Septic Tank Pumping: The Basics

When your home has a septic system instead of a municipal sewer system hook-up, you must maintain the septic tank effectively for the system to operate at an optimal level. One of the primary maintenance jobs is having the tank pumped out when it's needed. The following article looks at what homeowners with septic tanks need to know about this topic.

How a Septic Tank Works

Your septic tank consists of three layers: a scum layer, a liquid layer, and a sludge layer. The scum layer on top consists of things that float on top of the water, such as fats, grease, and toilet paper. The liquid layer, or middle layer, consists of liquid and suspended solids, while the sludge layer is composed of materials that are denser than water and sink to the bottom of the tank.

When the tank is operating properly, the wastewater from the liquid, or middle layer, is then distributed to the drain field, the area where the waste is released into the soil, through a network of perforated pipes.

Signs That Pumping Is Required

If your tank becomes too full, you will typically see certain signs that indicate that it needs to be pumped out. For example, if your tub and sink drains are starting to drain more slowly than normal and the toilet is not flushing as thoroughly as it had been previously, this might be because the tank is too full. 

Unpleasant odors coming from your drains, toilet, or the drain field itself could also point to an overfull tank. Other signs of a problem include pooling water around the tank or in the drain field, sewage backing up into your home, and excessively lush grass growth over the drain field. If you notice any of these signs have a septic system professional inspect your tank as soon as possible.

The Cost of Septic Tank Pumping

The cost of having your septic tank pumped can range from $175 to $600, with an average cost of $400, according to the Angi website. The exact cost of a one-time pump depends on several factors, including the size of your tank and your geographic location. 


Experts recommend that you have your tank pumped out every three to five years. The exact interval might depend on how many people are in your household as well as the size of your tank. It's vital that you have the tank pumped out when it's needed because delaying this necessary maintenance task could lead to expensive repairs at a later time. For more information contact one of the septic pumping services near you.