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Septic System Frequently Asked Questions

How often should my tank be cleaned or pumped?

On average, residential septic tanks have enough room to hold sludge for up to 2 years. There are many factors that can increase the frequency in which your tanks must be pumped such as an increase in water usage with appliances, toilets, showers, laundry, etc. This chart is a guideline to use for a pumping schedule based on average usage, the number of people in the household, and tank size. If you run a business from your home such as day care, a beauty shop, or pet grooming, you should have your tank pumped more frequently. You should NEVER allow your tank to go longer than 5 years without pumping regardless of the size of your tank, usage or number of people in your household.

Can we use a garbage disposal if we have a septic system?

Garbage disposals are not generally recommended for households with a septic system. They produce solids and grease which increase the amount of material being disposed into the tank, thus requiring more frequent pumping to eliminate clogging and system malfunctions. If you have a garbage disposal or plan to install one, you need to consider pumping your tank more often.

Should I use liquid or powdered laundry detergents? Do you recommend one or the other?

It is important to read labels on all products being placed into your septic system to make sure they are safe for your system. Always use phosphorous-free detergents. Phosphates are harmful to the overall life of your system and the amount used should be kept to a minimum. Liquid laundry detergents are recommended because granular powdered detergents often clump together within the tank and buildup on the tank walls which can lead to clogging problems.

Why do we need to pump our tank?

If a tank is not pumped on a regular basis, solids and sludge can build up within the tank, flow into the drain field, and clog the system ultimately leading to malfunctions and eventual system failure. Regular pumping removes harmful solids that get trapped in the tank and prevents more costly system problems and maintenance. Regular pumping must be a part of any preventative maintenance program.

Is there any product that I should put in my tank to help it operate more efficiently?

Some household products and cleaners can be harmful when used in excessive amounts. They kill the anaerobic bacteria cultures within the tank that organically break down and digest the solids turning them into sludge. This bacteria is essential to the proper function of a system. Most household waste produces enough bacteria to break down the solids. However, if the bacteria is killed by harmful products, the system will malfunction and fail. Dead bacteria must be replaced. We recommend that you put CCLS and Drain Master, a liquid bacteria/enzyme treatment, into your tank to replace dead bacteria cultures. It is also beneficial to pour this treatment product into your toilet once a month (in manufacturer suggested dosages) to help the bacteria regenerate and digest the solids at a faster rate. Always remember that chemical and biological products are not a substitute for regular pumping. You must pump your tank! A Martin’s Sanitation Service representative can answer your questions regarding these products and recommend the best course of treatment and action for your system needs