When to Pump and Clean your Septic Tank

Disclaimer: We are not licensed plumbers or septic system experts. The article serves as a basic guide for vacation rental property owners in understanding the need to service and pump their septic tanks - and pump them more often than what is needed for a primary residence. We strongly suggest that if your property DOES have a septic system, have it evaluated, inspected, pumped, and serviced by a licensed and experienced septic tank company.

How Often Do You Need To Pump Out Your Septic Tank?

Let’s be honest: vacation guests are probably not all that careful with what they put in the kitchen/bathroom sink drains and what they flush down the toilet. Much of what goes down the drain may in fact damage the fragile septic “eco-system” preventing the normal and natural breakdown of solids so that the waste properly discharges in the septic leach field.

Let’s be even more honest: many rental properties are set up to “sleep” a lot more than they were originally designed, yet the septic tank and system weren’t upgraded to handle the additional people and their load!

This all adds up to you needing to pay much more attention to your septic system!

When solids don’t break down, they cause the septic tank to fill, and fill, and fill - and ultimately back up into the property. Obviously, no one wants that - especially your vacation guest! AND, if you let the problem continue, instead of just pumping the tank, you’ll likely have to replace the tank and replace the leach field.

So here is an even simpler question. Do you know how many gallons your septic tank is and when was the last time your septic system was serviced and pumped? If you don’t know the answer to these simple questions, you probably need to do so as soon as possible! 

Common Septic Tank Pumping Frequency Mistakes

Failure to pump the septic tank frequently enough can lead to an early drainfield failure and costly repairs. Pumping or cleaning the septic tank frequently may feel like a waste of money, but you're wasting a lot less money than what the cost of a new tank and drainfield is!

Most septic pumping contractors say to pump your tank at least annually, but that is for a full-time residence, NOT for a short-term vacation rental property. As we mentioned above, guests are probably going to be harder on your septic system than you would be in your own home. 

Let’s keep it simple. We strongly suggest that you pump the septic tank both before and after heavy use, and this should be done twice a year...in May and then again in November. Pumping the tank before and after periods of heavy usage can really help you avoid costly backups and loss of rental income!

A note about “septic additives.”

There are a lot of ads for products that you can pour down your drains or flush down your toilet to extend the life of your septic system and break down solids. Some of these do work; most don’t. But please remember these products are designed for residential applications and are not really effective for short-term vacation rentals. So unless prescribed by a licensed plumber or septic contractor, it’s not a good idea not to rely on such products to solve your septic and tank problems!

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