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To understand what is involved in septic tank pumping, it is first important to understand what a septic system is, what it does and how it works. A septic system is, very simply, an underground treatment system for household sewage. A typical septic system consists of 4 components: the pipe from the house, the septic tank, a drain field and the soil. Damage or malfunction of any of these components can cause the system to fail which can result in soil and drinking water contamination and costly repairs or replacements by the homeowner.

Contact Info:
Name: Billy Fowler
Email: info@asapadvancedseptic.com
Organization: ASAP Advanced Septic & Drainage, Inc.
Address: 5011 E Busch Blvd, Tampa, FL 33617
Phone: (813) 986-6070

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Cesspool Inspection When Buying a House

Septic Sytem Maintenance

If you wait until something has already gone wrong with your Septic System, you are probably too late to have any hope at fixing it yourself. But, if you can develop a plan of action on How to Detect and see Early Signs of "Septic Tank trouble," you may just prolong the life of your system and save yourself a ton of money!

Septic System's by State

¼ of all homes (approx. 28+ million) in the Nation are using a septic system. What percentage of homes in these state's use Septic System's:

  • 55% Vermont
  • 48% North Carolina
  • 40% South Carolina
  • 40% Kentucky
  • 10% California


How do I Know if I Have a Septic System?

The easiest way to determine if you actually do have a Septic System is to take a look at your water bill. You should find a line that reads something like "Sewer Amount Charged." If this line reads a $0.00 amount (and you are not operating an agriculture account) you most likely DO have a septic Tank.

How can I find out if I have a septic system:

  • Ask your landlord
  • Call your city or county water officials
  • Ask your home owner insurance Agent
  • Check with the title company that manages your property
  • Ask a Realtor friend to check for you
  • Contact previous owner
  • Ask neighbor's (if they have them you probably do too)
  • If your home water is from a well, you likely have a septic
  • After a frost you see a bare patch (septics generate heat as they decompose material which causes this patch) in the yard

How Does a Properly Maintained Septic System Work?

A properly maintained Septic System feeds waste water from your home into pipes that fan out into the drainage field (also known as a leach field because the fluids "leach" out of the pipes and into the soil). The remaining (heavy) waste material will settle to the bottom of the tank. It is this solid waste that can bring significant problems. You have to have it pumped out every year or so, for safe and proper disposal by a professional.

My Plumbing is Draining Slowly

If your drains are working slowly, or not at all, the main house drain may have a clog, or the septic system may be backed up. Check for clogs first, by clearing the main drain with a power auger (some power auger's attach to a drill, while others are self standing machines). You should never use chemical drain cleaners on a septic system as the enzyme's required for proper function will be destroyed. Fewer experts today say you should treat your system with an enzyme replacement agent, even if they do get advertised as a needed tool to keep the tank healthy and functioning in top condition. A very popular septic maintenance product is "RID-X." However, when the research is thoroughly inspected, the best advice remains to avoid the use of any septic additives. These products can actually cause the bacteria to become overly active, which can become more hazardous than helpful to your system. When agitated the overactive bacteria pushes undissolved heavy material into the drainage field before it has been broken down sufficiently, which is asking for a big septic repair bill and a health hazard right in your back yard!

How Do I Know if I Have a Serious Problem with My Septic System

First things first; when dealing with serious problems surrounding a Septic Tank, you must act quickly and very cautiously. Human sewage is very HAZARDOUS WASTE—primarily to humans. There are strict government regulations that apply to its handling and removal. Septic Tanks manufacture explosive methane gas and may contain DEADLY viruses.

If faced with the problems brought on by a damaged or non-functioning septic system at your home, you must contact a licensed sewer cleaning service. Click here for The EPA's (pdf.) guide on Septic Systems Rules.

What if the House Drain isn't Clogged?

If the house drain is not clogged, the problem could be a clogged drain field, absence of bacteria in the system, or your Septic System is full. Two important signs to be on the look-out for concerning these symptoms are as follows:

  1. Dark-colored water is standing on the surface of the drain field
  2. A yucky sewage odor can be smelled in or around your home

If you are encountering either of these conditions, you most likely have a serious problem with your septic system and must contact a licensed or certified sewage cleaning service.

How it works

A very basic explanation of how the system works begins with waste water leaving the house through the plumbing network inside the house to the pipe leading to the septic tank. The tank is buried underground and is usually constructed in a water tight manner of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. It is intended to hold the waste water long enough to allow the solids to settle to the bottom (to form sludge) and the oils to float to the top (to form scum). Some of the solid waste decomposes as well. There are compartments and a “t” shaped outlet from the septic tank that prevents the sludge and scum from leaving the tank to travel to the drain fields. Once the liquid enters the drain field, it is filtered through the several layers of soil for the final treatment by removal of harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

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Septic Tank Pumping - How Your Septic System Works and Maintenance Tips

Septic tank problems often occur with systems that are onion- shaped. The liquids and solids in a septic tank are separated by a baffle that comes in the form of a ball-shaped figure, or an inner sleeve shaped skin that has hooks attached to it at the top of the inner side of the neck. However, the wear and tear in the passing years may tear off the baffle allowing it to sink in the tank. Also, the ball in the receptacle may be knocked loose and disentangle itself. Most septic system problems begin with these two scenarios because liquid and solid wastes combine as they go through the soak away and this may cause a blockage.

One way to address septic tank problems especially if the baffle collapsed is for a homeowner to set-up a filter for his tank. Filters like these can be placed by a homeowner inside an outlet pipe, so that the septic system can function more effectively not to mention that it can save one a significant amount of money. However, if problems are more acute, a homeowner has no other recourse but to replace his or her old septic tank. Another concern that is related to cesspit are open, loose, or worn-out manhole covers.

Other problems that can be resolved yourself are solids blocking the soakway. A T-bar can used to unblock the passage. This very basic baffle is made of clay, but for those who want to replace it with a current version. The replacements units are generally reproduced in plastic to save on cost. However, one has to be careful with these baffles because if they are not correctly installed, the solids will still enter the soakway unhampered causing more damage. A homeowner would perhaps consider buying septic tank filler for him to solve his septic tank problems himself and save on the installation costs. On the other hand, this type of job is often better handled by a professional who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty.

Maintaining a regular schedule of septic tank pumping will help keep your system running efficiently and will save you hundreds of dollars in expensive system repairs.