Although a septic system is highly essential, most people spend little time thinking about it. If you didn't know, a septic tank could serve you for decades if it's properly maintained. However, if you neglect it, it can lead to major problems. In this context, you need to understand best maintenance practices, which mainly take the form of regular septic tank pumping.

Why Does a Septic Tank Require Pumping?

As Indicated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one way of caring for your septic tank is through frequent inspection and pumping.

Getting your septic tank pumped has the following advantages:

  • Removes problematic items that you shouldn't flush down the toilet- If left in the septic system, they can easily fill up the tank or clog the drain pipes.
  • Improves the system's efficiency- By keeping the tank at recommended working levels, it continues to function as intended.
  • It prevents too much build-up- You avoid solids overflow and slower draining.
  • It's preventative maintenance- Regular pumping helps you avoid certain problems, such as slow draining, leaking pipes, and strange odors.

How Frequently Should you Pump Your Septic Tank?

As recommended by EPA, a household septic tank should be pumped in every three to five years. After three years, you should ensure that it is inspected by a septic service provider. For commercial systems, primarily the ones with electrical pumps, float switches, and other mechanical components, inspection should be more frequent.

As noted in an article by the Oregon State University, the frequency of septic tank pumping depends on the following factors:

  • The capacity of the tank- The larger the tank, the less the pumping frequency.
  • The daily volume of wastewater- This depends on family size or the population served by the system.
  • Amount of solid waste produced- These are biodegradable, slowly biodegradable, and non-biodegradable solids drained into the system.
  • Lifestyle- The age of residents affects water use and solid waste put into the septic tank.

How Do You Tell if Your Septic Tank Needs Pumping?

Removing the sludge should always be done before it builds up to a level where it blocks the system's outlet pipe. Aaron Stickley, a home repair author at The Spruce, states that there are always warning signs when a septic tank needs pumping.

These signs include:

  • Odor- As the tank fills up, there will be sewage and sulphurous smell in your house.
  • Slow drain- You will notice that the toilet, bathtub, and sink drain abnormally slowly.
  • Stagnant water- Since pipes leading to the drainfield are blocked, water pools around the septic tank.
  • The drainfield becomes strangely green- You will notice that the grass in the drainfield is unusually green due to excessive waste fluid.


A Septic tank mess can be a real headache. If the drainpipe blocks due to lack of pumping, you would be forced to look for a drain line repair service. If you properly maintain your drain system through regular pumping, you will not have problems for decades.