How to unclog a septic tank


It is possible to repair your septic system without digging up the tank or the drain field because the latter would cost thousands of dollars and create a mess in your yard — and the mess can take several weeks to repair.

Before cleaning, the frequency of pumping your septic depends on four factors, namely the household size, total wastewater that is generated, the volume of solids in wastewater and the size of the septic tank. Service providers will inspect for leaks and examine scum and sludge layers in your septic tank.

It is also advisable to keep or maintain a record of work that is being performed on the septic system. The T-shaped outlet on the septic tank will prevent sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling to the drain field area. The tank may need to be pumped if the bottom of scum layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet or if the sludge is within 12 inches of the outlet.

You might need the records in order to determine when to pump the tank. In that case, you can write down the sludge and scum levels found by the septic professional.

Here are some steps of unclogging your septic tank:

  1. Determine if there is actual damage: Professionals can obviously scope the drainage system to find out if there is internal breakage. Most systems will only require being cleared and cleaned of compacted sludge or waste accumulated over time.
  2. Problem is not mechanical: You may find out that you need bacteria to be added such that the bacteria will act as acid in order to digest blockages developed. But do not add chemicals during this step because they will only free up sludge and allow it to go further into your system. This will only make things worse.
  3. Find aggressive bacteria online and order more than recommended dose: Even many septic tank cleaning services do sell or come with bacteria that can be added in different situations. Strong bacteria will get into the system quickly to get your system working.
  4. Allow bacteria to do its job: Whether it takes few days or weeks depending on how much sludge you have in your tank, lines and field, allow it to do the job. If the system is old and neglected, it can take up to three weeks for bacteria to get the work. It will obviously multiply very quickly and eat everything organic on its path if it gets into the system. One advantage of using bacteria is they cannot harm the system as chemical agents can and often do.
  5. Read how bacteria work and do not let repairman tell you there is enough coli-form to break down waste: The latter is always not true since the day bleach, antibacterial soaps and harsh cleaners started being common in the waste and septic systems and septic tank cleaning services understand this fact. They thus will add in enough bacteria to digest waste and break it down.
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