At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What are the Different Types of Septic System Cleaning?

Klaus Strasser
Klaus Strasser

Keeping a septic system clean can be an important part of maintaining a sanitary and healthy residential space. There are many different types of septic system cleaning, however the basic idea is to pump or vacuum out the septic tank so that the entire system can function smoothly and efficiently. This can be necessary since waste tends to build up over time and may clog the unit. Sometimes pipes that connect the septic system to plumbing may also have to be cleaned.

A septic system generally refers to on-site sewage treatment typically used in areas where there is no connection to municipal waste disposal lines. Its main part usually consists of a septic tank that is buried underground. This may be connected, with pipes, to a plumbing system that is already linked to toilets, sinks, or other waste disposal equipment. The wastewater flows through the pipes into the septic tank. Inside the tank, the wastewater decomposes and is discharged into the soil around the septic tank.


An important part of choosing septic system cleaning methods can be determining the right time to clean the tank. This is generally done by considering the size of the septic tank, how many people use the system, and the time that has elapsed since the last cleaning. For example, for a standard-sized septic system used by four people, it is generally recommended to clean the tank once every five years.

Systems can often be cleaned by professional septic tank services. These businesses typically have the proper pumping equipment needed to effectively clean the tank. Cleaning septic tanks is regarded by some experts as dangerous, and cleaners usually work in a team, as opposed to individually. This is because a worker can be overcome by fumes, such as methane gas, that arise from the tank.

The septic tank usually has to be opened in order to be cleaned. Since it is located underground, the septic tank's port, or opening, is often at the top of the unit. Accessing this port can be done by excavating the dirt around the opening in such a way that prevents any unwanted dirt from falling into the septic tank, which can inhibit the cleanup process.

Pumper, or vacuum, trucks are generally used to transfer waste from the tank into a storage tanker. The vacuum line, or hose, is usually directly inserted into the septic system or attached to its cleaning port. This line then sucks the excess waste from the tank and transports it into the storage trunk.

Occasionally, a service technician may use a muck rake for septic system cleaning. The muck rake is used to stir the sludge in the tank, facilitating the pumping of it into the vacuum or pumper truck. Sometimes septic effluent may be mixed into the tank, in order to help decompose the waste and make the vacuum line more effective. Many times an alternative to a complete septic system cleaning can be accomplished with a muck rake or septic effluent, used separately or in combination, to simply minimize the buildup of waste in the tank.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Worker