Septic Pumping

Plumas Sanitation clients have their septic tanks pumped clean every 3-5 years on average for prudent maintenance measures that will increase proper functioning likelihood. Always take into consideration the following factors:

  1. Tank size/capacity
  2. Everyday usage - number of people in the home using facilities
  3. Leach field function
  4. Impact during holidays/special events
  5. Items inadvertently allowed down the sink
    (We urge our customers to avoid putting these items down pipes)
  1. Grease
  2. Food
  3. Feminine Products
  4. Baby Wipes
  1. Obvious problems with the System
  1. Slow draining toilet
  2. Sewage backing up into the bathtub
  3. Unusual odors
  4. Evidence of effluent outside the home

All of these factors should help determine when and how often to pump the septic tank. There are many variables to weigh and Plumas Sanitation is always available to answer questions and offer advice if you should require assistance.

The following information can be useful when checking on your septic system . . .

Septic Tank Leach Field

1. Locate your septic tank and remove both manhole covers. If you do not know the location of your septic tank, check with the County Health Dept. records, or look under your house for the 3" or 4" sewer line. Note where it passes into the soil and under the foundation. Dig down outside the foundation at the same location and follow the pipe to the tank or, noting the direction the pipe goes, use a metal probe (such as rebar) and probe the ground until found. The septic tank should be within 10-20 feet of the house, but might be further away. Generally, septic tanks are located 12-24 feet below the ground, but may be deeper. Remove glasses and other items from your shirt pockets before bending over the manholes.

2. Note the tees or baffles at each end of the tank.

3. Start at the end nearest the house (where the sewage comes into the tank). The brownish frothy looking matt is the scum layer. If the scum layer is level with the top of either tee (or baffle), or within 4" of the top of the tank, your tank needs pumping.

4. Take a long stick or board (T or 8') and separate the scum matt layer. If it is 10-12" thick, pump your tank regardless of the amount of sludge in your tank.

5. Next, push the board down into the tank. When you feel slight resistance, you have reached the sludge layer. Make a mark on the board level with the top of the tank. Push the board down until you reach the bottom of the tank. Mark the board as before. If you have at least 18" of sludge in the bottom of your tank, or if the sludge is within 6" of the bottom of the outlet Tee (or baffle), then it should be pumped.

Tank Level

7. Observe the level of liquid in the tank. If the level is higher than the outlet pipe, you may have a broken/clogged pipe, or failing leach field If the level is lower than the outlet pipe, you may have a leak in your septic tank.

8. Rinse the board over the manholes and dispose of the board in a manner so that it will not expose others to disease.

9. Replace manhole covers.

10. Make a drawing of the septic tank location with measurements from fixed points to each manhole cover. Keep it with your household papers.

11. Consider installing risers over manhole covers to facilitate pumping. Build them yourself or contact a septic system contractor for pre-built type.

12. Cover the manholes.