Pumping Out the Septic Tank - Step by Step Procedure

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You probably already know that septic systems need to be inspected and pumped out regularly if you use one on your property. You need to pump out the accumulated contents every five years or less to guarantee proper functioning and safety. 

However, this might depend on the tank’s capacity and how much liquids flow into it from your house. Washing machines, toilets, bathrooms, sinks, and dishwashers generate liquid flow.

Pumping out your septic tank is a task that needs to be done by professionals because it holds many risks. Specific knowledge and equipment are required. However, as a homeowner, it is good to know what the process entails and what measures you need to take beforehand to ease and potentially speed up the process. 

This guide will talk about the step-by-step process of inspecting, pumping out, and cleaning your septic tank.

Step 1: Things to Do Before you get your Septic Tank Pumped 

First and most importantly, you will need to find the right septic system service provider in your area. You can search for such services online and see the company’s client reviews. You can additionally contact the company using the website contact form or phone number to receive more information on what to expect.

Secondly, it’s best to prepare a copy of your property plan to show to the pumper who comes to your house. A copy of your property plan includes the exact locations of the septic tank system and the drain field. Doing so will speed up the process.

Lastly, check for any previous maintenance records of the septic system. Service providers usually include information about previous issues and the taken measures, dates of inspection and levels of the septic system. 

Providing the company with such information will ease their job and help them fully understand what is necessary to be done.

Step 2: Safety Precautions

Pumping out a septic tank is a dangerous procedure that might cause injuries or release of methane gas. Only a trained professional sole operator with special equipment should perform it using a pumper truck.

Basic safety precautions for such procedures include always having a second person for help and avoiding leaning over or crouching down over the tank hole. 

Since the methane gas concentration in septic tanks is exceptionally high, entering or falling through the opening can be extremely dangerous and fatal.

The safety precautions you must remember at all times are the following:

  • Always mark and limit access to dangerous sites
  • Keep children and pets away from the area
  • Always ensure safe tank covers
  • Never lean over a septic tank hole
  • Never ignite flames near the tank
  • Never work alone and always have a second person with you
  • If someone falls, do not enter to help them. Instead, call for emergency help
  • Never enter a septic tank without special gear and training
  • Always work in ventilated areas

Step 3: Accessing the Septic Tank Through Opening the Lids

When the septic service provider arrives at your property, please provide them with the aforementioned plans. They will locate the tank, no matter if your septic system has one or two compartments. Each compartment’s lid needs to be opened and uncovered. 

If you do not have the plans ready, the pumper needs to inspect the ground surface using a “septic tank probe” tool. 

They use this tool to locate buried drain lines, find the tank, mark the margins and get to the lid. If there’s grass and soil over the cover, the company will need to dig it to access the content below.

If you haven’t replaced the lids in a long time, the operators may notice corrosion or disintegration. In that case, they might advise you to invest in replacing them for safety reasons.

Step 4: Pumping Out the Septic Tank

Your service provider will send a vacuum pumper truck and sole operators to pump out your septic tank. The operators use a high-power hose to extract all liquids, debris, waste and solids from the compartments. One end of the hose stays inside the tank compartment and sucks out the content while the other end connects to the truck. 

Before the process begins, the pumper will check the liquid level in the tank relative to the outlet pipe. A lower liquid level indicates a leak, while a higher level indicates a drain field problem.

After the lids of all compartments are opened, and there is direct access to the tank, the operator may use a muckrake to stir the content. They do this to break the floating scum layer and sludge to aid the pumping process.  

Step 5: Inspecting and Washing Out the Tank

After the septic service provider finishes pumping out all liquids and solids from the tank departments, he has the perfect opportunity to execute step five. 

The pumpers visually inspect the interior and exterior parts of the septic system, which is necessary to detect any unwanted root interference, deterioration, and corrosion of materials. After extracting the main content, they thoroughly wash out and clean any residual waste.

Step 6: Closing of the Lids and Reburrying

In contrast to step three – Accessing the septic tank through opening the lids, now is time to reverse the process. After the tank has been thoroughly cleaned, the specialists will close all the open tops, preventing falling and injuries. 

In addition, they will put back all the soil and grass that they had previously removed to access the tank.

Step 7: Making Plans for Future Maintenance

What follows after septic tank pumping? Your septic service provider will give you a maintenance record from their visit. Make sure to keep it safe and preferably together with any previous records.

It is possible that he talks to you and educates you on the right ways of maintaining a septic system and makes plans for future evaluation. Generally, it is preferable to set a regular pumping schedule based on your property size and septic system use.