How do I know if my Prince William VA septic tank needs pumped out? We get this question on a regular basis from the customers we serve and we’re always happy when we do. It shows that our clients want to be proactive, rather than reactive and in our experience, that saves homeowners time and money.
If you’ve been wondering the same thing, then this article will make you smile, because we’ll answer it in a variety of different ways. You may be surprised to learn that there’s a lot more to the question than first meets the eye!
How Do I Know If My Prince William VA Septic Tank Needs Pumped Out?
The first thing to understand is that before we can answer that question, we’ve got to have a baseline, so we’ll start by answering with a question of our own. When was the last time you had your tank pumped out?
If you’re not sure or are scrambling to find the date, the safest course of action is to assume that it’s time and have it done as soon as possible. Then, with a fixed point on the calendar, start counting from there. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend having it done every three to five years.
While we’re pumping the tank, that’s also a great time to have your system inspected from end to end, which gives us the opportunity to spot problems while they’re still small or in their formative stages. For the most part, small problems are easier and less expensive to fix than big ones, which saves you time, headaches and money.
The important thing to remember though, is that every family is different, and the exact span of time between tank pump outs might be more or less than the general guideline above. That depends on a whole bunch of factors, but the biggest three are:
- How many people live in your house
- How frequently you have visitors who stay for several hours or overnight (long enough to use the bathroom at least once)
- And how good your septic tank habits are
That last item usually surprises people, but yes, there’s such a thing as septic tank habits. Mostly, this comes down to being mindful of exactly what is getting flushed down your toilets and poured down your sink drains.
When you live in a house that’s connected to a city sewage system, you don’t have to think or worry too much about it. You flush something that’s not supposed to be there and sure, it might clog your drain, but once you clear the clog and the offending material leaves your pipe, that’s it. You don’t have to deal with it anymore. It’s on its way to the sewage treatment plant where someone else will take care of it.
That’s not how things work if you live in a home with a septic system. Anything that gets flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink drain winds up in your tank, and the more inappropriate stuff that winds up in the tank, the more often you’ll have to have it pumped out. That’s why habits matter.
All of that is well and good, but there’s another important component to answering the question ‘How do I know if my Prince William VA septic tank needs pumped out?’
Unfortunately, septic tanks can’t send you a tweet or a text message when they start having trouble or when your tank starts filling up. That doesn’t mean they don’t try to tell you though – they do! It comes down to recognizing the signs of a septic system in trouble. Here are some of the more common things to be on the lookout for:
- The pipes behind your walls start making ghastly rattling and groaning sounds every time you flush a toilet or turn on one of your faucets.
- Your sinks drain very slowly, and may not drain at all, and none of your usual fixes seem to help.
- Your toilets won’t flush properly or completely and no amount of plunging seems to make any difference.
- You start noticing foul smells coming up from your sink drains and toilets.
- You start noticing those same foul smells in the area around your drain field.
- The grasses growing over your drain field are a notably brighter shade of green than the grasses growing everywhere else in your yard.
- There are areas of persistently muddy, soggy or squishy ground in and around your drain field, even after it’s been dry for several days.
None of these signs automatically mean that your septic tank is nearing capacity, but they’re all signs that your system is experiencing some type of trouble and here’s the thing about septic systems: Once they start having problems, those issues never go away on their own. In all the decades we’ve been in the business, we’ve never seen that happen.
Worse, by the time you start seeing the symptoms we listed above, whatever is causing them to appear, the problem has already become quite advanced. If you don’t take action immediately, you’ll wind up facing that nightmare scenario that no homeowner ever wants to see: Raw sewage backing up inside your house.