Your Septic System Is Clogging – Should You Still Have It Pumped?


If you've owned a septic system for a long time, you know that the golden rule is to stick to a regular pumping schedule. Pumping your tank out helps to control the level of solid sludge that settles to the bottom of the tank, preventing this waste from clogging your septic drain field. Waiting too long to pump your tank can cause numerous issues, including blockages and sewer backups.

Unfortunately, sticking to this schedule is often easier said than done. Your septic system remains (thankfully!) out of sight and out of mind most of the time, so it's easy to miss an appointment. Of course, if you wait too long, you'll likely begin to run into some messy issues. If you're already behind on your scheduled maintenance and your system is beginning to clog, is it too late to have it pumped out?

What Happens When You Don't Pump Your Tank?

Your septic system is an environmentally-friendly and natural method for dealing with waste. Your tank contains helpful microfauna (bacteria and other organisms) that help to control sludge levels. These tiny animals live in the solid waste in the tank, ensuring that it remains at relatively safe and stable levels. While sludge will inevitably build up over time, your tank ecosystem stops it from happening too quickly.

This role is important because your drain field can only handle liquid waste. This waste, known as effluent, flows through drain tiles in your drain field, where the soil and different bacteria work to break it down and make it safe. If solid waste reaches your drain field, it will clog these drain tiles and potentially create an anaerobic environment that will kill helpful drain field bacteria.

Pumping your tank is essentially a way to prevent the tank's ecosystem from becoming overwhelmed. If you leave your tank long enough, solid waste will eventually go to the drain field or back into the tank's inlet pipe. In either case, you can expect your system to clog up, and, in a worst-case scenario, you may cause severe damage to your drain field.

Should You Pump a Clogged Septic System?

Routine pumping is always the best option, but it may not be too late if your system already shows signs of clogging. First, you'll want to have an experienced septic tank company examine your system and determine the underlying cause of the clog. If they determine that your system is overloaded, pumping your tank will often be the next step.

Cleaning your tank is crucial because you want to stop the flow of more waste into your drain field. Once your tank is clean, a septic services company can perform an inspection to check for more damage. Often, cleaning out your tank (and clearing any obstructions in your plumbing caused by the overfilled tank) will be sufficient to get your system running again.

Even if your overfilled tank has caused additional damage to your septic system, pumping and thoroughly cleaning the tank will always be the first step to restoration. No matter how bad your current situation seems, you should never wait to pump a septic tank that's overflowing and overdue for a cleaning.

For help with your septic system, contact a septic service in your area.


29 March 2023

Fast Facts and Deep Insights: Septic Edition

As you read the articles on this website, you will notice two things. First, they are all about septic services in some ways. Second, some go deep — and others are full of more surface-level facts. This is kind of like your septic system itself! The tank is buried deep, but the drain field is more superficial. You don't have to be an expert on septic systems, but as someone who owns one, you should at least know how to tell when something is wrong with yours so you can call for service. You'll get that level of understanding from this blog — and probably more!