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The Home Depot

How Often Should My Septic Tank be Pumped?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Septic Tank > How Often Should My Septic Tank be Pumped?
How Often Should My Septic Tank be Pumped?

Most home owners do not think about the way the waste water and sewerage generated in their homes is disposed of. However, if your home has a septic tank you need to think about this before your leech field is poisoned or the sewerage backs up in the toilets. Once this happens, restoring the septic tank can be expensive and the water table and water around the house can become contaminated. In order to avoid these potential health hazards home owners should get their septic tanks examined once a year and pumped periodically. The actual gap between pumping depends on the size of the septic tank, the number of people living in the home, and whether you use a garbage disposal or not.

  1. 1.Benefits of Pumping Your Septic Tank

    The septic tank collects all the waste water from your home – from the toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and washing machine. The heaviest matter in the waste settles to the bottom as sludge while oil and protein floats at the top as scum. The middle layer or effluent is released into the leech field where the soil filters the water and the organic matter fertilizes the yard. However, over time, the sludge accumulates because the bacteria cannot decompose the sand, grit, plastic, and other inorganic matter that also forms part of the sludge. This can only be removed by pumping the septic tank and emptying so that it can receive more sewerage from the home.

  2. 2.Tank & Family Size

    The frequency with which you need to schedule a septic tank pumping depends on the tank size, the family size, and whether you use a garbage disposal unit or not. Typically, a 1,500-gallon tank that is used by a family of four needs to be pumped after four years. However, if the family also uses a garbage disposal the amount of solids in the waste water doubles, so the tank needs to be pumped every two years. On the other hand a family of four with a smaller septic tank or a family of two with a 1,500 gallon tank will need to change the frequency of pumping. Home owners can keep a record of when they pumped the septic tanks and the amount of sludge removed to better calculate when they next need to schedule a pumping of the septic tank.

  3. 3.The Truth on Additives

    There are many commercial additives that are supposed to help break down the sludge in the septic tanks. However, no study has been conducted to prove their efficacy. It probably is not surprising that this study is not exactly attracting many volunteers to conduct. But actually it does not seem that hard to determine what type of solution actually performs the best. There is plenty of waste on this planet, it does not seem one would have to imagine too hard that somewhere someone could concoct a chemical that dissolves human waste the best and in the most environmentally clean manner.


    Your septic tank already has an ecosystem of bacteria that breaks down the sludge. However, this cannot break down all the solids in the sludge as some of them are inorganic. Adding fresh bacteria to the septic tank will not help as the existing bacteria will likely kill the new entrants (unless someone concocted a powerful chemical or mixture that could waylay any bacteria that stands in its way). Instead, home owners should rely on pumping the septic tank and scheduling yearly maintenance checks to make sure that their septic tank does not back up.


Maintaining and clean and healthy environment at home includes ensuring that the septic tank is functioning properly and pumped periodically. This will prevent overflow, back up, and contamination of ground water and drinking water sources. Pumping the septic tank and disposing of the sludge is monitored and controlled by the EPA. You need to retain the services of a licensed septic tank pumping contractor to complete this work along with the necessary paper work.


Depending on the size of your family and the size of the septic tank, you need to have it pumped about once in four years. By spending the time and money to keep your septic tank maintained properly, you will be able to save on the time and money needed to fix it if it overflows or clogs. If the leech field of your septic tank clogs you will need to spend a lot to remediate the soil around it to make it safe for your family.


Even though most people do not think about their septic tank, a prudent home owner takes the time to have it inspected once a year. Additionally, the tank has to be pumped periodically by a licensed septic tank contractor to ensure that it stays functional and does not contaminate the water and land around the home. This is vital to ensure the health of the family and to sustain a normal quality of life.

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