Septic tank cleaning is not something most homeowners like to do, but it is necessary for proper sewage disposal. A typical septic tank serving a typical household is filled within three years, but newer alternative septic tanks have sophisticated electronic components, pumps and float switches that need more frequent maintenance. If your septic tank contains an independent system, you must book an annual inspection with a licensed septic tank cleaning service when the capacity has dropped below minimum levels. If you think your septic system is simply old and in need of an annual cleaning, contact a local septic tank cleaning service as soon as possible.
A septic system can develop problems for many reasons. Leaking pipes, or slow flowing toilets or washing machines, can cause the sludge in a tank to settle, creating a layer of scum. This accumulation can harden and cause the clogging of pipes and leach field problems. Certain chemicals, such as chlorine, can damage septic tanks and can be used to disinfect sinks, toilets and kitchen surfaces, and they pose potential risks to both children and pets. In addition, certain plumbing leaves and oil can break down solid materials in the tank, causing unpleasant odors and residue to settle atop the septic tank.
It is usually advisable to call a professional septic tank cleaning service for routine cleaning of up to two layers of the drain or of both layers if you are planning on having a full tank recharged. For a simple one-time cleaning of a single layer drain, most professionals advise homeowners to pour a cup of commercial drain cleaner into the drain and then let it sit for five minutes. After five minutes, use a plunger or brush to clear away any debris. For deeper clogs, most experts recommend that homeowners rent a backflow prevention device at least once a year, especially if the drainage system is located outdoors.
The second step in septic tank cleaning involves pumping out the waste water left behind in the tank. Pumping out the waste water left behind in a septic tank allows technicians to visually inspect the condition of the sludge layer. If there is heavy build-up of sludge, the technician may be able to manually remove it using a pump that is connected to a wand-like device that sends a current down the drain.
When pumping out excess sludge, it is important to also check for bacteria. High levels of bacteria in a septic tank can cause odors and potentially serious contamination to surfaces below the surface of the drain. For this reason, many septic tank cleaning professionals will recommend renting a backflow prevention device, or treating the drainage fields with an antimicrobial agent when pumping out excess sludge. Back flow prevention devices prevent bacteria from entering the pipe and traveling to other surfaces in the pipe, while antibacterial agents prevent bacteria from entering the pipe and thriving.
The last step in septic tank cleaning usually involves draining the liquid waste into a drain field. The liquids removed from the tank should contain a thick, dark liquid like castor oil or petroleum jelly. These liquids are often left behind after pumping out the solids in the tank so they can decompose naturally. This thick liquid is what will be drained into the drain field. At this point, the area must be kept as clean as possible to make sure no disease-causing organisms are present. Professional companies who perform septic tank cleaning will be able to tell you how much waste liquid to expect in each drain field, so this step should not be entirely done by yourself.