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Septic Tank pumping question #4872918 09/19/18 02:46 PM
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wormwood1978 Offline OP
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First time septic tank owner here. I'm going to have my septic tank pumped for the first time. I have uncovered the center cap. I took a photo of the tank when it was put in four years ago. There appears to be a panel on each side of the center cap as well that I see from the photo I took. Will I have to uncover both of those panels as well?

IMG_1017.JPG
Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4872924 09/19/18 02:50 PM
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PimTac Offline
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When I had mine done it was two access points and they used both. Uncover them but let the guys open it up.


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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4872929 09/19/18 03:04 PM
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doitmyself Offline
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Those are access ports to inspect or troubleshoot the inlet and outlet baffles. You normally don't need to remove those for tank pumping. After the tank is pumped out, you should be able to poke your head into the center hatch and see that the two baffles are intact (sometimes they dislodge).

Having said that, some tanks have a filter on the outlet baffle that needs to be serviced. So..........

[Linked Image]

Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: doitmyself] #4872930 09/19/18 03:07 PM
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wormwood1978 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by doitmyself
Those are access ports to inspect or troubleshoot the inlet and outlet baffles. You normally don't need to remove those for tank pumping. After the tank is pumped out, you should be able to poke your head into the center hatch and see that the two baffles are intact (sometimes they dislodge).

Having said that, some tanks have a filter on the outlet baffle that needs to be serviced. So..........

[Linked Image]


that helps a lot, thank you!

Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4872963 09/19/18 03:49 PM
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PimTac Offline
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Thanks for clarifying. My example was from the 80’s and both sections of the tank had to be pumped and checked. I’m sure they have better designs now.


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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4872966 09/19/18 03:54 PM
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bobbobtar Offline
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Many years ago when I was a first-time septic tank owner I wasn't too sure of the maintenance of the tank, a family friend gave me advice that I still follow (don't put anything in the tank that you haven't eaten first).


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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: bobbobtar] #4872981 09/19/18 04:14 PM
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Rand Offline
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Originally Posted by bobbobtar
Many years ago when I was a first-time septic tank owner I wasn't too sure of the maintenance of the tank, a family friend gave me advice that I still follow (don't put anything in the tank that you haven't eaten first).


how does that work you have a trashcan with lid for poop paper?


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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4872989 09/19/18 04:28 PM
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gathermewool Offline
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Rand, some places do, e.g., Puerto Rico.

On a serious note, you knew what he meant.


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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4872992 09/19/18 04:36 PM
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StevieC Offline
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My dad had his pumped out when he moved in to his rural house about 12 years ago and hasn't had it pumped since. He flushes septic enzymes down the toilet regularly and it seems to be helping keep it from filling up. He was actually worried and had it inspected by someone he knows and the guy was telling him that he couldn't believe it had been 12 years since the tank was pumped because it looked virtually empty.

They are also careful not to flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet other than what normally goes down, and they use biodegradable soaps (non anti-bacterial) and laundry detergent as well after reading about them causing issues with septic system natural bacteria. Maybe that has an effect on it as well. Oh and they never use bleach and if they do it doesn't go down the drain to the septic system.

The house he is in was built in the 1970's and it looks like an original system / bed.

Last edited by StevieC; 09/19/18 04:38 PM.

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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4873026 09/19/18 05:17 PM
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wormwood1978 Offline OP
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I dug up the side ports as well this evening. I'll update if they are used or inspected when I have my tank pumped tomorrow or Friday.

Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4873027 09/19/18 05:19 PM
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Most tanks around here were concrete, then onto fibreglass and going back to concrete. It is one tank with a partition in the middle that is a few fee high. All the waste and water from the house flows to one side and the liquid will eventually spill over to the other side, which will either have an in tank or external effluent pump for the liquids and some solids. This is all accessed through one manhole, which is slightly above grade. We get pumped once a year, which is in the fall. Both sides are sucked out. According to the septic guy, we could extend ours out well past one year but would hate to run into an issue in the winter. 80$ a year is not a killer.

We had numerous issues with the tank and pump a few winters ago. Plugged and freezing pump out (would not drain back below frost line). Thankfully the old pump was in the basement so you could monitor what was going on.


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Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4873031 09/19/18 05:32 PM
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$80 for a pumping seems quite cheap to me, especially if its $CDN. I just had our 1000 gallon tank pumped here in southern Vermont, and it was $325

They bring it to a municipal sewage treatment plant, which I think charges them quite a bit to take and process it.

We do ours every 6 years or so. Depends on how many people are in the house "donating" to the system.

Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4873033 09/19/18 05:35 PM
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You have it pumped to reduce the depth of the sludge in the bottom. The deeper the sludge, the less time the sewage has to separate and break down into sludge and liquid. You want the liquid or effluent to leave the tank and go into the field without any solids in it. Solids clog the field.

Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4873035 09/19/18 05:36 PM
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wormwood1978 Offline OP
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$300 is what I'll be paying in Maine for my 1,000 gallon tank

Re: Septic Tank pumping question [Re: wormwood1978] #4873063 09/19/18 06:16 PM
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A properly designed tank has two chambers (or, old ones have two tanks). First chamber in-line from the residence is the "solids" chamber. Then a baffle (actually two, one from the ceiling and one from the floor) and chamber two is the "liquid" side, which is a bit of misnomer. The liquid side is still a digester and it is working on colloidal suspensions of minute solids. The baffles are to keep heavy solids from migrating along the floor and floaties from getting into chamber two along the surface. Only neutral buoyancy liquids should go from chamber one to two...

Things like egg shells, meat bones, some veggie waste will not digest in a reasonable amount of time and slowly accumulate in chamber one. The general recommendation is to have chamber one pumped every 5 years, but that is usually over-kill. I have seen tanks with laundry and appliances including garbage disposals go ten years before the solids start to tip over into the liquid side ...

10 years is a good number for general pump-out. But having it done at 4 years will tell you a lot. If the solids side is less than 1/2 full (1/2 way up the lower baffle), you are probably good for the 10 year number... If it's more than 1/2 full, you are better to schedule at say 7 years.

Flushing after-market enzymes down the toilet is OK, but it's a lot like MMO in an engine. It's mostly insurance. And you never know from where or what breed of enzymes they are selling you. 99.9% of all the bacteria and enzymes you need are already in the waste stream. It's a pretty unusual situation to really need add treatment.

If you are willing to allow your tank to become solids digesters on both sides, you can get up to 30 years on one pump. But you put your leach field in jeopardy doing that. The leach field should only be handling clarified waste water, never any solids (even colloidal minutia) ...

Last edited by BrocLuno; 09/19/18 06:22 PM.

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