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Septic System Maintenance: An Introduction


Why Should You Pump An Older Septic Tank More Frequently?

You can expect a concrete septic tank to last for decades. Unlike many other parts of your home, there's a good chance you'll rarely, if ever, need to consider replacing a well-maintained septic tank. However, maintaining your tank is key to keeping the system operational for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the definition of "well maintained" can shift a bit as your tank gets older.

Just as you may need to change your oil more frequently on a car with many miles, it may be a good idea to pump your tank more frequently as your system ages. To understand why this is the case, it's important to understand how your septic system wears down over many decades of safe and reliable service.

Why Do Septic Systems Fail?

Poor maintenance (i.e., infrequent pumping) is the number one reason septic systems fail prematurely. However, even well-maintained systems will eventually require replacement. In general, these failures occur due to the gradual deterioration of the concrete tank due to corrosion, physical stresses, and wear. Leaching fields may also become saturated, preventing them from adequately draining.

While all septic tanks and leaching fields eventually fail, good maintenance can drastically extend their life span. Leaching fields are particularly vulnerable to poor maintenance. Infrequent pumping allows solids to enter the field, clogging distribution pipes and potentially creating an anaerobic environment that kills necessary microfauna. As a result, the leaching field loses its ability to filter and drain waste.

Why Should You Consider More Frequent Pumping?

Remember that the main goal of pumping your tank is to protect your leaching field. This part of your system is often the most expensive to replace, and a well-maintained field will often outlast a similarly well-maintained septic tank. However, leaching fields still become slowly saturated over time and regular usage, reducing the ability of the soil to filter effluent efficiently.

Additionally, deterioration in the septic tank can make it easier for solids and grease to enter the leaching field. These contaminants will further degrade the distribution piping and affect the microfauna in the field. As a result, an older field may degrade more quickly, causing frequent problems such as sewage backups.

More frequent pumping can help prevent these issues by ensuring that solid levels in your tank remain as low as possible, minimizing the likelihood of solids entering the leaching field. More frequent pumping will also provide more opportunities for tank inspections, helping you to spot concrete deterioration or other problems before they become critical.

An increased pumping schedule isn't necessary for an older septic system, but it can be a good idea that can potentially help extend the life of your system by years. 

Contact a local septic tank service, such as DWR Waste Removal & Septic, to learn more. 

About Me

Septic System Maintenance: An Introduction

Septic systems rely on a delicate balance of specific bacteria and enzymes to properly function and avoid backups, clogs, and similar issues. These systems also need regular pumping, care, and maintenance to keep them functioning at their best. For many homeowners, the septic system is an enigma. As a result, they blindly follow recommendations found online for maintaining that tank. When that maintenance is done improperly, it can actually slow the septic system down or lead to a backup and complete system failure. That's why we created this site. Our goal is to help homeowners understand how to properly care for their septic system to keep it functioning properly. We hope the information here helps you to care for yours.

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