Photo of septic tank sludge and scum layer being broken up prior to septic tank cleanout. What to Check During Septic Tank Pumping

  • INSPECT the SEPTIC TANK DURING PUMPING - CONTENTS: Septic Tank inspections while tank pumping - inspection points give critical information about the septic tank and about drainfield condition. Check for back-flow into the septic tank from the drainfield during septic tank pumpout
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about what to look for during septic tank pumpout or cleanout operations

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Septic tank pumping procedure: checkpoints during tank pumpout:

Septic tank inspection during tank pumpout: key information about the drainfield status can be discovered during the actual time that the septic tank is being pumped. We explain this here. This septic tank pumpout article series provides a step by step, photo-illustrated guide to opening, pumping, and inspecting septic tanks, how a conventional septic tank is located, opened, pumped out, cleaned, and inspected.

This guideline is intended for septic pumping tank truck operators and as general information for homeowners or septic service companies concerned with septic system care.

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What to Inspect at the Septic Tank During Pumpout

A Photographic Guide to Pumping a Septic Tank

PHOTO of an septic tank during tank pumping.The steps in servicing a septic tank are listed and described in this article series, accompanied by photographs that show each of the critical steps in pumping, cleaning, and inspecting a septic tank.

This is a chapter of SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECTION & MAINTENANCE COURSE an online book on septic systems.

Inspection Points During Septic Tank Pumping

During Septic Tank Pumping:

  • Noise of drainfield back-flow: if the septic tank pumper observes (or hears) septic effluent flowing back into the septic tank from the tank outlet pipe this is a sure indication that the drainfield or soil absorption system is waterlogged, and indicates a system failure needing further investigation.

    That's because normally effluent flows from the septic tank outlet towards the drainfield. If effluent is flowing backwards, it means there is standing water in the drainfield and it is flooded and not working. The drainfield could be flooded by local surface runoff, groundwater, or because the leach field no longer is passing effluent out rapidly enough.
  • When to listen: from the beginning of the pump-down cycle to the end, but a clever pumper truck operator might stop the truck pumping (if noise is too close to the tank) when the effluent in the septic tank is just below the level of the outlet line leaving the tank.

    This is when we would first hear and most-likely hear back-flow from the drainfield. If we wait until the whole tank is empty, we may have waited too long, and the water or effluent that was sitting in the drainfield may have already emptied itself into the septic tank (and been pumped out to the truck).
  • The photo shows a concrete septic tank during pumping. As the effluent level dropped below that of the bottom of the tank baffles, we stopped pumping briefly to listen for the sound of effluent flowing back into the tank from its outlet.

    Septic tank pumping is best performed from an access cover at the center of the tank if one is provided (as in this photo). This gives best access to the pumper to clean sludge and debris from all areas of the tank bottom.

Below at in the form of individual detailed articles are the Steps in Septic Tank Cleaning Procedure in the order that they should be performed


Continue reading at WASH SEPTIC TANK SIDES/BOTTOM or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

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INSPECT the SEPTIC TANK DURING PUMPING at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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