The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How frequently should you empty a septic tank?  (Read 10288 times)

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« on: 30/09/2009 02:55:45 »
One of the "advantages" of living in the country is owning a septic tank (nothing to do with rhyming slang). There are many schools of thought on how often the "sludge" should be removed. What's the right answer?

(We're having ours emptied tomorrow. Must remember to keep the windows closed  [xx(])



Oh my gawd! What's that 'orrible pong?
« Last Edit: 30/09/2009 07:14:33 by Geezer »


 

Offline Mazurka

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 510
    • View Profile
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #1 on: 30/09/2009 09:16:16 »
It depends...
on inputs - volumes of water and solids and on the type of cleaning products used.  The types of solid waste are also important - cotton buds and other products that breakdown slowly/ not at all can fill a tank up quicker than necessary.  Some people also swear by occasionally adding fertiliser to give the bugs a boost.

on size - bigger tank or Imhoff (sp?) two stage types need less frequent emptying.

on temperature - warmer tank = happier bugs.  Happier bugs = better digestion.  It follows that the depth that a tank is installed at particularly in areas subject to hard winters can be important.

on the outlet - if there is a problem with outlet such that the discharge does not flow away freely, this can retard the anaerobic process. (There is also a potentially more pressing need for getting this sorted out.  This is why when installing a new tank a decent contractor will carry out a number of "percolation tests" and try to determine whether there is any significant water table in the superficial deposits that the tank will sit in.   

on local rules and regulations - I understand that in the the US some public health boards set a mandatory frequency for emptying.

A septic tank that is working well should not give rise to significant odour if it stinks regularly then there might be a problem with the inputs, if malodour is only periodic (and the sludge level seems quite high) that is the time to get it emptied.

To settle an argument about my own tank, I ended keeping a "log" book (pun intended) of approximately how many flushes and how many washing machine loads etc. went in, against how many times it was pumped out.  The previous owners had it done every six months but I got that down to once every 2 1/2 years...
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #2 on: 30/09/2009 16:31:45 »
I wonder if anyone makes some sort of monitoring device so you can tell what's going on without having go through the motions of removing the lid etc?

The nice man from the "Royal Flush" septic sucking service suggests sucking septics every five years. Seems reasonable. He could easily have told me every two years if he wanted to increase his cash flow, and I'd probably have believed that too.
« Last Edit: 01/10/2009 06:24:51 by Geezer »
 

Offline Dmaier

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #3 on: 01/10/2009 10:53:24 »
We have a septic tank and the septic tank companies say u must empty it every 2-3 years
 

Offline Wastetech

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
    • Crystal Tanks
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #4 on: 20/10/2009 16:33:52 »
Here in the UK we are advised to empty our septic tanks annually.  It states in our Building Regulations that septic tanks should be emptied at least once every 12 months to avoid soakaway and drainfield clogging, however, our tanks are slightly smaller than those in the USA.  A 4 person tank here is only 717 US Gallons.
newbielink:http://www.wte-ltd.co.uk [nonactive]
« Last Edit: 21/10/2009 11:03:37 by Wastetech »
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #5 on: 22/10/2009 01:29:43 »
Thanks to all for the good advice and information. The cost of pumping here is not too great, so it's probably better to opt for sooner rather than later. I suppose in the end, deciding the right pumping frequency is a bit of a crap shoot.
 

Offline Nizzle

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 964
  • Thanked: 1 times
  • Extropian by choice!
    • View Profile
    • Carnivorous Plants
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #6 on: 28/10/2009 09:48:57 »
I don't know exactly what kind of septic tank you guys have, but my parents haven't had theirs sucked like, ever.
And it's been there for about 15-20 years...

They also don't have any problems with it, so it's not like they're lazy or something, they just don't see the need for it.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #7 on: 12/11/2009 20:42:56 »
Blimey!

I bought a house once and I'm pretty sure the previous owners, who had lived in it for a long time, never had the septic system sucked. Guess what - it started acting up about two years after I bought it, and when I sold the house, I had to give the buyers $5,000 to have the system completely rebuilt.

In retrosect, I should have insisted on a thorough inspection of the system before I bought the house. However, I trusted a lot of people, and, as usual, I got screwed!

Moral:  If you are spending a lot of money, DO NOT TRUST ANYONE. Get a good lawyer.

Note that I did not follow my own advice on the purchase of our next house. We got screwed on that deal too - and it cost a heck of a lot more that $5,000. The only good news is that we don't plan to buy any more houses.
« Last Edit: 13/11/2009 05:53:21 by Geezer »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

How frequently should you empty a septic tank?
« Reply #7 on: 12/11/2009 20:42:56 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length