How to Know When Your Septic Tank Needs Cleaning

Most septic tanks need to be pumped out about every 10 years. However, this is no guarantee that you won't need your septic pumped much sooner than that. It can be an expensive maintenance project, so make sure you don't have to do it until it's absolutely necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Boiling water

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Ensure that a blocked drain isn't your culprit first. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar followed by a generous shake of baking soda and then a tea kettle full of boiling water down each drain in your home. This should dislodge any plugs your drain may be experiencing.

Observe your bathtub drain and toilet when you let water out of your bath. A plugged septic tank will cause the water to gurgle back up a bit either in your toilet or back into the bathtub drain itself. Your kitchen sink may react the same way.

Take note of odd toilet flushes. When you flush your toilet, see if water backs up into your bathtub or in strange places like a patio or driveway drain. If so, this is a sign of a blocked septic tank.

Wash a load of laundry and take note of any soapy water coming up into the toilet, bathtub or any other drain in your home. This again is a symptom of a blocked septic tank.

Locate your septic tank area outside. A blocked septic tank will often give off a putrid odor and, in serious cases, will even begin to back up dirty septic waste water into your yard. This means your septic tank has serious issues and someone needs to be called in to clean out your septic tank right away.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use an enzyme treatment specifically made for encouraging good bacteria in your septic tanks. This helps to promote faster breakdown of waste thereby prolonging the time between costly septic cleanings.
  • Do not allow grease to go down your sink drains.
  • Observe that your children do not flush items down the toilet or drains in your home. This can make for a quick septic issue as even if they pass through the system, they are not made to breakdown like toilet paper.


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