Septic Tank – How Do I Empty My Septic Tank? – Answered By D.C. Merrett
Septic tanks are meant to be emptied after a regular use since solid waste cannot be processed. Once a septic tank has been used for a year so, the solid waste builds up where it can’t be compacted anymore. This is the when your septic tank should my emptied. Septic tanks are built to last but only with the proper maintenance & emptying. Once the tank fills up, there is nowhere for the excess solid waste which can damage your septic tank system which could mean a very expensive repair, not to mention the potential biohazard from spilling waste. This could also result in fines from the council since they have strict regulations on how septic tanks are maintained. If you’re asking yourself, how do I empty my septic tank? then you’ve come to the right place!
Septic tanks are expensive investments but are worthwhile as there is really no alternative solution to modern style in-house plumbing. It’s really important that the tank is serviced & maintained properly. This ensures the smooth operation of the tank. Regular maintenance ensures your tank is working efficiently, decreasing the chance of any problems you may have from neglected tanks. Depending on the size of tank you have, you should ideally empty your tank on an annual basis, however, this depends on how big your tank is as well as how many people are using the tank in your home.
How do I maintain a septic tank?
Maintaining a septic tank does mean being reasonable with your water usage. Learning not to leave taps on or overusing your washing machine are key to not overusing your septic tank system. If you find that you’re having problems with flushing or water pressure then your septic tank system needs to be checked immediately. Pouring grease or solid waste like food is also a big no-no since this will cause unnecessary strain on your septic tank. It’s hard at first since you have to think about so many things but it’s just being considerate of the system that is in your home.
Emptying a septic tank
A well designed septic tank should have the capacity to store up to a years worth of sludge. As long as the tank is matched to the home’s inhabitants. Frequency of septic tank emptying will always depend on the capacity of the tank though, so if you’ve moved into a home with an old tank then you may have to look at upgrading your tank.
When should I empty my septic tank?
- A big sign that you need to have your septic tank emptied is if your washing machine or toilet starts becoming slow. If your toilet flush is weak and you can’t find any other reason for it then you should get your septic tank checked by a professional company as soon as possible. Waste is pushed through your plumbing into the septic tank, which is separated as it enters the tank. The solids will sink to the bottom of the tank, which is usually the sludge that needs to be emptied. It’s this solid waste that will cause problems if it overfills the tank. When the level of sludge raises too high drainage issues can arise which results in major problems. If this sludge is left to fill the tank then the cost to repair your septic tank can be incredibly high.
- Another sign that your septic tank is blocked is when you can see “overflow” on the ground. It’ll be really obvious if the tank is overfilling as you will notice the foul smell that is coming from the ground. You may also notice waterlogged areas where the drainage field would be since the liquid waste has nowhere to go which results in too much liquid being pumped into the drainage field. Again, if you spot this happening to your septic system then you should contact a professional company straight away from leaving this any further will mean huge costs to repair it.
What is the average size of a septic tank? / What size septic tank do I need?
The main point of emptying your septic tank is to “de-sludge” it before any problems start. It’s always best to maintain & service something so that it doesn’t break, rather than waiting for something to break which always results in drastic measures and cost. You can save a lot of money by being considerate of the future and emptying your septic tank before it fills.
If you are looking to pump your septic tank, a good way to base your schedule of emptying is asking the providers who installed your tank how quickly the tank is going to fill. They will most often give you the best advice on emptying a septic tank since they are the ones who are installing septic tanks for a living. This will give you a general idea of when you need to empty your tank to avoid any problems developing in the future. If you can’t get a rough estimate from a septic tank company then it’s a safe bet to do it on an annual basis if you are living in an average household (3/4 people in a home).
Below we have a chart featuring an estimate of the size of septic tank for a number of bedrooms for home. It’s always nice to hedge your bets by having a bigger septic tank than you need. This will also extend the intervals between “de-sludging” your tank.
|People In Property||Minimum size in litres|
|2 to 4||2720 Litres|
How often do you have to clean out your septic tank?
When it comes to septic tanks, preventing a problem is always better than facing it when it becomes a problem. You can’t be too careful with a septic tank and it’s maintenance so if you think for whatever reason your tank needs emptying, consult an expert and have them de-sludge your tank! Doing this on a regular basis is much more affordable & less disruptive than having to have your entire tank system replaced. Regular emptying is much cheaper than a repair once it overfills and makes a literal mess of everything. Overfilled tanks can be a huge hassle to repair, so it’s best to avoid problems like this.
How often do you need to pump a septic tank?
How regularly you empty your septic tank will depend on how much you are using it. It will all depend on how many people are living in your home, as well as how many appliances you are using at the time. A general rule of thumb is 600-700 litres of capacity per person. This means a household homing 4 people would have to have a 2720 litre tank. This is only an estimate, however, so you’re mileage may vary off of these sizes.
How long does it take to fill up a septic tank?
A family of 4 will fill a 2500+ litre tank in a year or so. This means that septic tank emptying should occur on an annual basis. This is according to two adults & two children, with normal household appliances like a washing machine & dishwasher. How long your own septic tank takes to fill depends on you, since your use will differ from others. Take a brief look at your own needs, and see if you’re going to be using more water than other households.
Do all homes have a septic tank?
Not all homes will have a septic tank, as they are usually seen in rural homes that aren’t connected to sewer lines. You may see septic tanks in suburban areas but this depends on when and where they’re built. If you’re being charged for wastewater then that’s usually a good indication you don’t have a septic tank. However, the wastewater billing does not automatically mean the house is connected to a sewer. Speak to the previous home-owners/tenants or the property manager if you are unsure!
Do you need to empty a septic tank?
Septic tanks are in constant use since all water used in your home will end up going through the tank. If maintained properly, septic tanks should hold waste for up to a year or so. De-sludging is an essential preventative measure since your tank will end up filling. Solid waste will build up which has to be empty if you want your tank to work properly. We recommend emptying/de-sludging every year or so, however, this can vary depending on the size of your tank and the number of people living in your home.
Can septic tanks freeze?
Your average septic tank shouldn’t freeze since the soil around it usually acts as an insulator so it still retains heat. The pipes connected to your septic tank, however, can freeze. This can cause malfunctions & damage to the tank.
How do I stop my septic tank from freezing?
Septic tanks shouldn’t generally freeze since the tanks themselves are insulated from the harsh temperatures from the metres of soil surrounding it. The pipes that connect your home’s plumbing to the tank can freeze in prolonged icy condition. Wrapping any metal pipes in insulative material or covering any exposed pipes in mulch, hay or straw to draw moisture away will prevent your pipes freezing up.
What do I do if my septic tank pipes have frozen?
Septic tank pipes can freeze up & cause blockages in the winter, so it’s good to know a septic tank repair service if this happens! A professional provider will take a look at the septic tank, providing a trained opinion on how to fix your tank. If anything needs repair, they should be able to do so on site.
Can I add anti-freeze to my septic tank?
Adding anti-freeze to a septic tank is not advised by most professional septic tank providers as the chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria in the tank. Any chemical additives are not advised as they tend to be detrimental to the actual function of the septic tank.
How often should my septic tank be emptied?
Septic tanks should be emptied at least on an annual basis, depending on how regularly it is used. It also depends on how many people are living in your home, since the number of people tends to indicate how quickly the tank will fill up.
You should aim to have your tank de-sludged every year or two since it depends on how many people are making use of the septic tank. The best way to use a septic tank is to not abuse the water in your home. Septic tanks are not designed to cope with huge amounts of liquids/waste so it’s important to not overuse your water. Using your washing machine/dishwasher numerous times a day for a year will undoubtedly strain your septic tank, so it’s advised you moderate your use of water heavy appliances.
Should septic tanks be emptied?
Septic tanks must be emptied in order to ensure proper function. If a septic tank isn’t emptied, it can lead to blockages, leakages & build up of pressures that the tank was never designed to hold. If you want to avoid any expensive repair costs then emptying your septic tank regularly is advised!
Will vinegar damage septic tank?
Vinegar isn’t strong enough to damage or kill the bacteria in the septic tank. A lot of “homebrew” cleaning recipes call for the use of vinegar, so you can rest easy with the knowledge that vinegar won’t cause any damage to your septic tank.
How do I care for my septic system?
We’ve written a few helpful tips if you are looking for ways to care for your septic system. Following these steps can be very useful as they are all ways of preventing unnecessary stress on the septic system, giving it the best chance to last for years.
Septic tank is an expensive but ultimately worthwhile investment. Tank maintenance, however, should not be taken lightly, as the correct maintenance needs to happen for it to remain functional. Septic tank cleaning is a vital process you need to arrange for your tank if you’ve had it over a few years. Sludge will build up to the point it blocks important pipes which will damage the internals of a tank. De-sludging can be done by any professional provider like D.C. Merrett.
Knowing what you’re flushing down the toilet/putting down the sink is also vital since grease, oils and other chemicals are a big no-no when it comes to septic tank disposal.
Signs you should empty your septic tank:
You’ll know when you need to empty your septic tank if you start seeing odd pressures with your water. If your toilet starts to flush quite sluggishly, it means that your septic tank is affecting your plumbing.
Another sign that your tank is blocked & damaged is a foul stench as solid waste starts to be pumped out into the drainage field. Your drainage field should only be dealing with liquid waste which can be absorbed into the surrounding soil. Solid waste is much harder to deal with and ends up literally fouling your drainage field (usually located in your garden somewhere)
Stop using unnecessary water
Septic tank systems are made to last as they are usually made from an industrial strength of plastic. However, the pumps/plumbing can only handle so much water at any one time. The tank needs to have time to separate the solids & liquids. It needs a chance to syphon the liquids into the drainage field. Too much liquid waste can force solid waste into the drain field, which is a huge health hazard.
Learning to use the right amount of water is great for many purposes. It’ll help you save money as well as helping to maintain your septic system.
Overusing the washing machine can cause major stress on a septic system. Several washes a day can result in hundreds of litres of water being pushed through the septic tank. Depending on your system, this can be a huge strain on the tank. The best approach, in this case, is a slower one, giving the tank time to process the water.
Protecting your tank.
If your tank’s installed somewhere where you park your car, you shouldn’t do so once it’s installed. Doing so is a huge concern as it can damage the pipes as well as the tank. You can’t place anything heavy above the tank like concrete slabs as this will block access to the tank. This will also damage the tank as it isn’t designed to hold much weight. This will also cause odd pressure in the tank, which will affect the liquid being pushed to the drainage field.
The waste you flush can also damage your tank, as things like kitchen grease can clog your system. Things like cleaning chemicals will also kill the bacteria that consume the solid waste. This will end up with your tank filling up much quicker as your solid waste isn’t being broken down.
Non-biodegradable waste causes blockages since these foreign objects aren’t broken down. Plastics and other waste will cause clogs which stops the system from operating properly. This will cause major blockages which can’t be pumped out, increasing the chance of damage to your tank. A lot of people like to flush foreign objects. From cigarette stubs, cat litter to make up wipes, foreign objects like this won’t break down in the septic tank. The best way to avoid unnecessary damage to your septic tank is to throw these straight in the bin.
Cleaning out the tank
Emptying a septic tank may seem costly at first but compared to the cost of a septic tank repair or replacement, it’s nothing. If a lot of residents around your area have septic tanks you can talk to a provider about area discounts. This will end up saving you money in the long run.
The size of your tank will determine how regularly you need your tank emptied, so it’s best to consult with a professional on a proper maintenance plan to make sure you’re preventing any overfilling issues which can cause major issues & damage.
It’s also a great idea to have your tank serviced & inspected whilst it’s being emptied so that the professional company can spot any issues that may be a problem down the line.
If you are looking for a reliable company to de-sludge/empty/pump/drain your septic tank then D.C. Merrett is the provider for you. We have been providing reliable environmental services for years to the local areas. Our technicians have decades of experience between them so you know you are in good hands. Enquiring with D.C. Merrett means you’re enquiring with experience & expertise. Call our team on 01452 740782 or visit our page to learn more about our tank emptying services. We can also provide cesspit services & drain jetting. Our fleet of environmental vehicles is able to cater for any type of property. This means we can tailor our service to your exact needs, using specific equipment for your job!
Robin is a content producer for D.C. Merrett and has been writing for the company for years. Robin has a keen eye for bringing industry news to consumers in an easy to understand manner.