How Often Should a Septic Tank be Cleaned? | Affordable Sanitation

How Often Should a Septic Tank be Cleaned?

septic pumping in pittsburgh

It may surprise you to know that a well-maintained septic system only needs to be pumped every 3-5 years. Several factors affect the length of time that can pass between pumpings. Details like household size, septic tank size, the total amount of wastewater produced, and the amount of solids in the wastewater all help to determine how long you can wait between pumpings. One of the other major keys to going 3-5 years between pumpings is conscientious use and daily maintenance of the system by household members. There are a number of daily steps you can take to extend the time between cleanings:

Make Efficient Use of Water

The less water you use in a day or at one time, the better off your septic system. To start, installing Energy Star appliances in your home is a great way to conserve water and save money. For example, an Energy Star-labeled clothes washer will use 50% less water than its non-Energy Star competitors.

A high-efficiency toilet uses much less water per flush than older models, and for an appliance that accounts for nearly 30% of household water use, this is an important fact to consider.

Installing items like faucet aerators or shower head flow restrictors can also cut down on the amount of water being used at the sink and in the shower.

When doing laundry, try to spread out the loads across the week if possible, and be sure to select the correct load size so that extra water isn’t wasted on smaller loads.

Finally, space out your water usage during the day. Don’t allow laundry, dishes, and bathing to occur all at once. This can tax the septic system and cause dangerous expensive backups.

Be Careful About What Goes Down the Drain

Anything and everything that you flush down the toilet or rinse down the sink drain will end up in your septic system, so it’s important to know what can and can’t be deposited into your system.

Septic systems are created to break down and treat waste coming from your home, but there are many types of garbage and numerous household materials that should never be flushed or washed into the system. Waste materials that should never be flushed include but are not limited to:

• Wipes-Flushable or Baby Wipes

• Diapers

• Tampons

• Condoms

• Dental Floss/Tape

• Paper Towels

• Medicines

• Coffee Grounds

• Cat Litter

A septic system can’t break down these materials and can easily become clogged, causing extreme amounts of damage. If items like these are placed into the system, you may face the costs associated with malfunctioning septic system parts and the ensuing mess that would result above ground. Be sure to have an alternative disposal plan for the items that you cannot flush or wash into your septic system.

In addition to the list above, always avoid dumping chemicals or cooking oil/grease down the drain. The corrosive nature of these items can destroy the living organisms in the septic tank that break down waste, inhibiting the system from doing its job or damaging parts.

Protect Your Drainfield

The drainfield is where your wastewater gets dispersed back into the soil. You want to be sure to protect this underground piping and the area around it.

• Never park on your drainfield as this could cause damage to the piping.

• When planting trees and other plants, be sure to locate them far enough away from the drainfield that their roots do not interfere with or become entangled in the drainfield system.

• Keep other drainage systems away from the drainfield and surrounding area. Directing excess water into the drainfield area could significantly slow the septic system’s processes.

Maintaining your septic system on a daily basis should allow it to function properly and efficiently for 3-5 years between cleanings. If your septic system is in need of cleaning or maintenance, call the experts at Affordable Sanitation and schedule a service today. We will be happy to assist you with all of your septic system needs.


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