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How Often Should My Septic Tank Be Pumped?

At Septic Service Pro, one of the most common questions we hear from septic system owners is, “How often should my septic tank be pumped?” Septic tanks are small sewage treatment containers that need to be cleaned. The problem is that these tanks are underground, making it difficult to know when it is ready to be emptied. Understanding how these tanks work and the importance of pumping can help prolong the life of your septic system.

What is the Purpose of a Septic Tank?

All the water and waste that goes down the drains in a home with a septic system goes into the septic tank. Septic tanks are the first step of treating waste for homes and businesses that are not connected to a municipal waste treatment system. These containers are usually made from concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene, and are buried under ground. Septic tanks vary in size, depending on the size of the home, usually holding 750-1250 gallons.

The purpose of a septic tank is two-fold. First, it is a container to hold all the waste from a home or business. Secondly, it is designed to allow solid waste to break down. As solid waste comes into the tank, it settles to the bottom. Bacteria feed on the waste, breaking much of it down into waste water called effluent. This water is siphoned off and goes to the next phase of sewage treatment – a drain field or mound system – that filters the effluent before it is added to the ground water below.

While many solids are broken down in the septic tank, there is residue that does not. This is called sludge, which builds up over the years. The more waste that is put into the tank, the quicker the sludge level rises. When the tank gets full, it needs to be emptied by a septic professional before it overflows in the treatment area (leach field or mound) or backs up into the home or business.

Frequency of Septic Pumping

How often you need to pump your septic tank depends on several factors. The size of your tank and how many people live in the home impact how often you need your tank emptied. On average, most septic tanks should be pumped every 3-5 years. However, this can vary. A small home with a small septic tank that has more people than bedrooms living in the home may have more waste.

To determine how often your septic tank needs pumping, consider the past history. Tracking how long it has been between pumpings in the past can keep you on track. Some large families may need their septic tank pumped every 1-2 years. Those who compost and limit water waste may have less accumulated waste in their septic tank and only need their tank cleaned every 5-6 years.

When you get your septic tank pumped, keep your receipts and make a maintenance file. This can help you keep track of when the last time your septic tank was cleaned. At Septic Service Pro, we will always provide you with written receipts for your record to help you keep track of your routine septic services.

What Happens if a Septic Tank Overflows?

What if your septic tank accumulates sludge quicker than normal and it reaches the full point? Once the tank is full, solids from the tank are more likely to overflow with effluent into the filtration area. Your drain field or mound system has perforated pipes that can become clogged if solids are released with the waste water. Solid waste can also create a biomat over a drain field, an organic formation that can block effluent from entering the ground.

If solids are overflowing into your drain or leach field, it is likely to have a bad odor. You may notice pooling water and a slimy substance (biomat) growing over the field. These are signs you need to have your septic tank pumped or there are other problems with your septic system.

Another problem caused by full septic tanks is sewage backups into the home. If the drains are slow in your home or sewage backs up when you flush the toilet, it could be due to a full septic tank.

Planning for Septic Tank Cleaning

It is best to have your septic tank pumped proactively instead of waiting for signs of trouble. Once you have lived in your home for several years, you should have an idea on how frequently you need to schedule cleaning. Make sure your septic tank lid is accessible and there is room for the tank truck to park near your septic tank opening. Most cleanings can be completed in about a half an hour unless repairs are needed.

When you schedule a septic tank pumping, an inspection of the tank is performed. This can ensure that all the equipment is working correctly. If there are worn out components, like the intake or outlet baffles, this is a good time to have them replaced. The septic service professional can make sure everything is working properly.

If you are not sure if your septic tank needs to be pumped or not, you can schedule routine maintenance. Our team at Septic Service Pro can inspect your system and septic equipment to ensure your system is performing correctly. We can also check the level of sludge in your septic tank. If it needs pumping, we can perform that service the same day as your routine service and inspection.

If you need your septic tank cleaned or pumped in northern Georgia, contact our experts at Septic Service Pro. We serve Cummings, Alpharetta, Buford, Duluth and the surrounding communities. We offer affordable, fast service when you need your septic tank cleaned, including emergency service if you are experiencing a tank overflow. Call us for a free quote for cleaning your tank or to schedule routine service. You can depend on our team to help keep your septic system working correctly and fix issues when needed.

Our Customer Reviews

Septic Service Pro


Based on 117 reviews

Jim is a true professional who worked with me over months to identify and correct septic field problems. His positive attitude and helpful discussion in resolving issues is the best I found.


Mike and Shane came out and did an outstanding job on replacing our septic pump. Same day service - and they came out on a Friday evening! Mother's day would not have been very happy if they didn't save the day. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!


We had our septic tank pumped and baffle tee replaced. The guys were on time, respectful and quick. They cleaned up very well after the job and even fluffed our pine straw to perfection!! We'd recommend these guys without hesitation.


Michael and Shane did an awesome job. Had to pump the septic,install a new baffle tee and tail out line. Very little yard displaced. Will definitely use Septic Service Pro again. Very pleased.


We live in Dawsonville. The crew that came out was very professional. The company owner explained to me the value and the many details about the septic that I did not know, that is why I chose them in the first place. Excellent service. R.McGary


Jim and his crew installed a new leech field for us quickly and professionally at a very reasonable cost. They handled all of the permitting and inspections and completed the work in a timely manner. Would recommend them to anyone.


Michael and assistant pointed out a leaking toilet that I didn't know I had (saved me $ there!). They also disturbed very little of the yard to get to the tank. Not the super cheapest but no hard upsell when they got here. Very pleased.


The team was efficient, friendly, knowledgeable and FAST to arrive. The bill was extremely reasonable for the work needed to be done. I would HIGHLY recommend Septic Service Pro.


These guys were amazing. Jim and Mike came when they said they would, did the job, explained everything they did. Very courteous,and professional. I am a handicapped person and felt extremely comfortable with them at my home. Thank you!!!!!


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Septic Service Pro Cumming, GA

Cumming Office

562 Lakeland Plaza, Suite 202
Cumming, GA 30040

(678) 899-6457

How to get to Cumming Office

Buford Office

6295 Holly Court
Buford, GA 30518

(678) 899-6457

How to get to Buford Office

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