How often should my Septic Tank be emptied?

August 26, 2019

Emptying a septic tank reduces the likelihood of spills that can impact on the environment and local wildlife, as well as reduce the risk of damage to your soakaway or filtering method. Septic tank emptying is also crucially important to remove any indigestible solids and sludge material that can cause blockages and reduce the flow of wastewater away from your property.

Emptying your septic tank is crucial for its safe and efficient functioning, but without professional advice, you may be left wondering how often you should be carrying out this task. To help you, the team here at WJ Drainage have put together a guide with all the information you need on how often to empty your septic tank.

A general rule of thumb

As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that you have your septic tank emptied roughly once a year, although if you live alone or in a very small household, you may get away with having your septic tank emptied bi-annually if, for some reason, you can’t get around to having your tank professionally emptied.

But I’ve been told that a good system won’t need emptying?

It’s a common misconception that a septic tank won’t need emptying if it’s in good condition and you take care of it, but this simply isn’t true. While taking care to avoid putting indigestible materials down the toilets or drains and keeping on top of maintenance will certainly ease the pressure on your tank, it should still be emptied to  keep it in the best possible condition and running efficiently. Just because your tank isn’t full to the brim does not mean that you don’t need to empty it.

The aim is to empty your tank before it begins to cause drainage problems for your property, and not wait until you notice the signs and then deal with the issue!

The science

Your septic tank works on a perfectly balanced pH scale that allows tiny microorganisms and bacteria to break down your waste to be safely disposed of, and if you go without cleaning and emptying your tank, you begin to alter the conditions within the septic tank that slow down the rate in which the organisms work, resulting in a slower system that is more likely to develop blockages and buildups.

Tests performed by accredited drainage experts have shown that if the tank is filled as little as 8% by solid waste then you begin to counteract the system’s digestive processes, so it is important that you frequently empty your tank, even if you don’t think it’s full enough to warrant needing emptied.

Things to bear in mind

As we said earlier, cleaning your septic tank annually is a good rule of thumb to follow. There are, however, some circumstances that could change how frequently you will need to have a professional empty your tank. These include:

  • Amounts of food waste, fats, oils, rubber and plastic items and sanitary wear regularly ending up in the septic tank (if you are guilty of this, step away from the plumbing and find a bin right now!)
  • Bleach, pesticides and other cleaning products being disposed of down sinks that could alter the pH levels of the tank (again, this should be avoided!)
  • The size of your tank
  • Water usage at your property
  • Amount of people using the facilities
  • Leaky taps or cisterns that can affect the levels of the tank
  • The weather – torrential rain or heavy snowfall can overload the drainage field and prevent the tank from emptying
  • Tank age and condition

If you’d like to have your septic tank emptied, or need some expert advice on whether your tank needs emptying yet, contact feel free to give us a call; it’s better to be safe than sorry!
WJ Drainage offer high quality, fast and efficient septic tanks cleaning, maintenance and repairs alongside our other professional drainage services. Our team are highly trained and fully accredited to carry out any drainage service you may need. Get in contact today for more information; we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can. 

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