How necessary is septic tank pumping? Treatment?

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I have a house that was built new in '88. I've never had the septic tank pumped, never put any of these treatments in it. Never had any problems with it to date. For the most part, after the ex vamoosed around '90, I've been the sole user.
Is pumping the tank periodically necessary? Is there any benefit to using any type of septic tank treatment? I was under the impression that the bacteria that's in there is supposed to be self sustaining.
Thanks for all shared wisdom
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Put nothing in the septic tank that hasn't been thru you. Skip the gimicky treatments. If you have a garbage disposal use it sparingly. Use liquid laundry detergent.
There are charts that suggest when a septic system should be pumped. It's based on family size and tank capacity.
I'd definately get it pumped after 17 years, even with one user.
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On 1 Sep 2005 16:28:36 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote Re Re: How necessary is septic tank pumping? Treatment?:

Ditto on that.
--
To email me directly, remove CLUTTER.


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:I have a house that was built new in '88. I've never had the septic tank : pumped, never put any of these treatments in it. Never had any problems : with it to date. For the most part, after the ex vamoosed around '90, I've : been the sole user. : : Is pumping the tank periodically necessary? Is there any benefit to using : any type of septic tank treatment? I was under the impression that the : bacteria that's in there is supposed to be self sustaining. : : Thanks for all shared wisdom : : : If it's working fine after all those years especially don't worry about it. A properly used and maintained septic system does not require pumping. Apparently you or whoever have been good users.
Personally I think using one of the tank bacterial treatments are a good idea, just in case some soap or other liquid that kills off the bacteria gets into it, or at least there should be some on hand, but if it's working well, don't worry about pumping it. We haven't had ours pumped since 1983, but we do use treatments once a month, just for the heck of it. We were a family of 4 til the kids left, now it's just the two of us. The ONLY problem we've ever had with it was once when the stand pipe managed to get frozen shut so it couldn't let air in to assist the flushing. The rain cap had fallen off and was letting freezing rain go down the pipe. Thawed it out and it went right back to proper working. You're right, the normal bacteria can keep a septic system working properly.
HTH, Pop
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wrote:

you have a problem, you have the potential for a BIG problem.
The purpose of pumping is to remove the solids that are not digested by the bacteria. Even a perfectly operating system that is not stressed by putting the wrong types of things into it will gradually build up undigested solids. If these are not removed by pumping, you run the risk that they will rise high enough in the tank to be carried into the leach field. The leach field is a big series of pipes connected to the outlet of the tank. Normally, only water and liquid wastes flow out these pipes, where they disperse into the ground harmlessly.
If the solids, which are by their nature very fine, flow out with the drain water into the leach field, they can over time plug up the holes in the pipes, or saturate the leach field so it no longer drains properly. When this happens, the system can no longer drain liquid properly, and backs up. What's worse, by this point the damage is done, and just pumping the tank doesn't fix it, except for a few days or weeks. The only solution is to replace the leach field, which involves digging it up and either moving it to another location, or replacing all the soil in the field with soil that will drain properly. This is big bucks, a big mess, and big hassle.
If you want to save bucks on pumping, ask the septic guy to measure the solids level in the tank before he pumps it. If you know how fast the solids are building up, you can adjust how often you have it pumped to minimize the expense while not risking ruining your system.
But after 17 years, you are almost certainly way overdue.
HTH,
Paul
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Paul Franklin wrote:

Excellent explanation of the need for pumping. I have mine pumped every 5 years and there are only 2 of use. I will add one thing.
Forget about adding the snake oil treatments - they aren't needed. Of course if it makes you feel better to toss money away on unecessary junk...
Harry K
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On 9/1/2005 10:11 PM US(ET), Harry K took fingers to keys, and typed the following:

From the Virginia Department of Health page at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/onsite/text/folklore.htm
"Some of the solids in the tank are sand, grit, bits of plastic and similar materials. No enzyme or bacteria can digest these. Other organic solids are not very digestible. Hence they accumulate. Bacteria that are added must compete with bacteria that are adapted to living in your septic tank. These adapted bacteria have the home field advantage. The newly added organisms can't compete and become dinner for the resident organisms. Enzymes on the other hand are not living and cannot reproduce. Whatever is added to the tank is all that will ever be there. Most septic tanks are 1,000 gallons or larger and the quantity of enzymes added are too low to be helpful.
In short, adding enzymes or bacteria usually won't cause a problem but they won't help either. The solution is simple. Pump your tank every three to five years. This solution is easy, safe, and often cheaper than buying septic tank additives."
--
Bill


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Doc wrote:

fill up and the top will fill and you will start getting stuff flowing into the drain field. That can plug the field but it might not, all depending on composition of the drain field, how wet you keep it (how much you are using), temperature, etc. With only one guy, no feminine pproducts (which shouldn't be flushed anyway) it will take a long time. At our house, one woman, one man, and one kid, we had ours pumped the first time after 8 years. There wasn't much there and the pumper, smiled, and said, "See you in another 10 years." The next time we had it pumped, there wasn't much there either. So you could easily go 15 years or so, but then you might not.
We put yeast in ours once in the early years (about year 2, I think). Supposedly helps, but I doubt it. Just to be careful you could put bacteria in ever so often, especially after long vacations (no use) but certainly not more than once a year. Probably won't do any good, but......
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do you have to put bugs in it: no do you have to get it pumped out once every 5 years or so: yes
you will not know something is wrong untill it is too late, and a dead septic/leech field is a big problem; you might have to move out of your house (or get tank pumped once a week untill leech field is fixed).

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Doc wrote:

that tanks be pumped every three years. We are in a lake community where septic problems could mess up the lake for a lot of people, so EVERYBODY has to be careful.
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wrote:

Don't fix what ain't broke.
Don't ever pump until you spot problems..
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Sherman wrote:

Very bad advice. By the time you spot problems your field is probably shot.
Harry K
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Gosh, that's a great philosophy. You probably don't brush either until you have pain in your teeth.
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wrote (with possible editing):

It all depends upon what you put into it. If you can keep all detergents and solids out of it and only put in human waste, then the chances are fairly good that you will never have to pump it. What you should do is, as someone else mentioned, is to check the amount of solids. If there are none, then you won't have to pump.
Here, we managed to divert almost all gray water and don't have a kitchen sink disposal. We do have a dishwasher connected to it (but use a biodegradable detergent), but the showers and laundry do not connect. We have had our tank checked twice in the last 31 years, and each time there were essentially no solids and it did not require pumping.
If you a washing machine connected, then you probably will need to have it pumped. It is VERY important to see that solids never plug the leach field as others have mentioned.
Additives, such as enzymes or bacteria are not needed - you're right, the bacteria IS self sustaining.
--
Larry
Email to rapp at lmr dot com
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<stuff snipped>

Where do you divert it to?
-- Bobby G.
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On Sat, 3 Sep 2005 04:03:02 -0400, "Robert Green"

Up here it's known as a dry well. It is basically a large (maybe 6' diameter by 20') cylinder made out of cinder block with holes in it. It is placed on gravel and there is a large concrete cover over it. It is located over 150' from both the well and septic system. That's been in place for over 30 years as well, but it's never been checked, however nothing ever seems to back up from it.
--
Larry
Email to rapp at lmr dot com
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wrote:

Actually, it will eventually back up at the exact wrong time.
For instance, you have guests in for holidays or you have guests for an event like a wedding or shower. I can guarantee that is when it will happen. So go ahead and pump it out the week before such an event.
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To summarize responses: septic tanks need periodic pumping, however, the "right" interval varies a lot from one installation to another. In some, it could be decades. And in another, as short as a year.
Your best bet is to get it pumped once, and see how much head/sediment there is, and compute the next time accordingly. The pumper will often give a suggested interval.
Look yourself - how much "hard" foam is there on top? You've waited too long if the pumper has to hack away at the foam layer to get the hose through.
Our governments all say that "additives" are a waste of money, and don't do anything useful.
Just don't put anything down it you shouldn't, pump it often enough to keep the foam or sediment plugging the outflow, and it'll be just fine.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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It's called "preventative maintenance" for a reason.
PM usually cost between 1% and 10% of the cost of the repair you are trying to prevent. If you own insurance, this should be a no-brainer. If you're concerned enough to ask about it now, buy yourself a little peace of mind and be happy its not a DIY job.
Living alone, you probably don't need to do it very often and I doubt you are flushing any tampons.

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Don't think of it as pumping your tank. Think of it as an inspection that comes with a free pumping.
--Goedjn
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