent pumping. Contact a professional at Hapchuk, Inc. to have an accurate evaluation completed for your specific situation.
Q: Why should I have my septic tank pumped?
Neglecting to have a septic tank pumped out routinely can cause serious damage to the health of a system (often permanently) and is an expensive risk. Tanks are designed to allow the solids to separate from the liquids that enter into a tank while acting as a means of temporary storage of the solids until they can be pumped out. As solids separate from the liquid and accumulate on the top and bottom of the tank, the partially treated liquids are allowed to flow through the outlet line to the soil absorption area. If pumping of the solids is neglected and they fill up more than 1/3 of a tank's capacity, the effluent will carry the solids out of the tank and into the absorption area. There, the solids will decrease the effluent's movement through the absorption area and into the underlying soil. The potential problems that a homeowner may experience as a result of this process are significant, expensive to correct, and often difficult to repair (if permanent damage hasn't already been inflicted).
Another reason why you should maintain your system by having the tanks pumped out is to save money. Failing or disrupted systems can be very expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is most commonly the culprit. Regularly having your tanks pumped out is a bargain when you consider the costs associated with replacing an entire system. An unusable or impaired septic system will reduce your property value and could pose a legal liability.
Q: How do I properly maintain my septic system?
As emphasized above, regular pumping of a septic tank is an absolutely essential component of an effective maintenance program. In addition to routine pumping however, there are a number of ways to maintain a septic system that will help to protect against common problems that may surface.
Getting into the habit of using water efficiently is an effective way to contribute towards a healthy septic system. The more a household limits excessive water use, the less water enters the septic system and with it the less strain that is placed on the absorption area. Efficiency in water use can improve the operation of the system and reduce the risk of failure due to saturation of the absorption field. One example of how you can conserve your water usage and reduce the load on your septic system is by spreading out laundry cycles evenly throughout the week, rather than designating a single "laundry day".
Exercising caution with sending harmful materials down your lines is another important measure you should take in preventative maintenance of your system. The natural bacteria environment that occurs in a septic tank plays a vital role in digesting the solids and enabling the system to function as it was intended. This important bacterial presence is often overlooked and destroyed as many of the common household cleaners and products we all use are lethal in their nature to bacteria. Substances such as disinfectants, cleaning compounds, detergents, bleach, toilet cleaners, sink and tub cleaners, wax removers, polishes, and drain-openers often contain anti-bacterial agents which kill off the necessary bacteria in the septic tank, impairing the system's ability to operate properly. We rarely consider the effect of these products on the septic system when they're going down the drain, but without the bacterial presence necessary for solids digestion, the solids will accumulate rapidly until escaping into the soil absorption area. You should use discretion when shopping for household products by seeking out "septic friendly" or "biodegradable" marked alternatives when available. In addition, a quality bacteria-enzyme additive such as CCLS can be effective in replenishing your septic tank with a strong bacterial presence as needed to counter any harmful products entering the tank.