The average house that has three occupants and two baths will produce more than 85,000 gallons of wastewater per year. That is 250-300 gallons per day. The septic tank is a type of living filter that separates solids, scum and pretreats wastewater before it goes out to the drain-field for the final purification process. It can take 24-48 hours for the process to complete. Even good systems that are not cared for properly can turn into an expensive problem and neighborhood health hazard. Failed systems can cause surface and groundwater pollution and expensive property damage. It is very important for your septic system to be maintained.
You should inspect your tank yourself once per year or have the levels checked by a septic tank technician. Also, the drain field areas should be inspected periodically for surfacing sewage, wet spots, and odors. On some systems, county and state regulations might require more often.
1. The tank needs to be pumped once the bottom part of the scum has reached to within 3 inches of the bottom of the tank’s outlet device.
In order to measure the amount of scum accumulation, take a 3-inch square block and nail it to a 6-foot pole and then poke the block through the layer of scum. Move your pole up and down carefully to feel resistance as you are moving the block against the bottom part of the layer of scum. Mark the place on the part of the pole that is level to the ground. Net, feel for the bottom part of the outlet pipe and then mark this level on your pole. If these two marks are 3 inches or less apart, then you need to pump your tank.
2. Once the top layer of sludge is within 12 inches of the bottom part of the outlet, you should pump your tank.
To check the level of sludge, wrap a rag over the bottom 3 feet of your 6-foot pole and use tape to fasten it. Push down the towel to the bottom part of the tank and then twirl it around. Mark your pole at ground level. Then pull out the pole after a couple of minutes and then measure the difference between the bottom part of the outlet pipe (that you marked when you checked the level of sludge) and the top layer of sludge (the top part of the black material that is on the towel). Your tank should be pumped, if the distance is 12 inches or less.
If you happen to notice any of the following warning signs, immediately call Alto Sewer for help.
1. Slow draining fixtures
2. Gurgling sounds within the plumbing system
3. Septic tank or plumbing backups
4. Wet spots, surfacing sewage, doors or the growth of lush vegetation within the drain field area.
After solids flow into the drain field and cause damage, a failed drain field cannot be brought back to life by pumping the septic tank.