Is It Time to Pump Your Septic Tank?

Septic tanks provide many years of trouble-free service. As a matter of fact you wouldn’t even know they exist unless you stop to consider where your liquid waste might end up! Seriously though, septic tanks are pretty much trouble free but they actually do need to be pumped on a scheduled basis. The smaller the tank and the more people that inhabit the household the more often it should be pumped. Conversely, a larger tank or less people living in the home means it needs to be pumped less often.

Here is a recommended septic tank pumping schedule


Table I. Septic Tank Pumping Frequency in Years

Septic Tank Size


Household size – Number of Occupants
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Septic Tank Pumping Frequency in Years

500* 5.8 2.6 1.5 1.0 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1
750* 9.1 4.2 2.6 1.8 1.3 1.0 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.3
900 11.0 5.2 3.3 2.3 1.7 1.3 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.5
1000 12.4 5.9 3.7 2.6 2.0 1.5 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.7
1250 15.6 7.5 4.8 3.4 2.6 2.0 1.7 1.4 1.2 1.0
1500 18.9 9.1 5.9 4.2 3.3 2.6 2.1 1.8 1.5 1.3
1750 22.1 10.7 6.9 5.0 3.9 3.1 2.6 2.2 1.9 1.6
2000 25.4 12.4 8.0 5.9 4.5 3.7 3.1 2.6 2.2 2.0
2250 28.6 14.0 9.1 6.7 5.2 4.2 3.5 3.0 2.6 2.3
2500 30.9 15.6 10.2 7.5 5.9 4.8 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.6

NOTES to the Septic Tank Pumping Schedule Table:

  • Numbers in the septic pumping table indicate septic treatment tank pump out in frequency of every nn years for conventional septic tanks, and
    assuming for year-round occupancy of the residence. (This data does not pertain to simple holding tanks which
    retain all solid and liquid waste with no treatment no effluent disposal system.)
  • * These septic tank sizes are below the minimum size allowed in Pennsylvania and other jurisdictions. Florida septic tank pumping rules and Ohio septic tank
    cleaning rules may be more demanding.
  • Minimum septic tank sizes: Under current Pennsylvania law a 900 gallon septic tank is the minimum size that must 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 be ready for 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.
  • Garbage disposers will increase the frequency of pumping. For example, if this same three bedroom house with six residents had a garbage disposal and was generally producing a higher volume of wastewater, the pumping frequency would be calculated as follows:
    1.3 years – [(0.2) x 1.3 years] = 1.0 year. For more analysis of the effect of garbage disposers on septic systems
    see Garbage Grinders or Garbage Disposes and Septic Tank Maintenance
  • Typical Septic Tank Pumping Costs: A typical fee to pump a septic tank is $200. to $300 to pump a septic tank up to 1000g in size, provided
    that the tank pumping access port has been uncovered and is readily accessible.If the septic pumping contractor needs to find the septic tank
    and then excavate the septic tank pumping access opening, expect to pay an additional $350. to $400. provided that no extraordinary measures
    are needed. Prices vary somewhat by region. A part of the fee you’re paying your septic pumping contractor is the cost to dispose of
    the septage.
  • For an explanation of the meaning of sewage levels in the septic tank and how that information informs septic tank pumping frequency,
  • Portions of this information were provided by the Penn State College of Agriculture – Cooperative Extension. We have edited and added to the original septic tank pumping guideline material based
    on research and field experience testing, inspecting, and installing septic systems and based on study of other reference sources
    on septic system maintenance and design.

Table credits:


Dave Glick has been helping small business owners put their business on the Internet and spread the good word of their businesses since 2006. He takes pride in his writing style and enjoys writing articles to help the small business owner succeed. Visit my website, Facebook

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