We have a three year old home with a new three year old septic system. We
live in the AZ desert with typical desert soil. There are only two adult
permanent residences and the occasional visitor.
We've heard many stories varying from, "we have our septic system pumped
every 4 years", to "we've had our septic system for 30 years and have never
had to have it pumped".
Obviously, usage must have something to do with the need to pump out the
system. We have the typical bathroom waste and use biodegradeable toilet
paper, and take showers rather than tub baths. We have an automatic
washing machine and a dishwasher. We do not have a garbage disposal.
I certainly want to avoid any potential problems, but at the same time, I
don't want to spend money when I don't have to.
All opinions/comments welcome.
~~ If there\'s a nit to pick, some nitwit will pick it. ~~
On Sun, 20 Sep 2009 18:51:41 GMT, Wayne Boatwright
Have it pumped. The operator can tell you approximately how much
sludge was in the tank(s). If it's not too much, wait five years next
time...and so on. This way you are basing the decision on how well
your system is performing with your ah--ingredients. A couple hundred
bucks or less every few years is way cheaper than replacing the leach
field or sand bed.
The warter should take care of itself in the desert, the solids though
can fill the leech bed if the tank is neglected too long, so a
precautionary pump once in a while might be a good idea. I won't
propose a schedule, but every 10 years would seem like a reasonable
With just 2 people, I might have it checked around year 5, to establish
a baseline. If you don't mind the smell, you could even do it yourslelf.
Uncover the small lid, and poke a stick down there.
My place has 3 theoretical bedrooms, and a tank sized to match. I live
alone. I've been here four years, and will probably be here maybe 3-4
more. I might have it pumped when I put it on the market, just so the
realtor has a fresh report to show. (I know, buyer usually has to get
I'd look into a HE clothes washer. They dump MUCH less water into your
system. We have a Whirlpool Duet and it has worked flawlessly for over 6
years now. If water costs as much in AZ as it does here (Austin) it would be
I'd have it pumped. With just wife and I, we get ours pumped every 3-4
years. Costs a lot less than municipal sewage system and gives you the
peace of mind that you won't clog your drain field if solids overflow.
The first pump can tell you how much non-degradable sludge and grease
Adjust the next pump by that. If your sludge pile goes all the way to
the bottom, solids will begin to flow out to the leach field with the
water and plug it up. Some people could go 30 years without needing a
pump, others would need one in 5 years. Also depends on the size of the
We are about like you (two people). I had our 1000 gallon tank pumped after
7 years. It was a waste of money, only 5-10 gallons of sludge. I made a
note to have it pumped in another 10 years but I'll probably wait at least
15, maybe 20. Maybe never.
Very little goes into a septic tank - or, very little *should* go - that
doesn't liquify. Additives are of no value as you are adding plenty of
bacteria to those already in the tank everytime you take a dump.
The house I grew up in was built around 1899. It was/is a huge house
that had, until recently, 4 to 12 people living in it. The septic tank
was never touched for 100 years. After 100 years, the township put a
sewer line through and we had to hook up to the municipal sewer.
Got Change: General Motors ======> Government Motors!
My house was built nearly 200 years ago, but the current septic system is
from the 1950s. When I bought the place in 1985 I was told to have it pumped
every 5 years. I had it pumped in 1990 and the guy said I could probably
wait 10 the next time, since there are only two of us. I had it pumped again
in 2000, and was told not to bother again until 2015. That's the current
However, since it only costs $99 to have it pumped it's certainly not
prohibitively expensive to have it done every 10 years or so.
Not a recommendation Wayne, more like a "it depends":-)
My dad told me the guy that built the house told him he would never have
to touch the septic tank, and he was right. I also know of people that
have to have tanks pumped out on a regular basis. 100 years is probably
unusual, but I have no experience in the field other than our house. I
guess if it's done right, and large enough, it should need little or no
maintenance over a lifetime.
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In our last house, we only pumped the tank when we were asked by the
buyer. We lived there 15 years and never did a thing. It was all good
and really didn't need pumping then.
If it isn't broke, don't fix it.
Depends on what you dump down it and how big the tank is. We (2 adults) have
it pumped every 10 years. Each time the guy comes out he says, "Wow, you
didn't really need it". Since it only costs $100 ($10/year) who cares that
"we didn't need to do it"? I consider it money extremely well spent.
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