Septic Tank Pumping – How To Determine The Frequency

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Septic Tank Pumping Frequency Determination

Septic Systems have been installed within about six in ten homes of the United States.  Especially in the great Northwest territory of Washington State and especially in King County Wa, where septic systems are abundant. They are a clean and cost efficient way to manage household sewage water. Properly cared for septic tank systems will for sure provide a home several years of breakdown free management of household gray water. The most significant part of maintaining your system is routine septic tank pumping and septic system inspection by a certified King County septic system service.

Getting the septic tank inspected by a experienced King County septic tank pumping service on a regular basis will help you decide when septic tank pumping is required. Many septic tank systems need to be inspected about once every 3 years. Certain septic tank systems with mechanical components will need to be inspected more often. The septic tank system’s records will have a proposal about the frequency of septic tank pumping and septic system inspection.

Septic Tank Pumping – Many homeowners desire to know how often they should have their septic tank pumping done depending on how many individuals live in the residence. A variety of conditions influence when a septic tank pumping is needed, so there is no exact answer for everyone. There are, however, ways to estimate when a septic tank will need pumping and things you can do to lengthen the time before septic tank pumping is required.  It is smart to not take a risk with the Septic tank system and have the septic tank pumping done each and every 3 years as recommended by the King County Health Department.

There are specific ways that your certified King County Septic Tank Pumping Contractor can establish the needed septic tank pumping frequency for your actual family and septic tank system.  In order to have the septic tank pumping professional estimate how often your household should have the septic tank pumping performed, you will need to have the septic tank pumped, at that time the septic system service professional will make that determination. As an example: an average 4 bedroom house will have (in King County WA) a 1000 to 1500 gallon septic tank and with a family of 4 should expect to have the septic tank pumped out, every 3 to 5 years of standard use.

The main determining factors for septic tank pumping schedule is, the scum (top) and sludge (bottom) layers of the septic tank. A technician will check the layers during the septic tank inspection. Septic Tank Pumping

Both of the layers are extremely dependent of how the septic tank system is used and what is being put down the household drains. An additional factor is the size of the septic tank in relation to the size of the family using the septic tank system. A septic tank system that is too small for the house will need to be pumped out more frequently. This situation is usually more prevalent in older homes built earlier than 1980.  After about 1980 the size of the residence being built on the property is considered when a new septic tank system is installed.

The main two things which effect the schedule of septic tank pumping is the number of individuals living in the house and how the system is used. Of course, the more individuals using the septic system and drainfield means more waste water will be created. This is not something you can do anything about, other than it is significant to keep in mind when considering how often to schedule septic tank pumping and inspection of the septic tank system.

Use of the septic tank system is the one factor that homeowners can keep an eye on and adjust to help expand the schedule between septic tank pumping. Managing the amount of water being used in the household and what is being put down the toilet, dishwasher, washing machine or sink and if a garbage disposal is being installed is truly important.

Water – Using high efficiency or water saving plumbing fixtures, such as toilets and faucets, can to a great extent decrease the amount of water that goes into the septic system. Fixing leaks and drips is an added way to decrease the overuse of water that can cause the septic tank to fill up earlier.

Waste – Managing the solid waste that flows into the septic tank system is an added technique to keep the septic tank system continues operating properly. Things which should by no means go into the septic tank that are either washed or flushed down the drains could overburden the septic tank system. Do not use a garbage disposal with a septic tank system and do not flush anything except toilet paper.

Find more information about Septic Tank Pumping frequency at our Septic Tank Pumping page.

Pump Alarms sounding due to heavy rainfall

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Is your Septic Tank Alarm going off?  If we have had heavy rainfall in the Northwest just before or during a Pump Alarm situation this may be due to a high water level in the Pump Tank.

If your Septic System Pump Alarm is sounding and we are having heavy rainfall,  you may have a saturated drainfield that will not allow the pump to disperse water into the drainfield lines because they are not able to drain properly due to standing water in the drainfield.  If this is not taken care of quickly the Septic Pump could burn up due to running continually due to resistance in the lines.

Heavy rainfall can also cause water infiltration into the Septic Tank and into the Pump Tank, consequentially causing a high water level in the Pump Tank  that causes the Pump alarm to sound.  If this is the case you will want to have sealed risers installed or make sure that your current lids are seated properly so they will not allow water infiltration into the Septic Tank or Pump Tank.

Septic Systems explained

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

This video will give you a good idea of how your septic system functions, if you have any questions about your septic system please do not hesitate to call our office and one of us will be happy to help with any of your septic Tank and Drainfield questions.

What is a Septic Tank …

Septic Tank: “an underground tank in which waste matter is decomposed through bacterial action.”

If there is too much solid material in your septic tank, the “bacterial action” is not taking place properly. Why? Not enough bacteria.

Parts of a Septic System

There are two main parts to the basic Septic System: the tank and the drain field. The household wastewater flows into the tank where the average detention time is 30 hours. The tank should have at least 1,000- gallon capacity.

How It Works

There are two main parts to the basic septic system: the tank and the  drainfield. In short, waste flows into your septic tank, is decomposed, and then distributed through the drain field.

Anything you put down a drain or toilet goes straight into your tank. It will stay there, decomposing through natural bacterial action. Then, the wastewater flows out of the tank and through the drain field.

Over time, three layers form in a septic tank. A layer of sludge at the bottom, wastewater in the middle, and scum at the top.

The sludge and scum stay in the tank where bacteria work to break them down. But in time, these layers build up. When they become too large, your tank needs to be pumped. If the tank is not pumped annually, your septic performance will suffer. The solid build-up may be carried into your drain field, clogging it, and causing complete system failure.

The extreme cost and inconvenience of repairing a failed system can usually be avoided by basic preventative maintenance: regularly pumping the Septic Tank

Stay tuned for more Homeowner Education how to videos form Lilly’s Septic System Services

  • how to locate your Septic Tank Lids
  • How to determine if the Septic Tank needs pumping
  • How to clean your outlet filter
  • How to clean your inlet baffle
  • How to landscape around the Septic Tank
  • We will be taking requests for “How To” Videos … Stay tuned

To make a suggestion for a “Homeowner How To” Video please leave a message in the form below

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Keeping Your Septic System Healthy

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Keeping Your System Healthy

Guidelines for a Healthy Septic System

By following a few simple rules, you won’t have to think about your system on a day-to-day basis.

Indeed, with proper use, conventional onsite systems can operate for years without much management.

Maintenance begins with sound water use and waste disposal habits. Since your family will determine which materials enter the system, we encourage you to set rules and stick to them.

Here is a partial list of the items to keep OUT of your system. Do not introduce any of the following:

  • Grease or cooking oils
  • Disposable diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Any latex products
  • Paper towels
  • Plastics
  • Cat litter
  • Latex paint, pesticides, or any hazardous chemicals

Ask us for a complete list of prohibited items for your custom system.

Many homes have garbage disposals to help manage vegetable and other food waste. Excessive use of your garbage disposal may introduce a high level of unwanted solids into your system. Use disposals moderately and consider composting as an option to handle vegetable waste. If you use a garbage disposal the septic Tank will need to be pumped every 3 years to ensure that solids to not reach the baffle level and potentially damage the drainfield.

Do not put too much water into the septic system. Excess water puts too much strain on the decomposition process and can cause problems. Do not do all loads of laundry in one day, try to stagger laundry over the week. Maximum water use should be about 50 gallons per day for each person in the family. Estimate by using the following numbers per person so you can keep track:

  • Shower: 2.5 gallons per minute – 10 minute shower = 25 gallons
  • Toilet: 2 gallons per flush (for toilets bought in the last 20 years)
  • Washing machine: 40 gallons per load
  • Dishwasher cycle: 10 gallons

With large families, keeping track of water use can be hard. But laying down guidelines can help everyone do their part. Also consider getting energy and water-wise appliances when you need to replace your current models. Visit for suggestions.

Be aware that your system is sized to handle the number of people anticipated to be using it when it is installed. If that number increases, you may need a larger system.

Do not use harsh drain openers for a clogged drain. The best alternative to conventional, caustic drain openers is to use boiling water or a drain snake to clear clogs. Though this approach may be a little messier, the chemicals in drain cleaners can cause havoc with your septic system.

Use mild or natural cleaners for your bathroom and kitchen. They should either be okay-ed for use in septic systems or marked biodegradable.

Be aware that bleaches and antibacterial soaps can inhibit the enzymatic action necessary to help bacteria break down the solids in the tank.  Again, harsh chemicals can cause expensive and unpleasant problems in your system.

If you use or intend to use a water softener in the home, let your installer or maintenance contractor know. Under certain soil conditions, the salt recharge solution must be handled carefully and the size of your absorption field may need to be increased.

Have the solids pumped out of the septic tank on a regular basis. Your Septic System Installer, Septic Tank Pumping contractor or your local health department can give you guidelines. Lilly’s Septic recommends Cleaning and Pumping the Septic Tank every 3 to 5 years. (see pumping page for pumping frequency)  If you use a garbage disposal seriously consider pumping your Septic Tank at minimum every 3 years!

Remember, more sophisticated systems may require additional maintenance. So always ask your pumping technician or our office for details on the recommended Septic Tank Pumping frequency for your Septic System.

Water Conservation Tips

Saturday, March 19th, 2011
  • Collect the water you use for rinsing produce and reuse it to water houseplants.
  • Don’t use running water to thaw food.
  • Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
  • Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.
  • Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  • When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks, so that every drop goes down you not the drain.
  • Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours, when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
  • Plant during the spring or fall when the watering requirements are lower.
  • Start a compost pile. Using compost when you plant adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
  • Water your summer lawns once every three days and your winter lawn once every five days.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. This saves 150 gallons or more each time, and if you clean your property once a week, that’s more than 600 gallons a month.
  • Don’t water the lawn on windy days. There’s too much evaporation. Can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering.
  • In the fall, add four to six inches of mulch to your plant beds. This will protect the roots from freezing during the winter and prevent water evaporation. Such preparation will reduce the need to water as often in the coming spring and summer.