How often should a septic tank be emptied?

You know that tank sitting underground that collects all your waste ? Commonly referred to as a septic tank. Well, guess what? That tank does not empty itself!

A septic tank is a chamber located underground that is normally used as an onsite sewage facility. This is often used in rural areas where a sewerage system is not easily accessible. Septic tanks work to separate floatable matter by digesting organic matter from water waste. It can also be used in homes to collect household waste.

Why is it important to empty a septic tank?

Septic systems need to be cleaned often, every year for small tanks. This is because leaving the septic tank uncleaned and forgetting to empty it can cause a range of problems. The build-up of antibacterial substances and toxins fights against the vital bacteria needed in a septic system to function. This is why it is vital that the septic tank needs to be fulfilled.

Legal Obligation

Additionally, you have a legal obligation to ensure the maintenance of your tank is upheld as forgetting to empty your septic tank can not only impact you but others on the site and surrounding areas.

The lifespan of Septic Tank

As a general rule, keeping up the maintenance of your equipment increases the lifespan of the tank. This is applicable to septic tanks as if your tank gets clogged up this might result in the failure of the septic system consequently reducing its lifespan.

Environmental Impacts

 Looking after your septic tank means looking after the environment. This is because an unkept tank will overflow and liquid waste will leak into the environment. This is detrimental as viruses and pathogens harmful to the environment are let loose. When the liquid escapes to the outside of the system it results in prolific plant growth resulting in algae blooms. This sometimes causes the growth of toxic cyanobacteria which leads to lowered water quality consequently hurting the animals and possibly causing human poisoning.

Spread of harmful diseases

An ill-maintained septic system causes improperly treated sewage and wastewater. This results in the possible spread of harmful diseases like hepatitis as pathogens get into drinking water.

Financial problems

A leaking septic system causes a range of issues that takes a lot of money to fix. Another financial problem due to a septic leak is the decrease in property value. The drainage problem and the odour problem will significantly impact the value of your property.

A further financial aspect to think about is that spending money on the upkeep of the septic tank means saving on future costs relating to fixtures. The process of pumping a tank largely outweighs the expense of a completely new tank.


Are there any warning signs that your tank needs to be pumped?

There are a number of signs you will pick up on which indicates that it is time to perform a septic tank pump. We will look at the top 5 reasons.

Sluggish drains

A sluggish drain is a good indicator that you are in need of septic tank pumping. If you start noticing that your toilet doesn't flush properly or that sink is not draining then that is a sign you need your septic tank pumped.

Ignoring this problem can become extremely expensive and difficult for the people living or working there.


A major use of a septic tank is to contain odour-causing gases within the tank. So when you start smelling the foul smell that is a good indication that something is not right.

Quite often gases start coming through drains or bathrooms. The smell can also be picked up from around the construction site where the septic tank leak has occurred.

Green lawn over drainfield

The leakage from the septic tank will spill onto the nearby lawn which often results in a lush and green lawn. If you start noticing that a certain section of your yard is much more luscious looking then this is a good indication of a leak in your tank.

This is because the lawn is receiving fertilizer from the waste liquid that has escaped from the septic tank. This could potentially result in a hazardous situation or unsafe environment.

Water pooling

water pooling

If you start to notice water pool up in areas around your property especially in close proximity to the septic tank then this is a sign that you need your septic system pumped. If this happens then it can lead to the sewage backing up back into the household. This would be detrimental for the people who live there and is especially worse for those in older homes.

Sewage backup

One of the worst signs that your septic tanks need pumping is when the sewage starts backing up into the homes.

If you experience this then immediately stop using the area and contact a septic service.

To prevent the above problems you should set up a regular pumping and inspection calendar. If you maintain your septic tank system well enough it can run successfully for thirty to fifty years.


How is a septic tank system emptied?

Only professionally registered individuals can perform a septic tank pump. You should not ever attempt to explore your septic tank as it emits hazardous gas and is dangerous.

To get your septic tank pumped you need to locate the tank first. This should not be too difficult however a pumping contractor can help you with this. However, if you are looking to locate it yourself here is a list of things to look for to make the hunt a bit easier:

  • Located away from the house foundation
  • Use a probe bar to find a septic system (Do not do this if the septic tanks are made of polyethene or fibreglass
  • Local authorities have sit sewage plan which you can ask for and will show the exact spot.


Is there an ideal septic system pumping frequency?

The ideal septic tank pumping frequency will vary depending on a number of factors from the size of the tank to the maintenance of septic tanks. Let's take a look at a couple of things that impact the frequency of septic pumping.

Treatment and maintenance of septic pumps

Creating and following a regular treatment and maintenance routine is an essential activity that must be done to increase the time between pump-outs.

To ensure ease of maintenance, make sure to avoid planting trees or making driveways above the septic system.

Number of people in the household

The number of people living in your household affects the amount of waste that enters the system which directly influences how quickly the septic tank fills up. The more people you have the more frequent septic tank pumping you require.

Size of septic tank

The smaller your tank is the more you will need to get your septic tank pumped. However, this does not mean you need to go get the largest tank you can find. Instead, organising a treatment routine that matches your tank size is an easier and cheaper solution.

What's in your drain?

Quite often we don't pay attention to what we push down our kitchen sink. Although, this is an important aspect that impacts the upkeep of septic systems.

You should stay away from flushing non-biodegradable material like wet wipes or dental floss. These materials do not belong there.

Also, stay away from putting chemical-based cleaning products down the drain. For example, certain laundry detergents are harsh chemical products and they kill the good bacteria in your septic tank. This impacts the septic system's ability to break down waste.


Talk to a professional

However, if you are tight on time and want some help with your septic tanks then get in touch with our expert team at 1300 691 912 or email our projects team.

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