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Septic tanks are the ultimate case of something important being out of sight and out of mind. If you weren’t there when the septic tank was installed, you might not even know where it is. Many homeowners don’t even know they have one. They tend to find out when sewage starts puddling in the backyard. That happens when the septic tank drainfield is clogged or when the tank itself ruptures. This happens if it’s not pumped adequately.

 

How They Work

 A septic tank has a pipe going into it and a pipe coming out. The pipe entering the tank brings waste from the house. That waste sits in the tank and separates into three layers. The bottom layer of the waste is solid waste that sinks. The top layer is oil and fat that rises. The middle is greywater. That graywater drains through another pipe into a drainfield. The drainfield is a field underground of sand or some other filtering material. If the drainfield is overly full, sewage will begin to rise in the yard without being filtered by the sand. If the waste inside the septic tank rises too high, it will plug the pipe and the graywater cannot be drained.

Either one of these will result in sewage in your backyard. A blocked drainpipe could lead to sewage backing up all the way into your house. The simple solution is prevention; have your septic tanks pumped regularly to keep this from happening.

 

How Often?

 As a general rule, you should probably empty your septic tank every three to five years. However, the specific demands depend on the size of your household, the habits of your household, and the size of your septic tank.

A teenager or adult produces about 100 gallons of septic waste every year. So, if you have a 1,000 gallon septic tank and two adults in your home, you would need to empty it about every five years. For a family of four, you would need to empty it about every two and a half years.

If you don’t know how big your tank is or if you’ve never had it pumped before, you should call a professional. They’ll pump it for you and also tell you how big it is so you’ll know when you need to call them again. Make sure to write down the date somewhere.

If you think you’re having any problems with your septic or your plumbing, be sure to call professionals immediately.

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