How to Care for Your Septic System

Septic system maintenance is not complicated, and it does not need to be expensive. Upkeep comes down to four key elements:

  • Inspect and Pump Frequently

  • Use Water Efficiently

  • Properly Dispose of Waste

  • Maintain Your Drainfield

Inspect and Pump Frequently

The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year. A service contract is important since alternative systems have mechanized parts.

Four major factors influence the frequency of septic pumping:

  • Household size

  • Total wastewater generated

  • Volume of solids in wastewater

  • Septic tank size

Service provider coming? Here is what you need to know.

When you call a septic service provider, he or she will inspect for leaks and examine the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank.

Keep maintenance records on work performed on your septic system.

Your septic tank includes a T-shaped outlet which prevents sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling to the drainfield area. If the bottom of the scum layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet, or if the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet, your tank needs to be pumped.

To keep track of when to pump out your tank, write down the sludge and scum levels found by the septic professional.

The service provider should note repairs completed and the tank condition in your system’s service report. If other repairs are recommended, hire a professional


If you use a septic tank for waste disposal, you know that there is a level of maintenance required to keep things in working order. At Superior Septic, LLC we frequently have customers ask how often they should have their septic tank pumped. The short answer is that most tanks should be pumped every 3 years. However, here are a 2 factors that may affect this number and require you to have your tank pumped sooner.

Tank Size

If you know that your tank is smaller than the typical size, you should invest in having the tank pumped more often. On the flip side, if you have a large tank and are not using the system as often, you can probably wait a little longer than three years. We can provide guidelines on suggested pumping timelines by tank size.

Number of People in Your Home

If you have a larger family or frequently have visitors staying at your home, your septic system is probably experiencing a higher volume of usage than normal. If you are concerned about sewage backup, you may decide to have your tank pumped prior to an expected time of heavy usage.

You will want to make sure that you are pumping your system enough but not too often. Waiting too long to pump can lead to system overflow, which will result in costly repairs and possibly even failure. However, pumping too often can also be a bad thing. Though you typically won’t be doing damage to your system, you will be wasting money. As the local professionals of septic tank pumping in Duluth, we will help you stay on track and keep your system running smoothly.

Always check the lids on your Septic tank

Double-check those lids and keep homeowners informed of the risks of neglecting tank maintenance.

As of yesterday, I have worked on Pumper magazine for two years. In those two years, I’ve read several stories about adults, children and animals falling into septic tanks. Some were scared but unhurt, some were injured, and sadly a few of those stories ended in death.

I’m disappointed to say I have read two of those stories in the last two weeks. On April 1, a report circulated about a two-year-old boy who fell into a grease waste tank at a car wash. The child had wandered away from his mother when she was washing her car and fell into the partially open tank. He was found and CPR was attempted but the child was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

On April 6 I saw a similar story: a two-year-old boy fell into a septic tank through an unsecured lid. This boy met the same fate as the first one. He was found in the tank after a sheriff’s deputy spotted a septic lid that wasn’t sitting properly; medical personnel were unable to revive him.

Related: Pump That Septic - Pumper Magazine Video Profile - March 2011 

As the uncle of one of the boys stated: “This should have never happened … never.”

These tragedies are yet another reminder that septic systems need to be inspected and maintained safely. Lids need to be secured properly and regularly monitored. A lot of this responsibility is placed on the pumper. Pumpers also need to stress to homeowners the need to have regular maintenance done on their septic tanks. Make sure customers realize that new lids and risers are a small investment to make when a faulty lid could mean risking their child’s life – or the life of someone else’s child.

Double-check those lids and keep homeowners informed. I don’t want to read any more of these stories in the coming years. Saves money on Restoring your Drainfield rather than replacement. No Need to replace

No matter how well you take care of your septic system, it’s inevitable that there will come a day where your systems will fail. While it’s not something we want to think about, it’s a good idea to understsand what causes the problems and what you can do to fix them so that when that day comes you can be ready.

Although there are a number of reasons that can cause your septic system to fail, it all ends up coming back to the drainfield. A drainfield that is running properly treats the sewage by providing a setting for soil organisms to clean the effluents, and in order to do this, oxygen must be present.

Over time, as your system starts to age and gain some wear and tear, clogging tends to start happening where the rock and soil meet. This clogging mat is comprised of live soil bacteria, dead bacteria and fine solids, and as the system continues to run, the biomat becomes too thick, causing the water to pool in the rock. The liquid build up then displaces air and the soil treatment system begins to decline.

Even if your septic system is checked religiously and you take good care of it, your septic system will eventually need replacement or rehabilitation, and that’s where Atlanta Terralift comes into play.

What is Terralift?

Terralift is a technological breakthrough when it comes to soil restoration. It solves soil problems such as improper drainage, compaction and saturation, all without disturbing the ground surface. Within just a few hours, years of life and health can be added to your septic system, and it is practically hassle-free.

Terralift uses a long, narrow probe that penetrates the soil to depths of around 3 to 6 feet. These probes then force air into the soil at a controllable rate, fracturing the soil and, in turn, creating an aerobic condition.

Terralift is one of the top septic solutions in Metro Atlanta because it performs faster, cleaner and easier than any other method available, all while reducing your costs and keeping your property pollutant-free. As this is happening, polystyrene pellets are injected into the freshly aerated soil, maintaining the structure of the passages for the filtration of liquid away from the problem area.

Both the air and pellets will move horizontally and vertically throughout the passages, keeping the passages open and ensuring proper transpiration on a long-term basis.

Benefits of Terralift

Still not sure if Atlanta Terralift is the septic solution for you? Here are some of the major benefits of utilizing this method:

Saves you a tremendous amount of money. The cost of having your landscape dug up and serviced or replaced will cost you an arm and a leg, and most homeowners would prefer to avoid that if possible. Using Terralift allows homeowners to service their drainfields without having to tear up your property, saving you tons of money.

Noninvasive. As stated above, the Terralift procedure is noninvasive and does not require major landscape construction. All that’s left behind when Terralift is done are a few holes in the drainfield that will close up over time. 

Immediate results. Like any home problem, when you have a septic issue, you want it taken care of right away. Terralift does just that. Terralifting your entire drainfield takes very little time compared to other methods.

Fewer complications. Due to Terralift not being a complicated procedure, there are much fewer complications when it comes to performing it, ultimately avoiding an even larger disaster with your septic system.

Long lasting results. Once Terralift is performed on your drainfield, you can be sure that the results will last long into the future, making it even more worth your money. Terralift is not a temporary fix by any means.

If your drainfield is not cooperating, it’s best to talk with your local septic professionals who can help get your drainfield problem under control. This will save you time, money and frustration in the long run.


These solids either settle to the bottom of the tank, known as sludge, or float to the surface and become a scum layer. The clear liquid or effluent is then passed on to additional treatment processes or is distributed to the soil absorption area, such as a sand mound. Removing the solids from the wastewater in the septic tank protects the soil absorption area from clogging and failure. Up to 50 percent of the solids retained in the tank decompose; the remainder accumulates in the tank. Biological and chemical additives are not needed to aid or accelerate decomposition.

Properly sized septic tanks are large enough to safely store up to three years of sludge and scum. If you go beyond three years and the tank fills with sludge and scum, the clear wastewater is retained in the tank for less time because there is less space in the tank for the liquid to remain there. As this occurs, the solids removal process becomes less effective and more solids escape into the soil absorption area. If too much sludge accumulates, the solids will flow to the soil absorption field causing system failure. System failure can lead to wastewater coming to the surface of your yard causing hazardous wet areas or it could cause wastewater to back up into your home.  To prevent this, the tank must be pumped periodically. The material pumped is known as septage.

The frequency of pumping depends on several factors: capacity of septic tank, volume of wastewater (related to size of household), and amount of solids in the wastewater (for example, use of garbage disposals produce more solids).

Homeowners should get in the habit of having the septic tank pumped on a routine basis. If you are able to have your septic tank pumped on a schedule, such as every 2 years, it may be possible to further enhance the effectiveness of your entire onlot wastewater disposal system. Research at Penn State has shown that your soil absorption system will benefit from periodic resting (a period during which no wastewater is added to the system). To get the greatest benefit from pumping your septic tank, it is recommended that you have your septic tank pumped every two years on the day before you, and your family, leave for your summer vacation. This means the whole system, especially the soil absorption area, will have the opportunity to dry out and any partially decomposed organic waste that may have moved into the soil absorption area will quickly decompose in the absence of water.

A 900 gallon septic tank is the minimum size that may be used for a home with three bedrooms or less. If six people reside in a three-bedroom house, the tank should be pumped every 1.3 years. If the same system serves a family of two, the tank would need pumping every 5.2 years. Systems installed before the current rules and regulations were implemented may need to be pumped more often, perhaps every year or less.