The State of Florida recommends your tank be pumped every 2 to 3 years. Other factors come into play like the size of your tank, a garbage disposal, water use, and other household products used. If you have a large family gathering it would also be a good idea to have the tank pumped before hand.
Regular, timely cleaning of the septic tank is key to having few problems with your plumbing, but if you notice a gurgling or "burping" in your plumbing fixtures or a sluggish toilet or drain that just doesn't seem right, it may be time to have your tank cleaned out.
Check for symptoms like a wet yard near septic, bad odors, slow flushing, gurgling or over flow of shower or toilet.
When waste water enters the tank, it is "digested" anaerobically - basically the bacterias present in the tank decompose and mineralize the solid waste and the liquid waste is separated. That's why the use of certain chemicals, or too much water - can effect this natural cause and effect system. Waste that is not decomposed by the system, eventually has to be pumped out.
Disposal of non-biodegradeable objects (such as flushed items, hair, etc) can get lodged in the pipes and cause a back up. Additionally, use of solvents and chemicals down your drains, can reduce the natural decomposition of the solid wastes in the tank, causeing the level of sludge to rise and back up the system. Not pumping out your system on a regular basis (once every 2-3 years) can cause back ups. Excessive disposal of oils and grease may cause your drains to block and are not digested easily in the septic tank. Additionally, some cleaners and chemicals (bleaches, solvents, etc) can damage the working of your septic tank and should be properly disposed of. Garbage disposals can be used with septic systems, but should be used with restraint to prevent unnecessary strain on the septic system.
Yes and no. It is bacteria, and it breaks down solids, this is true. Though a properly working system should not have issues breaking down it's solids. Some people abuse the use of bacteria additives, thinking they can stretch how often they need to maintenance their tank. The bacteria eats solids breaking it down and forming a sludgy byproduct thats left over and sinks to the bottom of the tank. Overusing bacteria additives can excelerate this process, as the ammount of sludge builds in the bottom of the tank it rises and could be pushed out into your drainfield (even worse if you are not equiped with an effluent filter on your tank), filling seepage holes and harddening, once it hardens it acts as a seal. Essentialling causing your field to fail. There is no magic cure for avoiding regular maintenance.


  • Check with the local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper if you have a garbage disposal unit to make sure that your septic system can handle this additional waste.
  • Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to the system.
  • Use water efficiently to avoid overloading the septic system. Be sure to repair leaky faucets or toilets. Use high-efficiency fixtures.
  • Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.
  • Check with your local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper before allowing water softener backwash to enter your septic tank.
  • Keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.
  • Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record for service visits.
  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped as necessary by a licensed inspector/contractor.
  • Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.


  • Your septic system is not a trash can. Don’t put dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system.
  • Don’t use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.
  • Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.

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