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Septic Tank Pumping: When and How Often to Do It

Modern septic tanks are a major step forward from the old-fashioned cesspit. 

With cesspits, you just kept on filling them with wastewater until they could take no more – in busy households, that would mean they’d need emptying fairly regularly.

Septic tanks, on the other hand, comprise multiple chambers where the wastewater is separated into liquid, solids and scum. The liquid is safely released into the environment, leaving just sludge at the bottom of the tank. You can read more about how septic tanks work in this previous blog.

Septic tanks do still need regular pumping, although it won’t need doing anything like as often as it would with a cesspit. This article will examine why it needs doing, how often it should happen and how you should go about getting it done.


Why do septic tanks need to be pumped?

As already mentioned, much of what goes into a septic tank is subsequently discharged at the other end, leaving an unpleasant sludge remaining at the bottom of the tank. Some of that sludge will be broken down by bacteria, but over time what is left will inevitably start to build up. 

As that happens, less room is left for fresh wastewater to be dealt with effectively. After a while, you start to run the risk of there not being enough room for new intake, and that could mean your tank overflowing into the surrounding area, or wastewater backing up into your property.

Clearly, that’s something you want to avoid – and to do that, you need to get your tank pumped out.


How often should a septic tank be pumped out? 

This will largely depend on two things: the size of the tank itself and how many people there are typically living at the property. Naturally, more people tend to produce more waste.

You would normally expect to have to pump your septic tank every three to five years, although having it inspected more often – perhaps every two or three years – would be advisable to make sure there are no blockages or other issues developing that might give you a problem before your next pump is due.

Of course, the combination of a small tank and a large household could mean pumping is required more often, possibly as often as once a year. If you’ve recently acquired a septic tank and you’re not yet sure how quickly it fills, it’s best to err on the side of caution until you’re used to how it performs – the price of getting it wrong could be both messy and smelly!


How to get your septic tank pumped

To get your septic tank pumped, you’ll need the services of a licensed waste carrier. That’s because what will be extracted can represent a significant health hazard and has to be disposed of according to very specific legislation so that it doesn’t end up in the environment, in watercourses, or indeed anywhere it might cause a threat to animals, plants or people.

Penalties for the illegal discharge or disposal of sewage waste are severe, including unlimited fines and/or up to twelve months’ imprisonment. Licensed operators can ensure that all such waste is disposed of in the right way, and it’s worth checking their credentials at the beginning, because if you use an unlicensed operator, you might also be held responsible for any illegal dumping of waste.


Here at Need a Tanker, we’re licensed waste carriers who offer fast and responsible septic tank emptying, pumping and maintenance services to clients across the country. Our friendly and fully trained teams of engineers are equipped with a modern fleet of tankers and have the experience and equipment to make simple work of emptying your tank every time.

Get in touch with us now to find out more.

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