How Often Are Septic Tanks Emptied, And Where Do The Contents Go?

The most common cause of septic tank failure is neglecting to have your tank pumped on a regular basis. Fortunately, a little maintenance can go a long way in avoiding problems. Regular inspections and pumping can help ensure the proper maintenance and long-term functioning of your system. On average, your septic tank should be pumped every two to three years. The actual frequency of septic tank emptying depends on a number of factors including:

• Type, size and volume of tank
• Age or level of use and/or abuse of the system
• Volume of wastewater produced
• Condition of the septic tank drain field
• Amount of solids entering the system
The only way to know how often a tank needs to be pumped is to have a professional check the tank for signs such as high sludge levels, excessive scum buildup, and blocking of the inlet or outlet. Adding septic tank “additives” may actually harm the system and are not a substitute for tank pumping. Septic tanks can only be emptied by approved pumpers that are properly licensed. Generally, septic pumping involves a pump truck removing the sludge, effluent, and scum (collectively called septage) in the tank and leaving the tank empty and ready to be filled again.

Where does it go?
Septage is the material removed from a septic tank or pump chamber after pumping. It may have odor and be a host for many disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Once the waste is removed, it requires proper handling and treatment.
Federal, state, and local laws govern the final destination of the contents of your septic tank. In some cases, the septic contents are taken to municipal wastewater treatment plants for a fee. Land application is also a form of disposal of septic contents. In order to determine if land application is suitable, the following information must be known on the land: crop type, expected yields, previous crops, site acreage, soil organic matter levels, permeability, slope, setbacks, depth of seasonally high water, discharge rate of vehicle, width of application, level of PH, gallons and temperature of septage. Site specific records are reported to both local and state agencies daily.

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