Septic tanks are essential for helping you to dispose of your personal organic waste. Septic tanks take in organic waste from your plumbing system. The more solid waste falls to the bottom of the tank and liquid waste flows out an exit pipe to a distant location, hopefully well away from your home and any water sources. The septic tank pipe system then empties out into some sort of gravel field through a series of pipes dispersing the liquid over a great distance. We are going to focus on that solid waste for a little bit.
While your septic tank does indeed have its own sort of bacterial environment which helps to break down all of that excess waste, the waste will continue to build up much more quickly than the bacteria can break it down. The decomposition process is relatively slow compared to how quickly you will fill it up. The process is slowed greatly because typical septic tanks will be buried anywhere from six inches to three feet underground, where they will be much cooler in temperature. Cooler temperatures make it harder for bacteria to reproduce and function, slowing the overall decomposition process.
If you have a large number of people in your home, you may want to consider getting your tank pumped more than just every three years. However, it does depend on how often and how many people use it. Over the course of a few years (the usual recommendation is pumping every three years) waste can build up substantially. When that happens, it affects the ability of the tank to drain as effectively and can cause overflowing, flooding your yard, or even backing up in your plumbing and flooding your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen.
No matter what, you need to be consistent in ensuring that you pump your septic tank. Homes with garbage disposals should also consider that the sludge, or solid waste layer in your septic tank, will build up more quickly than the average tank.
A poorly maintained system will fail, it’s just a question of when. Paying for a pump is really much cheaper than doing a full replacement of your entire system – not to mention if the system backs up into your house, rather than just overflowing in your yard. Neither of these makes for a very pretty picture and will most certainly result in a great expense.
The average cost of septic tank pumping is around $270. Once every three years, that isn’t too high a price. Consider that the average cup of coffee costs about $4, and let’s say you get one about 300 days out of the year; that’s $1200 a year on coffee. If you can do that, maintaining your system with a paltry $270 every few years shouldn’t be too much trouble. If you are still not convinced, compare this with the most basic cost of replacing damaged flooring in your bathroom. This repair will cost roughly $600 for a 5’x10’ bathroom, and that’s just a low estimate. If there is resulting structural damage, then the cost could increase exponentially.
Do yourself a favor and get your septic system inspected and pumped often.