How Often to Service Septic Tanks

Septic tanks are designed to handle the wastewater generated by your household, but they do require regular maintenance to keep working efficiently. Many, however, do not know how often to service septic tanks leading to potential problems down the line.

What is a Septic Tank?

They are a vital component of a household’s plumbing system, but not everyone fully understands what they are and how they work.

The basics of septic systems are that a septic tank is an underground container made from concrete, plastic, or fibreglass that collects wastewater and human waste from the home’s plumbing system.

It functions by allowing the solids to settle at the bottom, forming a sludge layer, while the lighter materials, such as oil and grease, float on top as the scum layer. In between is the clear liquid effluent that goes out to the drain field.

Every household with a septic system must know about its septic tank to effectively maintain it and avoid potential health hazards and system failure.  Lets look a little deeper in to how often to service septic tanks.

The Importance of Regular Servicing

Maintaining regular service is integral to maintaining a healthy and functioning septic system. Neglecting septic tank maintenance can lead to serious health risks and environmental problems.

For instance, the accumulation of solid waste in the tank can result in blockages in the perforated pipes and slow drains. This can, in turn, cause wastewater backups, foul odours, and even sewage overflow in or near the household. Additionally, failing septic systems can contaminate groundwater, rivers, and lakes, as well as damage nearby plant life.

Basic septic tank maintenance responsibilities include reducing water waste, avoiding flushing non-biodegradable materials such as cigarette butts and coffee grounds, and limiting the use of household waste disposals. Homeowners should also refrain from using wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, and paper towels, as these items can clog the system.

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This is because they require regular servicing, with a recommended frequency of at least once every three years. The frequency may need to be increased for larger tanks serving larger households.

Regular pumping and cleaning of septic tanks can prevent scum and sludge layers from reaching dangerous levels, maintain healthy bacteria levels, and prolong the life of the septic system.

The middle layer of water from waste (watery effluent) is sent to the drainage or leach field, where the soil filters it to treat the liquid waste.  Maintaining a consistent septic tank pumping schedule can provide several benefits, even in the absence of current issues.

Regular septic tank service is crucial in preventing health risks and environmental problems. Basic septic tank maintenance responsibilities should be adhered to, and owners should consider the size and usage of their tanks when determining servicing intervals.

Types of Septic Tanks

Septic tanks come in various types to suit different needs, so it’s essential to choose one that fits your household’s size and wastewater output.

The most common types of septic tanks are concrete, fibreglass, and plastic. Concrete tanks are the most durable and have a longer lifespan, but they’re also the most expensive.

Fibreglass is a popular and affordable option since it’s lightweight, easy to install, and corrosion-free. Plastic tanks are the cheapest variant and the most commonly used in residential settings, but they’re less durable and may need replacement sooner. Whichever type of septic tank you choose, proper maintenance is vital to extend its life and avoid system failures.

Regular pumping, cleaning, and inspection by professionals can help keep your system running smoothly but this also depends upon the septic tank size.

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Concrete Septic Tanks

Concrete septic tanks offer many features and benefits to homeowners. They are the most durable of all materials, making them a wise investment for the long term. Concrete tanks have the largest capacity of all materials, ensuring that they can handle large volumes of household wastewater. Additionally, concrete septic tanks are environmentally friendly since they use fewer resources during the manufacturing process.

However, it’s important to note that concrete septic tanks should always be installed by a licensed contractor. This is because proper installation is critical for the tank to function correctly and ensure that health hazards are avoided.

Despite the need for professional installation, concrete septic tanks remain a popular choice for homeowners due to their many benefits. They are extremely durable and long-lasting, which means they will provide many years of service. Moreover, concrete tanks have a high capacity, allowing them to manage large volumes of household wastewater effectively.

Concrete septic tanks are an excellent investment for homeowners who want a long-lasting, durable, and environmentally friendly waste disposal solution. However, it’s crucial to ensure that they are installed correctly by a licensed contractor to avoid health risks and potential septic system failure.

Plastic Septic Tanks

Plastic septic tanks are an alternative to traditional concrete and fibreglass septic tanks that are increasing in popularity due to their many advantages. They offer excellent durability and can last for many years, providing cost-effectiveness in the long run. These tanks are also known for their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and soil movement, making them ideal for areas prone to earthquakes or extreme temperatures.

Unlike concrete tanks, the installation of plastic septic tanks is easier and requires less professional intervention. They are also significantly lighter, making transportation and placement less challenging. Moreover, plastic septic tanks are made to fit different household sizes, making them a practical solution for a variety of needs.

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Overall, plastic septic tanks are an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a durable, easy-to-install and cost-effective alternative to traditional concrete and fibreglass tanks. So if you’re looking to invest in a septic system that is easy to maintain and can last for many years, a plastic septic tank is an option worthy of consideration.

Fiberglass Septic Tanks

Fibreglass septic tanks are another type of septic system that homeowners can choose from. Unlike traditional concrete septic tanks, a fibreglass septic tank is made of a combination of resin and glass fibres. This composition makes it more durable and corrosion-resistant than other types, allowing it to last longer.

One of the primary benefits of using a fibreglass septic tank is its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions without being damaged. Because it is made of fibreglass, it is not prone to cracking or rusting like a concrete tank. Additionally, fibreglass septic tanks are known to be lightweight, which makes the installation process much more manageable. This means homeowners can expect to have their new septic system up and running much sooner than they would with traditional concrete tanks.

While fibreglass septic tanks have their advantages, they also have some drawbacks. One major disadvantage is that they tend to be more expensive than concrete. Additionally, although the material is durable, it is not immune to damage from heavy traffic or sharp objects. However, with proper care and maintenance, a fibreglass septic tank can provide a long-lasting, reliable solution for household waste management.

How Often to Service Septic Tanks?

Septic systems are an essential component of any household’s plumbing system, as they provide a safe and effective way to treat and dispose of all the wastewater generated within a property.

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However, to keep your septic system functioning correctly, it’s important to ensure that it is adequately maintained. One of the most critical elements of septic system maintenance is knowing how often to service your septic tank.

We’ll now explore the factors that determine the frequency of septic tank servicing and offer advice on how to keep your septic system in top working condition.

Rule of Thumb for General Maintenance

General rules of thumb for maintaining your septic tank include regular inspections and pumpings. You should have your tank inspected at least once every three years and pumped every three to five years, depending on the household size and usage.

Larger households with more occupants and water usage may require more frequent maintenance and septic tank pumping.

By keeping up with regular maintenance, you can save money in the long run by preventing potential septic system failures that can lead to costly repairs. It’s also important to avoid putting harmful items down the drain, such as baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and coffee grounds.

It’s essential to prioritize septic tank maintenance to ensure the health and safety of your family and prevent environmental damage. So, follow the general rule of thumb for septic tank maintenance, inspect every three years and pump every three to five years, and keep up with healthy bacteria levels by avoiding putting harmful substances in the system.

Factors That Can Affect the Frequency of Service

Septic tank maintenance is crucial to keep your plumbing system running smoothly. Several factors influence the frequency of septic tank servicing. The size of the septic tank determines how often it needs to be pumped.

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Smaller tanks need more frequent pumping, while larger ones can go longer between servicing. The number of people in the house is also a crucial factor in determining the frequency of septic tank servicing. A large household creates more waste, resulting in more frequent pumping.

Water usage is another significant factor that affects how often you should service your septic tank. The more water you use, the more frequently the tank will need to be pumped. Similarly, the amount of wastewater output contributes to how often a septic tank requires servicing.

The presence of hazardous items such as cigarette butts, paper towels, wipes, toilet paper and feminine hygiene products can cause blockages and damage, requiring more frequent maintenance.

The amount of solid waste in the tank also affects the frequency of pumping. The sludge layer at the bottom of the tank should be checked regularly and cleaned out when necessary.

Scum levels on top of the liquid waste also require monitoring, and excessive scum can indicate an issue with the system. In conclusion, regular septic tank maintenance is critical, and by keeping these factors in mind, you can establish a suitable servicing schedule for your septic system.

Summary

We hope you now have a deper understanding of how often to service septic tanks and hope that you now have greater peace of mind.

Here is a quick summary of the article:

  • It is recommended to have a septic tank inspection at least once every three years.
  • It should be pumped every three to five years depending on usage and tank size.
  • Failure to maintain and service your septic tank can lead to faults, bad odours and potential operational problems which can become costly to fix.

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Updated: June 24, 2023

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Septic TanksHow Often to Service Septic Tanks