Septic Tank Question

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Country Lady, May 14, 2006.

  1. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Our home has a 1750 gallon septic tank. It's just me and "Bubba Can Dance" that live in our home, but it's probably more like 4 people occupy our home, with kids and guests coming and going on weekends. We've been in our home almost 5 years now and have never had the tank pumped. The drains show no signs of needing to be pumped, but I was wondering if we should have it pumped before it starts needing it. How often do you have yours pumped?
     
  2. sleeps

    sleeps east texas dark egg layer

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    as long as u add microbes once a month and keep most of the grease from goin down the drain u shouldn`t need to have it pumped
     

  3. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Don't waste your money on septic tank additives. You add all the "microbes" your septic tank needs everytime you go #2. Don't wait for a problem before you get your tank pumped. By the time a problem arrives, it's often too late to "fix" it by pumping the tank. If its been five years, my advice would be to have the tank pumped. Ask the pumper how it looked after he's finished. If the septage was thin, and was way below the outlet baffle, perhaps you can wait longer than five years next time. If you wait too long to have tank pumped, solids can spill over to the drainfield and plug it. Once the drainfield is plugged there's little you can do about it other than having a new drainfield installed. If you saved $2 per month for the past five years, you'd have the amount of money needed to have the tank pumped (and it would be cheaper than buying additives).
     
  4. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would be 180 degrees different than Sleeps.

    In MN the law states you need to pump it at least every 3 years, more if needed....

    How often it _really_ needs it depends on the size of the tank, and the amount of use it gets.

    Laundry dirt, grime from your hands, fibers, hair, and so foth don't decompose. Thete is always a little ash residue even from things that do decompose.

    These things will build up. Over time - could be one year, could be 25 years - it will fill your tank.

    When the tank is full, your septic no longer does it's digestion, but 'everything' just flows out to the drain lines. These lines will clog up with the gunk, and then it is all over - your drain field will not drain any more, & cheaper to build a new one than to try any type of repair.

    So, only a fool would _never_ pump their tank.

    The foo-foo dust is a waste of money.

    --->Paul
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I assume your house is 5 years old as is the septic system. If you wait until you see signs that you need your septic pumped it's waaaay too late for just pumping. the reason for pumping is to keep the drainfield from becoming clogged. Follow what Cabin Fever said and use your observation and the septic man's opinion as a baseline for future septic care. Dishwasher and laundry do the most to fill the septic with bad stuff.
     
  6. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Country Lady,

    You definately want to get it pumped. Every 3 years is the law in many states. We have been having ours pumped every year since buying our place. The previous owner hadn't pumped it in the 6 years he lived here. If the solids fill up the tank and compact down (to a solid) your system loses capacity. Eventually you could have a major problem.

    Mike
     
  7. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We get ours pumped every 3 years, it's cheap insurance on an expensive drain field. Which reminds me I should call tomorrow.
     
  8. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks everyone. Bubba Can Dance is going to check tomorrow about getting this done. Nope, don't want problems!
     
  9. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I thought I'd give an update on the septic clean out. We had it done today. We've been in the house about 4 1/2 years and the sludge was about 1 1/2 feet from the top, so we were still good for a little while longer. However, it was better to have it cleaned out a little too soon, than wait too late.
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the update. :) Nice to get those.

    --->Paul
     
  11. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    Yes thanks for the update Country Lady. Interesting to me to see how systems work!

    Heres my grandmothers story.
    She had the main line from the house stop up last year.We thought oh no the tank is full.Thats been one of her small fears for as long as i can remember.I didn't no anything about the gunk building up in the bottom of the tank.Impaction! They have to dig it out if you wait to long.Couldn't image what that might cost.I think it was almost 200 to have it pumped and was the best piece of mind we have had since.Heck id have pay for it myself sooner if i new thats all it would have cost.
    The reason we where so worried was the tank hadn't been pumped since my grandfather put it in 30+ years before.And there was only 100ft of field line put in.We also flush our toilet paper.But the laundry water empties into the yard.Several times theres been up to four people living there, for up to 5 years at the time.But its been only my grandmother for the last 7 or so.The solid sludge in the bottom of the tank was a little less than 1ft deep.The guy that pumped it couldn't believe it, when we told him it had never been pumped.He then understood why ever one was so fascinated by the pumping of the tank. :D
    Note we do have to do a repair to the tank.Old tanks used a baffle made out of concrete.It and the lids are all one piece.The rear baffle had fallen apart over time.So the guy switched the rear with the front lid to block the paper and solids from going down the field line.Had we not had it pumped and seen this the field line would have stopped up sooner or later.So later on this summer i plain to put an elbow on the over flow line Incas the other lids rots away later.

    She adds Rid-X once a year.Not sure if thats what kept it clean, or if maybe it was just the time it had to rest with less people living there.But im guessing her not haveing a dish washer, or any laundry going into it,helped it function better.Guess shes good for another 30 years or so. :D

    Its definitely a relief to no how your systems working.When you have it pumped.And it will give you some idea when it should be pumped again on a regular basis.Waiting to long could get real expensive.But pumping it to often isn't saving you anything either.It all depends on whats going into the system and how much of it.
     
  12. frugalville

    frugalville Well-Known Member

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    If you just had it pumped, it might be a good investment to have an effluent filter installed on the outlet baffle. Just a plastic removable filter, normally on a 3" or 4" pvc stand. (Not too expensive) In the event that something happens and the holding tank has a problem, this filter will block effluents from entering your drain field. (Which can lead to some costly issues.)

    Also use liquid detergents, not powder. Eventually they become solid again in your septic field. (and resemble concrete)- $$$$


    Best
     
  13. Richard6br

    Richard6br Well-Known Member

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    I can tell you from personal experience to get it pumped out. I listened to the old timers about " if your system is working correctly you should never need it pumped out". My wife was adding stuff to the system that she had heard about or seen advertised on TV. I only had mine pumped out once in 25yrs and the leach field is plugged up. I have one spot at the end on one of the leach lines that is leaking to the surface and is very foul. The person that pumped my tank just shook his head. He told me to always get the tank pumped out every 5yrs. Luckily we are getting public sewage in our area within the next 3 to 5yrs. I asked a friend of mine who has an excavating business what it would cost to install a new leach field, he laughed and said you don't want to know, his advise was to just wait until the public sewage goes in.
     
  14. Richard6br

    Richard6br Well-Known Member

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    Yea right, just another one of those old wives tales. Don't believe this "crap" for a second.
     
  15. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    I have watched debates over how often to pump a septic system and over the enzymes to add. It seems that everyone has their own opinion.

    I am installing a new system now. I have installed a 'pump-out' pipe; I punched a hole in the side of our tank and I added a 2inch pipe going down to within a foot of the bottom of the tank, with a screw on cap. Now I can attach a farm pump to that 'pump-out' pipe every time I feel like it and pump the tank dry out to a near-by pasture.

    I do agree that adding an effluent filter seems like a good idea though.

    :)
     
  16. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    May is a good time to add enzymes to your tank, while the weather is warm and moist.
     
  17. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Country Lady: Thanks for the update! A sludge level of 18 inches from the top of the tank is a very full tank. The tank should be pumped when the sludge level is no more than 12 inches from the bottom of the outlet baffle. The bottom of the outlet baffle is generally around 18 inches below the top of the tank. In your case, this would mean that your sludge level was about 6 inches above the bottom of the outlet baffle! That would mean that you should had your tank pumped a year or two ago. Are you sure the pumper didn't say that the sludge level was 12" below the outlet baffle?

    ET1 SS: where as a "pump out" line may seem like a good idea, I am skeptical as to how well it will allow you to get the solids and scum out of the system. Septic pumps have to open the manhole on the tank in order to properly break up the scum layer and stir up the sludge. Once the contents are in a homogenous slurry, they can pump the tank clean. Too often unscupulous septic pumps will simply drop a line down the 4-inch inspection pipe and pump the tank and pump out the liquid....most all of the sludge and scum will remain in the tank. I believe this will happen in your situation. Please don't get a false sense of security that you are effectively removing all the solids from your tank. At the very least, open the manhole to your tank every couple of years and check the sludge and scum levels.
     
  18. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was thinking the same thing. With livestock pits as well, one needs to stir it all up, before one pumps. Just sucking the liquids out will leave the chunky top layer - and the top chunky layer is what you really want to get out.

    --->Paul
     
  19. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    our septic system has never been pumped. we have lived here now for 10 years. The washer, shower and bath are not going into the septic system. We laid lines for it to go elsewhere in the back of woods. I do add microbes once a month and have noticed a big change in septic system as far as drainfield goes.
     
  20. RockyRooster

    RockyRooster Well-Known Member

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    forgot to mention that dishwasher water is taken out by hand and dumped. this way septic tank does not get it.