Approximately 25% of homes in the United States use a septic system, but how many realize how often they should be cleaned? Septic cleaning is seemingly little-understood, but do you ever take a moment to think about what all is going into your tank?
Septic tanks get used far more than you might realize. The average American home uses about 70 gallons of water per person. Every day. All of that water goes into your septic tank. Typically, your tank should hold about two days of wastewater, as that’s the approximate time it will take for solids to settle and the water will be able to filter through.
Adding to the complication, however (and increasing the need for septic cleaning), is if your home has a garbage disposal. Using a garbage disposal is great, as you can more or less just chop up your leftovers and send them down the drain after dinner. However, it also increases the amount of solids you put into your wastewater. In fact, garbage disposals add about 50% to the amount of solids you’re trying to get rid of, but all of those solids just end up in your septic tank. That’s bad.
When all of these solids build up in your tank, it’s time to consider pumping your septic tank. Depending on your tolerance for bacteria, it’s either unfortunate or very fortunate that a do-it-yourself septic cleaning is both difficult and not recommended (and in some cases it may well be illegal). The hazardous waste that comes out needs to be properly disposed of at a sanitation disposal center, and transporting a layer of waste-water scum and sludge in the back of your sedan is…less than ideal. In any case, there are thousands of companies nationwide who do this: Septic tank pumping, aeration systems, and related hose and pump services.
Getting your septic cleaned is a matter of finding a reputable company in your area and determining how much you’re willing to spend — look for companies who offer free estimates. The national average is between $350-$400, depending on your local market. However, it seems a small price to pay in order to allow your toilets to freely flush again. The risk is simply not worth the cost.