How often should you empty a household septic tank?

Written by mandi titus
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How often should you empty a household septic tank?
Regular septic tank inspection extends tank life. (hill image by Sergey Dyadechkin from

The South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension Service recommends pumping a septic tank every three to five years, based on tank usage and size. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests having a professional inspect a tank every three years, then pumping as needed based on the professional's findings.

With Sludge Buildup

SDSU explains that tanks with a scum build-up over 1 foot thick, or a sludge layer that covers more than a third of the tank, require pumping by a professional septic tank cleaner.

Bottom Line

According to the EPA, the amount of wastewater generated, the number or people in the household, the amount of solids in the tank, and tank size all play a role in when to pump a tank. Therefore, septic tanks require regular inspection. Once you've had your tank inspected, pump it as needed based on usage.

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