In a traditional septic system, all water and wastes carried by that water flows down the home’s drain system and through one main sewer pipe to the septic tank. The septic tank is a water-tight container made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene and is buried in the ground in an area near the house. The flow of wastewater may be a matter of simple gravity, or it may be enhanced with an electric pump. The septic tank holds the waste material long enough for the solids to settle to the bottom as oil, grease, and liquids — the scum later — float to the top. When the tank reaches capacity, the liquids lying on top of the scum layer flow onward into a series of porous pipes to a drain field prepared with gravel and other aggregates that help disperse the liquid waste. The liquids slowly filter down through the soil as bacterial action breaks down the pathogens. By the time the liquid waste filters down to groundwater supplies, it is virtually sterile. Meanwhile, the solids in the tank break down under the effect of anaerobic bacteria, creating a sludgy material that collects in the bottom of the tank. If the bacterial action is effective, these solid wastes are greatly reduced in volume as they break down.
The EPA recommends that a septic tank should be inspected every two to three years, with mechanical pumping typically required every three to five years to empty the tank. Systems that are undersized or that see very heavy use may require pumping annually. Some systems have electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components, and these need to be inspected more often — typically once each year.
So What is Pumping and How Do I Know When to Get My Septic System Pumped
Pumping is the process of removing sludge from the bottom of the septic tank, and this needs to be done before the sludge builds up to a level where it blocks the outlet pipe through which liquids flow into the drain field. The frequency with which this needs to be done depends on a number of factors:
1) Size of household: Larger households, predictably, generate more waste, and thus fill up the septic tank faster.
2) How much wastewater is generated: The sheer volume of wastewater flowing into the septic tank can affect how fast the septic tank fills up.
3) The volume of solids in the wastewater: Households with many toilets, or those who make frequent use of garbage disposals, tend to fill up the septic tank quicker.
4) Septic tank size: Larger tanks can hold more solid sludge, and therefore will need less frequent pumping.
There are ways to help estimate when you should have your tank pumped. An average four-bedroom house may have a 1,200 to 1,500-gallon tank and with a family of four, you should expect to have the tank pumped every 3 to 5 years with typical use.
If you have a septic service professional who inspects your septic tank regularly, they will tell you when it’s time to pump out the sludge from the tank. Generally, this is when the floating scum layer that lies between the sludge and the floating water is within about 6 inches of the outlet pipe leading to the drain field.
CERT Who Are They and What Do They Do
Carolina Environmental Response Team (CERT) is a privately owned company that specializes in environmental services. Quickly evolving into a full-service environmental solutions company CERT is recognized as one of the leaders in Emergency Spill Response, Hazardous Waste Management & Disposal, Industrial & Environmental Remediation, UST Removal, and Bio Hazard & Facility Services. CERT embraces the ideology of the modern-day Green Movement that suggests that a solid foundation of the environment is in direct correlation with public policy and individual behavior, centered on ecology, health, and human rights. Based out of Charlotte, NC, one of the services offered by CERT is Septic Tank Pumping. Visit CERT’s website to see all the services that are offered.