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Don’t Pump a Septic Tank Under These Conditions!

Just like any other essential components of a home, septic tanks require regular maintenance. This scheduled caring and cleaning activity prevents environmental contamination and maintains proper system functioning to ensure a long service life. There are several reasons why septic tank pumping by a vacuum truck is important; however, there are also certain conditions that should be avoided that are directly associated with the suctioning of septic waste.

Following are some of the conditions under which vacuuming septic waste is not recommended.

  • Flooding – When flooding has occurred in an area where there are septic systems, they cannot function effectively. The tank should certainly not be pumped at this time because suctioning could release the system from the ground and damage the inlet and outlet tees. High water levels may also destroy or fill the covered pit which could cause significant damage to the entire system, resulting in expensive repairs once the ground water recedes. So do not pump the tank when it is flooded as this will not resolve any issues. Vacuuming should only be done when water levels fall back to normal and the tank is completely inspected by professionals.
  • Instability – Aging cesspools are a major dilemma in older suburbs across the United States. There are approximately sixty million homes with old cesspools that are susceptible to collapse without showing any prior warning signs. Old tanks have the potential to become killer sinkholes due to their instability and could cause injury or even death to anyone falling into the hole. Aging septic pits are prone to collapse immediately after pumping because there is no pressure against the walls. So vacuuming should be done very carefully once the condition of the tank has been inspected by trained personnel.
  • Scum Levels – It is not recommended that a septic tank be pumped if the particulate matter has sunk to the bottom and the floating scum layer is at a minimal level. Vacuuming should only be done if there is a need to inspect for damage or to make repairs. Contacting a trained specialist to measure the scum and sludge level would be beneficial before any suctioning is done. If the result shows the levels to be minimal, then vacuuming the waste should be rescheduled to a later time.
  • Inspection/Tests – When a house is being sold, a seller will hire a vacuum truck to pump the tank after the inspection and dye test has been performed on the system. Although this is a nice thing to do on the part of the seller, it is not the right action to be taken because it might overshadow existing problems and lead to expensive surprises for the buyer when moving into a newly purchased house. Vacuuming should not be done prior to an inspection or a dye test as the results could be altered.

Indeed, one of the most important systems in a home is the septic tank and it is certainly vital to have it pumped at regular intervals to avoid clogs and increased accumulating waste products. Cost considerations as well as the health of the family, community and environment are only a few of the reasons why pumping should be done periodically, being care to avoid any conditions such as those listed above when such action should be avoided. Although it does alter the normal frequency of waste removal from the septic tank, vacuuming should not be done under such conditions to avoid the risk of damaging the system and to prevent a collapse hazard from occurring!