If you own a property with a septic system, you’re probably familiar with the terms “pumping” and “cleaning.” While these two words are often used interchangeably, the processes involved in pumping or cleaning a septic tank feature some significant differences. When you reach out to your preferred septic pumping service for system maintenance, here’s what you need to know about these two separate, important services that keep your system performing its best.
Typical environment of septic systems
Before you can understand the difference between septic pumping and cleaning, you need to get to know the important components of the septic environment—more specifically, the types of waste held within the system:
- Scum: Scum floats at the top of the septic tank. It’s the thinnest layer of waste, and is usually in the process of being broken down by the bacteria in the tank.
- Liquid: The liquid layer lies below the scum, making up the majority of the tank in terms of volume.
- Sludge: Sludge rests at the bottom of the tank. This is the solid waste that’s been broken down as far as possible by the bacteria in the tank.
A healthy, functioning septic environment should contain all three of the layers described above. If the layers aren’t in balance, and there’s too much of one or another, it can make it harder for the septic environment to break down waste. When this situation occurs, it’s best to call a septic pumping service for maintenance.
Your maintenance technician will determine whether pumping is the right solution to return balance to your tank. Pumping should be done every three to five years, and keeping on a regular schedule is the best way to prevent major problems.
During a septic pumping appointment, liquids and floating solids are removed from the tank. The technician will use a heavy-duty hose to vacuum solid and liquid waste. After the muck is out of the tank, the technician can use special tools and equipment to dislodge remaining waste, finishing the process by flushing the tank with water to ensure all effluent is removed. By returning balance to the biome in the tank, solid waste can be processed much more quickly, preserving the function of the tank and avoiding problems like backflow.
Septic tank cleaning, on the other hand, typically involves pumping all sludge and liquid from the tank. Cleaning is actually a much more involved process than pumping, and the end result is a totally reset tank.
Your technician will recommend a cleaning if your tank has exhibited problems like drain field issues or backflow. In some cases, cleaning may even require hydro-jetting, which can break up compacted solids that have settled at the bottom rather than decaying.
Need to schedule a septic pumping or cleaning appointment? Talk to Mike’s Septic & McKinley Sewer Services today. We’re your local septic pumping service professionals and can recommend the right procedure and maintenance solutions to preserve the reliable and efficient function of your system.