Septic Tank Pumping: When and How Often to Do It

One of the most common questions we get from new owners of septic tanks regards how often they need to be pumped. It’s an important question – after all, if you leave it too long, the consequences may not just be potentially messy and unpleasantly smelly, there could also be risks to the health of the owner or nearby neighbours.

There’s also the slightly different question of whether there’s a best time of year to pump a septic tank.

This month, the team at AA Turner Tankers will be taking a look at these questions, so that you can better understand the things you need to do should you find yourself responsible for a septic tank.

When should a septic tank be pumped?

The simple answer to this is “when it’s full”, and if that’s the case, then it doesn’t matter what time of year it is – it’s best to get your tank pumped sooner rather than later. If you’re not sure how you can tell when your septic tank is full and in need of pumping, take a look at this earlier blog post.

However, if you’re scheduling regular maintenance, it may be better to schedule it for early spring if possible.

Many homes that need septic tanks are remote – it’s that remoteness from the main sewer systems that often makes the tank necessary. Remote locations can often be subject to harsher weather than other areas, which might mean frozen ground in the winter. That in turn could make access to your tank trickier at that time of year.

Meanwhile, heavier rains tend to come in spring and summer, and that excess water can quickly fill a septic tank that’s already been left untended for a while. So avoiding particularly rainy times of year is also a good idea. 

How often should a septic tank be pumped?

There is no easy or straightforward answer to this – it will usually depend on the size of your tank and how many people are living at the property in question. That’s because a large tank will need to be emptied less often than a small tank, and the more people there are, the more waste they will produce.

Our usual guidance is that most septic tanks only need pumping once every three to five years, but this shouldn’t be taken as gospel – you need to keep a constant eye on your tank for those signs that it’s filling up quicker than expected.

By the same token, you don’t want to err too much in the other direction either – pumping your septic tank more often than is needed will only cost you more money.

Over time, you should get used to how quickly your tank fills, but be aware of changes that might affect those expectations – things like extra people staying at the property, new appliances that use a lot of water or prolonged spells of wet weather can all mean a septic tank can fill or overflow unexpectedly quickly. 

Here at AA Turner Tankers, we’re experts in all matters related to septic tanks. Whether you want advice, one-off troubleshooting or scheduled maintenance and pumping services, our team of experts can help.  We’re a family business based in Colchester, but also operate in and around Chelmsford and Ipswich.

Get in touch now to find out more or to arrange a site visit from one of our engineers.