For millions of people living in rural settings septic tank pumping is a fact of life. With the closest municipal sewage hookup miles away a properly maintained and working septic system is vitally important and getting it pumped out at regular intervals is a part of that maintenance. In this article we will look at why getting it pumped out regularly is so important, how it is done and about how much you can expect to pay for this service.
But before we get into all that let’s take a quick look at what a septic system is and how it works. In simplest terms a septic system is an underground sewage treatment system for homes that do not have access to municipal sewer services. It typically is comprised of four parts; the waste pipe from the house, the septic tank, the drain field and the soil. All these parts need to in working order but the tank itself is the most important part.
Getting the tank pumped out at regular intervals keeps it working properly and prevents clogs that can cause sewage to back up into the house and create disgusting odors. The primary contributor to septic tank clogs are things that very biodegradable. This includes cooking grease and oils that get dumped down the drain and paper products other then toilet paper; paper towels, sanitary napkins and tampons, cigarette butts and cotton balls will all eventually degrade but they tend to get stuck in the inner working of the tank and create clogs that worsen over time.
Another reason to get a septic tank pumped regularly is to check it for damage that can compromise its ability to work in an efficient manner. Once it’s pumped out it can be visually inspected for cracks and other damage. If any damage is detected it needs to be repaired to prevent future problems.
The pumping process itself is pretty straight forward. A large truck, sometimes referred to as a “Honey Wagon”, with a big tank, suction pump, and a large hoses will come to the property and park in the general vicinity of the septic tank. The operator will remove the manhole cover from the tank, lower the suction hoses into it and fire up the pumps, sucking the accumulated waste into the holding tank on the truck.
A good pumping service will also provide a thorough inspection of the septic tank once it is pumped clean. They will inspect the tank, valves and inlet and outlet ports for damage such as cracks or clogs. They will also inspect the ground around the tank for signs of leaks as well. Any problems should be brought to the homeowner so that they can be dealt with to ensure the proper operation of the entire septic system.
The cost to get a septic tank pumped out varies and will depend on where you live along with a few other factors. Normally it will cost between $125 to $250 or more. The easier the job the less it will cost but there are some circumstances that can cause the price to increase.
The first problem many homeowners run into is knowing exactly where there septic tank is buried. This is particularly true for people who have purchased a home with an existing system. If it is buried and its location isn’t readily apparent then your septic pumping service can use a plumbing snake with a radio emitter attached to the end. The snake is fed through one of the cleanouts in the house and out into the tank. A radio receiver is then used to find the end of the snake which gives the location of the tank.
Another problem is a lack of a septic riser over the lid covering the opening into the tank. If the pumping contractor has to dig down to find the lid this can add to the cost of the service. This is also the perfect opportunity to install a riser to avoid this issue for future pump outs.
The thing to remember when it comes the cost of pumping a septic tank out; The easier it is to for the pumper truck driver to find and access the tank the lower the overall cost will be. It can be well worth it to address any of these issues the first time you get your tank pumped out as it will keep costs down in the future.
Septic tank pumping is the most important part of maintaining a septic system. A clogged or overfull tank is the primary cause of many septic system problems that can be prevented through regularly scheduled visits by the “Honey Wagon”.