Pumping the Tank

Some materials in wastewater cannot be decomposed and must be periodically removed from the tank by a licensed systems cleaner, who will pump out this material and take it to a wastewater treatment plant for disposal. If you have a two-compartment tank, both compartments should be pumped. The pumper should also remove all the water from the tank; this will allow a "rest period" for the leaching field. There is no need to add bacteria to 're-start' the tank; this will occur naturally as the tank fills back up

Risks of Not Pumping

Failure to regularly pump the tank may result in sludge being carried into the leaching field where it can plug the soil pores and cause failure. Since repairing a failing absorption bed may cost many thousands of dollars, the cost of routine pumping represents a very reasonable investment in protecting your OWTS.

Cleaning Filters

Person using hose sprayer to clean effluent filter in groundMany septic tanks will also have devices called effluent filters on the outlet of the tank. These should never be discarded and may require routine cleaning once a year. To do so, simply pull up on the filter to remove it from its sleeve and hose it off so that the water drains back into the tank, then replace the filter back in its sleeve. Since there are toxic gasses within a tank, always use caution when removing a tank lid or leaning over the wastewater. Wear protective gloves and eyewear and avoid breathing in the fumes. Once work has been completed, be sure to carefully secure the lid to prevent accidental entry.

Recommended Pumping Frequency

This table provides recommended pumping frequency in years for most septic tanks. This can vary considerably based on your specific water use. Jefferson County Public Health recommends that you establish a pumping reminder with a licensed system cleaner so that they will notify you when pumping is due.

Tank Size (Gallons)
1 -2 Occupants
3-4 Occupants 5-6 Occupants 6+ Occupants
Up to 1,000 6 years
3 years 2 years Every year
1,250 7 years 4 years 3 years Every year
1,500 8 years 5 years 4 years 2 years
1,750 10 years 7 years 5 years 3 years
2,000+ 11 years 8 years 6 years 3 years