Determining your septic tank pumping frequency isn't an exact science. Many factors contribute to how quickly your tank fills, many of them which are unique to your family's usage patterns. Understanding what impacts the frequency of pumping can help you work out the best schedule for your system's needs.
Septic tanks come in many sizes, so you need to know yours before you can even begin to develop a pumping schedule. As a general rule, the larger the tank and the smaller the household, the less often you need to pump. The smallest tanks are only 750 gallons. The average tank size is about 1,250 gallons, which is suitable for the average four or five person household. If the tank is sized appropriately to your household and your usage patterns, then it will require pumping and cleaning every two or three years, on average.
Changes in your household size, along with the age of the household members, can also have an affect on the pumping schedule. Extended visits from house guests or lots of entertainment can result in heavier usage than one would expect from a normal four-person household, for example. Age can also have an affect. For example, household with young children tend to do more laundry, particularly if using cloth diapering, which can lead to a heavier load on the septic system. In this case, you may need to increase pumpings to every one or two year.
After tank and household size, your water usage habits will have the greatest affect on your pumping frequency. You can lower water use by installing water conserving appliances and components, such as low-flow toilets, water conserving shower heads, and faucet aerators that reduce the need for excessive water use. Further, avoid running water for no reason and get in the habit of only turning on the tap when the water is actively being used.
Finally, what you put down a drain affects the pumping schedule. If you are careful to only put wastewater, human waste, and septic-safe toilet paper into the tank, then the microbial balances will be able to process everything efficiently and you won't have to pump as often. On the other hand, if you use a garbage disposal or flush wipes or other hygiene products, the tank will begin to fill up prematurely and you will need to have it pumped more often.
Contact a residential septic system cleaning service for more help in developing a pumping and cleaning schedule that fits your needs.