Never need to pump my septic????

This is a question we were asked today, and one we have been asked repeatedly over the years.

The Backstory:
This person was recently solicited via telephone during which the caller assured them if they purchased and used a particular product, the septic owner would never need to pump their septic ever again. Ever. Again.


The Facts:
Anyone who says anything such as this is waving a giant red flag.  So be warned...

Septic systems are pumped out for a number of reasons.  Just for starters, the removal of accumulated sludge (which includes inorganic material, think fleece, sand, etc.), observing internal tank components to ensure their integrity and condition, having any required repairs scheduled and completed.  Best management practices are to have your septic system pumped and/or inspected by a licensed contractor every three to five years.

Let’s back up a little. 

It is important to fully understand how septic systems work.  Septic systems are designed to recycle wastewater produced in your home, cottage or business back into the environment.   A septic system functions on the principal of digestion of organic materials by bacteria.  The two components of the septic system are a septic tank and a leaching bed (also called a tile bed).   
Cross Section Septic Tank

In the septic tank (see diagram at right), bacteria metabolize solids, converting waste into mostly water, carbon dioxide, dead cell mass, and mineral ash. Effluent flows out of the tank and into the leaching field/tile bed where the effluent percolates into the soil.

The more efficient the system operates the less nutrient pollution goes into the environment. The more bacteriological activity in the septic tank the better the treatment of the waste in the tank and the longer the life of your leach field/tile bed. Of course, we recommend EcoEthic Septic Treatment to increase appropriate bacteriological activity.

Without proper septic system maintenance it can be dangerous for your family, pose a threat to public health or the environment, and affect neighbouring property owners.

Without pumping the tank regularly and having it inspected, you will have no knowledge of the condition of your existing septic system.

Exercise caution with anyone who tells you that you never need pump again.

1 comment

  • Dr Tony Taylor

    Living in Australia, I’m very fortunate* that we have municipal sewage treatment in virtually every population centre. This is reflected in the beautiful natural environment we enjoy. Looking at the USA last week using Google Earth, it was clear from satellite pictures that there aren’t any municipal waste water treatment systems. The result is open sewers that they call rivers and streams that are dark brown and must stink (e.g. the Hudson River/Sewer). The ocean waters are brown, pea green and cyan, not clear and blue like we have here.
    In remote areas of Australia and around the world reticulation of sewage in not economical, so on-site treatment and environmental discharge are the norm, so efficient operation of septic tanks and leachate beds is essential for public health to prevent water born diseases such as cholera, dysentery, giardiasis etc. and to protect the environment for ourselves and generations to come. Septic tanks fill up with solids over time, and as they do the volume of the liquid phase reduces. As the liquid volume reduces the hydraulic retention time (time of treatment) reduces so the effluent quality gets poorer. This extra nutrient load entering the next treatment stage: the leachate filed, clogs it further reducing the treatment time and final effluent quality. This enables diseases to survive the shorter time spent in the treatment system, which end up infecting children and the elderly and once the nutrient-rich effluent enters water ways it causes eutrophication, algal blooms, kills invertebrates and fish and the ecosystem collapses. Do you want sick children and to live beside a filthy festering bog that smells like sewage? Please don’t turn Canada into the USA.

    “fortunate” means that our society values public health and the environment over money.

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