If you're moving into a home with a septic system, you'll need to take care of it. If you're used to living in homes that are connected to the city sewer, this maintenance requirement will likely be new to you. Thankfully, septic tanks don't require much maintenance overall, and the most important part of keeping them in good condition is having them pumped regularly. Removing solids from the tank prevents them from backing up into your home or clogging the drainfield, which can result in damage to your septic system. Read on to learn what you'll need to know about septic tank pumping.

Pump Your Tank Before Moving In or Shortly Afterwards

In order to avoid encountering problems with your septic system, it's a good idea to have the tank pumped before you close on the home or shortly afterwards. Since pumping a septic tank is inexpensive, most sellers will be happy to do it for you. You can only truly determine how full a septic tank is when pumping it out, so having it pumped will ensure that your septic tank is empty of solids and ready for you and your family to use.

How Often You'll Need to Pump the Tank Is Based on Your Usage

You can ask the previous owner how often they needed to have their septic tank pumped, but this information may not always be helpful. How often you need to have your septic tank pumped is determined by the size of the tank and how many solids you're flushing into it. If you use the garbage disposal more frequently, have a larger family or use more toilet paper than the previous owner, you'll need to have your tank pumped more frequently than they did.

After moving in and having the tank pumped, it's a good idea to have it pumped again in about a year. The septic tank pumping service can check the amount of solids in the tank, which gives you an idea of how quickly the tank is filling up. As long as the number of solids you're flushing into the tank remains relatively constant from year to year, you can base how often you'll need to pump the septic tank on how full it was after a single year of use.

Local Codes Can Affect How Often You Need to Pump the Tank

Depending on where you're moving to, local building codes or health codes may determine how often you'll need to pump your septic tank. For most places, this is every two or three years. Ask a septic system service in the area about any local regulations, since you'll need to follow them in order to avoid fines.

Frequent Septic Tank Pumping Allows You to Spot Potential Problems

Finally, having your septic tank pumped allows you to find problems with your septic system that would otherwise go unnoticed. A septic tank pump-out isn't a full inspection, but it can still spot problems such as slow effluent drainage—this can be a sign that your drainfield is failing. The baffles will also be inspected during the pump-out in order to make sure they're still in good condition. The baffles in the tank slow down the flow of water into the drainfield, which helps to prevent solids from entering it and causing clogs. Having your tank pumped according to schedule allows you to detect and repair problems with your septic system before they result in sewage backing up into your home.

Overall, moving into a home with a septic system requires a bit more maintenance than moving into a home connected to a municipal sewer. However, septic tank pumping services are inexpensive, and pumping your septic tank according to the schedule recommended by the pumping service is likely less expensive than paying city sewer fees. The most important part of keeping your septic tank in good condition is to find out how often you'll need to pump it based on your family's water usage, which a septic tank pumping service can help you with.