Why Pump Out Your Septic Tank?

Certainly if you live in a small town, or in a rural area, the chance is good that you rely on an “onsite sewage disposal system”, or septic system, for disposal of your household liquid waste. Your home’s system funnels all wastewater – sewage, gray water from sinks, showers, washing machines, etc., and the occasional leftover foodstuffs – out of your home into one main sewer pipe, which then enters your septic tank. The septic tank is a settling chamber which entraps the solids within it until they can later be removed during routine septic tank servicing. The liquids, of which there are many thousands of gallons over the years, are filtered through the tank and on out to your disposal field, which then gradually disperses this excess water into the surrounding prepared soil, and eventually into the groundwater supply.


It is essential to have your tank cleaned every few years, depending on the size of the tank and the occupancy levels in your home, to prevent the solids from building up in the tank and escaping, along with the water, into the soils of your dispersal field. Once the soils in your dispersal field have become saturated with solids, it is difficult or impossible to reclaim them and thereby save your dispersal field.

When to Pump Out Your Tank

The table below shows recommended pumping intervals in years, taking into account levels of usage and the size of the tank in question:


Table here


Maintaining your septic system through regular pump-outs is the most cost-effective way to avoid having to spend many thousands of dollars in replacement costs. When a septic system has to be replaced, not only must the area of the system itself be disturbed, but often expensive landscaping remediation becomes necessary, as well. With modern building methods and materials, a properly installed and maintained system can, and should, last for decades.

Symptoms of Failure

Our office personnel are often asked to describe the symptoms of a septic disposal field failure. While symptoms can vary, there are some classic signs to watch for:

  • You notice a bubbling in your toilet while your sink or tub is draining.
  • You notice that your toilet is slow to flush, or flushes upward instead of downward for a few moments, or backs up and overflows.
  • Tubs and sinks take longer to drain, and you may hear gurgling in the pipes while they are doing so.
  • You may detect sewage odours indoors, or outside in the area of the septic system, either directly after a significant amount of water has been drained into the system (from a shower, a tub, or a washing machine), OR after a significant rainfall.
  • Black or gray liquids can be spotted surfacing in the area of the tank or of the dispersal field.
  • The tank levels at the outlet pipe are higher than the pipe itself, indicating that wastewater is not draining properly through the dispersal field lines and out into the surrounding field area. This widespread “ponding” is a strong indication of a general dispersal field failure.


Some of these symptoms can be completely alleviated by having the septic tank cleaned. But some, unfortunately, cannot be remediated without a complete repair of the dispersal field. When you call us to service your septic tank, we are able to tell whether your problems are localized within your tank and are easily solved through cleaning, or whether the situation is more serious and a completely new system may be needed.

Call Us

Serving South Nanaimo to Deep Bay

Qualicum & North:         250-752-2921
Parksville & Nanoose:   250-248-3833
Lantzville & Nanaimo:   250-390-2009

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