Skip to content Skip to navigation

How Often Should You Pump Out Your Septic Tank?

A very general rule is that you should have your septic tank pumped out every three to five years – but this varies greatly depending on your usage. With the right treatment and maintenance routine for your household you can add many years between pump outs.

Most states require inspections at regular intervals, but these inspections don’t always result in a pump out. While you can’t avoid mandatory inspections, you can reduce how often your septic tank needs to be pumped out by following the best practices in this article.

Why do you have to empty your septic tank?

Septic tanks are designed to hold waste so that beneficial bacteria can break it down and it can be discharged safely. Although the bacteria in your septic tank are very effective at breaking down waste, sometimes they aren’t able to completely digest everything. So the small amounts which remain in your tank build up over time – this is commonly known as sludge.

Eventually, the amount of sludge in your tank will exceed the recommended levels and will prevent your tank from operating at peak performance. This is when you need to have your septic tank pumped out. Failing to pump out your tank when it’s full can be a costly mistake as cleaning and repair bills can add up quickly.

Please keep in mind that sludge is not bad for your septic tank – in fact it won’t work without it. The sludge within your tank contains all the bacteria and enzymes that are essential to the waste breakdown process. Without these bacteria, your septic system won’t be able to break down waste and you will be wasting money on frequent pump outs instead of having your system do its job.

So it’s important, and more cost-effective, to only empty your tank when you need to and to restore and activate your system after you’ve had it pumped out.

What affects your septic tank pump out frequency?

1. Regular septic treatment and maintenance

One of the most important variables that affect how often you have to empty your septic tank is your maintenance or treatment routine. If you follow a regular treatment routine, it can add many years between pump outs. Our customers have extended their pump outs to more than 10 years.

2. Number of people in your household

The number of people in your home that use the septic system directly impacts how much waste enters the system and how quickly your tank fills up. The larger your household, the quicker your tank will fill up and the more you need a septic additive to boost your bacteria and improve the waste breakdown process.

If you have a small household of say just two people, with a treatment routine you may only need to have your septic tank pumped out once every decade. If your household is large, you can adjust your treatment dosage to counter the large amount of waste and reduce your pump out frequency.

3. Size of your septic tank

The smaller your septic tank, the more quickly it will fill up. This doesn’t mean that you should spend thousands on a larger tank if you’re pumping out your tank too frequently. Implementing a treatment routine with a dosage customised to suit your tank is much more cost-effective and far simpler.

4. What goes into your septic tank

The more careful you are with what you’re putting down your drains and into your septic system, the less frequently you’ll need to have it pumped out.

Non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes, sanitary products, condoms, dental floss and diapers should not be flushed down your toilet and can cause blockages that will require repair.

Harsh, chemical-based cleaning products will kill the bacteria within your septic tank, reducing your system’s ability to break down waste and will result in more frequent pump outs.

What can you do to reduce how often you pump out your septic?

1. Follow a septic treatment routine

A simple, inexpensive septic treatment routine will reduce your pump out frequency and add years to your system’s lifespan. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your system, implement a treatment plan that’s customised to your system, household size and your usage.

2. Cut down on harsh chemical cleaners

Eliminating the use of harsh chemical cleaners will have a huge impact on reducing your pump out frequency. Swapping to septic smart cleaning products that support the growth of your septic bacteria instead of killing them will keep your system running smoothly and effectively.

3. Don’t put rubbish into your system

Septic systems are designed to treat wastewater, not waste in general. Any rubbish that goes down your drains to your septic tank has the potential to cause a blockage that will require servicing or repairs.

How to tell if your septic tank needs to be pumped out

There are some early warning signs that your septic tank might need a pump out. While these are indicators that you may need a pump out, they could also be caused by other issues such as blockages or low bacterial populations. Read our article How to tell if your septic tank needs to be pumped out for more detail.

  1. Pooling water
  2. Slow drainage
  3. Smells
  4. Extra green grass
  5. Toilets or drains backing up

If you’re having any issues with your septic, AWTS or greywater system, get in touch with our wastewater consultants for an expert diagnosis done over the phone in minutes.

We have been using the product for over 15 years in our septic system and have had our system pumped out once in all that time and were told our system was the cleanest they had ever had to service.

Gerry Kelly

I love it, I clean everything with it. We have been using it for 11 years and only pumped out once, we where told it was so healthy.

Michelle Wright

We have two septic systems, both treated with EcoCare. Systems have remained trouble free and have not required to be pumped out since we started using the product 12 years ago.. An excellent product.

Bryant Ham

Provides the result that we hope for quickly and easily. No mess, no fuss, no smell, in fact the smell from our grease trap disappears. Our system has not been pumped out a decade or more.

Larry Greetham

What our customers are saying on Google

  • 5 star review  I have had huge problems with the structure of my tanks. The damage could not be repaired quickly and I needed help with the tanks to keep them able to... read more

    thumb Amanda Barnes
    February 9, 2021

    5 star review  We have been dealing with Ecocare now for several years. We had a very smelly problem with our septic system. Our Ecocare consultant was extremely helpful, always followed up on... read more

    thumb Graham Green
    November 19, 2020
  • 5 star review  I was struggling with my septic system when I first moved here from the city. EcoCare helped me with advice, and then the Activator product. I used the... read more

    thumb Lynn Takayama
    November 15, 2020

    5 star review  We have used Activator at home for many years and are very happy with is performance. We trialled the laundry detergent for the last couple months and also found it performed... read more

    thumb GARY LENKEIT
    September 20, 2020
  • 5 star review  I was recommended these products and so ordered them online and sent an email seeking extra information. I received a call back and the assistance and advice I got was... read more

    thumb Marnie Hamersley-Smith
    June 16, 2020

View more reviews on Google