The Scoop On The Poop: When Not To Pump Your Septic Tank

Most septic tank owners are well versed on how often to pump their septic tank, whether by yourself or with a company, like 24 Hr Emergency Septic Service. Allowing the tank to get too full results in less space for clear wastewater inside, leading to an over-accumulation of sludge.  By then, your septic tank solids can flow into the soil absorption area, turning your yard into a very undesirable swamp. Or worse, wastewater backs up into your home. Incredibly, there are times when you should not pump your septic tank. Here are three critical times when pumping the septic tank can be dangerous or cause damage to your septic system.

Right Before Buying A Home

It might seem courteous when the sellers of a home have the septic tank pumped for you before you move in. Out with the old and in with the new, so to speak. A normal part of the home buying process includes a home inspection, and a home with a septic tank will require an inspection and test as part of that. As a buyer, you need to know the location, age, and condition of the septic tank, including what type of equipment is involved.

Unfortunately, a freshly pumped, completely empty tank prevents the inspector from:

  • Using a dye test to find evidence of a backup or breakout in the drain field or yard.
  • Discovering potential failures to the septic system
  • Predicting problems when the tank later becomes filled after you move-in

When you're considering buying a home with a septic tank, make sure the home inspection occurs while the tank is untouched. This way, there are no surprises with your septic system after you move in. Then go ahead and have it pumped after it passes and you take possession.

During Area Flooding

If your area just experienced a hurricane or other heavy rainfall or flooding and ground water is very high, do not pump your septic tank. During this time an empty tank is prone to being filled with mud, silt and floodwaters that have to be removed during the cleanup process.  Or worse, your empty tank will actually become buoyant enough to float out of the ground, breaking septic piping. Once groundwater levels have returned to normal you can pump your tank if necessary.

When You're Uncertain Of Tank Age Or Condition

It seems logical that an old tank should be emptied because it could be full, but this is simply not the case. An older, fragile tank that suddenly becomes empty may collapse. Sometimes, a tank may be constructed of unknown material and could be otherwise damaged during the pumping process. Instead, have the tank and system inspected by a professional before having it pumped.