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How To Tell If Your Septic Tank Needs Cleaning

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If you have a septic system on your property, it will need attention occasionally. If you take care of it, routine maintenance will be limited to septic tank pumping and inspections, but it is also critical that you know how to recognize a problem if one should arise. 

Routine Maintenance

Most septic systems run without problems for years, and if the tank is the correct size, the only maintenance it needs is for a septic tank pumping service to come and pump the solids or sludge from the bottom of the tank. Most systems can go about three to five years before they need pumping, but that is only the case if the system is healthy and working correctly. 

It is essential that you do not put anything down the drain that could break the anaerobic cycle in the septic tank. That cycle keeps healthy bacteria in the tank to break down the solids and keep the liquid flowing out to the leach field. 

Grease, cooking oils, and fats will destroy the bacteria in the tank and may congeal in the lines or around the tank baffles over time. Once this happens, the tank must be pumped out and cleaned so the cycle can start again.

Septic System Problems

One telltale sign that the septic system is not working correctly and you need a septic tank pumping service to empty the tank is sewage backflow in your drains. If the water in the drains is not flowing correctly, or if you notice water or other material coming out of a drain anywhere in the house, you probably have a full septic tank. 

You may also see standing water over the septic tank, indicating there is no room in the tank, so the water is coming out of the overflow. Often, the water will have a foul odor to it and should not be ignored. A septic tank pumping service can come and remove the water and sludge from the tank for you, but it is crucial to determine what caused the tank to fill up.

Septic Tank Inspections

Once the septic tank pumping service has cleaned out the tank, a septic tank inspector can look over the system for you to determine if it is working correctly. They will look for damage to the tank, blockages in the baffles where the liquids run out of the tank, and pumps that may not be working correctly. 

If the tank passes inspection with no damage or problems found, you may need to consider having it pumped more often. Older tanks are sometimes smaller than what is required today, but often, they will only get changed if there is an issue, so talk with the inspector about your system, the septic tank pumping interval you should use, and if the system is adequate for your home.