Septic Tank question

Our septic tank backed up. Popped the top and a think "cake" floated on top of the first chamber. when moved away from the inlet the clog eased. we had the pumping done. but you know the first chamber was not full. It had only been three years since pumping. when we bought the place. The question is what caused this floating mass? It seems full of air. Could an exceptionally wet year, 163% of normal could be the cause?
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Crusader george wrote:

is about 2-3 years anyway, some do it annually.
If you consider this to be too often to pump, then you need to CLOSELY examine what you put down the drains. You need to closely examine the cleaning solutions used in tubs and tiolets. Remove the food disposal if it is still in place. Wipe all dishes clean into the trash before using the dishwasher
Web searches turn up LOTS of useful info on this topic
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wrote:

What he said. ALthough I'm mildly curious, was the dross blocking the OUTFLOW or the inflow? And what happened to the baffle? My cess-pit has a down-turned bend at the outflow pipe, so you'd have to have around 24" of scuz as the top layer, before it started blocking fluid-flow. The stuff that exits the pit comes from about 1/4 of the way down.
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I drove a septic truck many yrs. ago and I heard an awful lot of stories similar to yours. First, 3 yrs could be too long to wait to have your tank pumped. This all depends on the size of the tank, size of family, and many other variables. And the heavy rains probably did contribute to your problem. But the biggest mistake made by homeowners with septic tanks is waiting until they have a problem until the pump their tank. DO IT BEFORE YOU NOTICE SLOW MOVEMENT! Otherwise you are clogging up your finger system.
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The purpose of the tank is to separate the waste into three distinct layers:
- scum (top layer)
- liquid (middle layer)
- sludge (bottom layer)
ONLY the middle layer (liquid) is supposed to flow out the tank's effluent pipe and into your drain field. To make this happen, the tank has either a) baffles or b) downpipe at the effluent end. The baffles or downpipe prevent the floating scum from entering and blocking the effluent pipe.
You must pump your tank BEFORE the scum layer gets so thick that it gets into the effluent pipe. The other thing that can happen is that the sludge layer (bottom layer) builds up so high that it gets into the effluent pipe.
The scum layer is caused by grease, soap, hair, and other things. The sludge layer is mostly decomposing poop, and dirt.
When the guy comes to pump your tank, he should work the hose to remove the top scum layer while it is still floating, before sucking out the liquid and sludge. If he just sticks the hose all the way down and walks away while it is pumping, you're not getting a quality job. The scum will settle down into the sludge and won't get completely removed.
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