Does Your Septic Tank Ever Require "Emergency" Pumping?

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Understanding Septic System Problems

After we moved into a home with a septic system, I realized that we had to do something to understand what to expect. We started reading more and more about septic issues, and before we knew it, we had our first problem. Fortunately, because we were prepared, we didn't have to second guess our decision to call a repair person. Now when we have septic system issues, we don't worry as much about it and it is a great feeling. This blog is all about understanding common septic system problems and knowing how to fix them the first time around.


Does Your Septic Tank Ever Require "Emergency" Pumping?

8 February 2023
 Categories: , Blog

If you own a home with a septic system, you (hopefully!) already know that pumping your tank is a critical maintenance task. Routine septic tank pumping is necessary to manage solid and grease levels in the tank, preventing wastewater from backflowing into your home. Pumping also protects your leaching field by ensuring that solid waste doesn't destroy its plumbing or kill its helpful bacterial colonies.

However, most homeowners don't consider septic pumping an urgent service. Instead, you'll typically schedule a tank pumping weeks or even months in advance, but this isn't always the case. Septic tank pumping may be a much more immediate concern in some situations.

What Does Septic Pumping Really Do?

It's a common misconception that septic tank pumping is about controlling the overall level of waste in your tank. Instead, septic tanks must maintain a fairly constant wastewater level. Since the outlet baffle sits at a certain height in the tank and septic systems typically rely purely on gravity, wastewater (effluent) cannot flow into your leaching field unless there's sufficient water in the tank.

The true purpose of septic pumping is to control the solids level in your tank. Septic tanks are essentially holding and sorting facilities for sewage. As waste moves through the tank, solids will settle to the bottom, and grease and fats will rise to the top. The outlet baffle sits between these two layers so only liquid can pass through to your leaching field.

This design is critical because solids, grease, and fat can quickly destroy your home's drainfield. Non-liquid waste entering your drainfield can clog the effluent pipes or even create an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. Since septic drain fields rely on aerobic bacteria to help break down effluent, this situation can quickly damage or even destroy your home's drain field.

Why Would You Need an Emergency Pumping?

If you keep up with septic system maintenance, your system should never clog or back up into your home. However, poor maintenance can cause excessive solids to build up in your tank. These solids can clog the outlet baffle or drain field pipes, preventing effluent from flowing out of the tank. With nowhere else to go, wastewater will begin to back up into your home.

This situation can be problematic for two reasons. First and most obvious, sewage backing up into your home can cause significant damage while posing a serious health hazard. However, an overloaded septic system will also cause substantial and ongoing damage to your leaching field. The longer the problem remains, the more likely you will face an expensive leaching field remediation or replacement.

Once you know you have an overloaded tank, contact a septic services company such as Good Shepherd Septic Service for emergency tank pumping. Not only will this service get your septic system flowing again, but it may help prevent costly damage to the rest of your system.