Take care of your septic tank before it is too late. Aardvark Waste Services provides inspections, locating, digging, and pumping.
Many homeowners are unaware of the importance of periodically pumping their septic tank to remove the buildup of organic and inorganic waste that accumulates in the form of scum and sludge in the septic tank. If not managed properly these solids will accumulate to a level where they are being agitated each time new waste enters the septic tank and consequently will be flushed through to the drain field plugging off the soil and leading to septic system failure, disgusting messes in your home or yard, and expensive repairs.
The only way to know if your septic tank is in need of pumping is to open it. First; check the level of scum in the septic tank. This is done by calling your local septic pro (Steve), or opening a lid (see #2 above) on the septic tank and using a shovel or other suitable tool to estimate the thickness of scum in the septic tank. When the scum is approximately 8" thick (see C above) it is time to pump your tank. Second is to check the sludge, which is a little more difficult. We use a sludge judge, homeowners can use a long pole and a white tube sock. Stretch the tube sock over the end of the pole as high as it will go and duct tape it. Then stick the homemade sludge judge through one of the T's (see B above) to the bottom of the tank. Spin pole around a couple of times and pull it out. Sock will indicate approximate depth of sludge (see E above). Level of scum should not exceed 8", sludge should not exceed 16". If either of these levels are reached tank should be pumped.
Other things to check; Overall health of the system. First thing to notice is the smell! Tank should NOT have an overpowering smell of rotten eggs or sulfur. Along with this there should not be a lot of white, yellow, or grey residue on the crust or tank walls. Concrete septic tanks should not be deteriorating. If your septic tank smells like rotten eggs and there is no crust it's very important to check the sludge. Strong odor and no crust is a sign of a dead, fowl system.
There is no certain number of years between proper septic tank maintenance. The length of time between pumping your septic tank is a direct result of what and how much you put in the septic tank. In my experience, the average length of time for proper septic system maintenance is 5 to 8 years. However, I have seen septic tanks that were 20 years old and just ready for the first pumping. I have also seen septic tanks completely full and backing up after only 1 year. Don't take anyone's word for it, check your septic tank!
I recommend a new system be checked after the second year of use then a determination can be made of how often it should be checked in the future.
WARNING: If you are using your home as a vacation rental your system wasn't likely designed with this in mind. Keep a very close eye on your system and check it annually.
Bragging that you haven't pumped your septic tank in 20 years is like bragging that your car has 50,000 miles on it and you haven't changed the oil yet. Waiting until your septic system backs up to have it pumped, is like waiting until your car engine starts knocking and pinging and then doing an oil change.
NEW HOME BUYERS
If you are purchasing a home with an existing, used septic system, I recommend having the septic tank inspected prior to purchase. Utah laws don't require sellers to have the septic system inspected. If you buy a home with a failed, or failing system, repairing this system can cost $8,000-$12,000 or more.