Why septic systems must be pumped-as paper and waste enter the septic tank from your house, the solid matter will be held in the tank and break down into “sludge” over time, while the liquids continue on to the absorption area. Sludge is never meant to exit your septic tank, so it must be pumped out on a regular basis – you do not want the sludge to accumulate to the point where it starts exiting the tank toward the absorption area.
Waiting too long to pump is a bad idea-Sludge buildup is a slow process, so many people use their septic system for a long time before pumping it if they do not experience any back up – for most people its “out of sight, out of mind”.
We get many calls from owners with the same story: “my septic system is 20 years old and i have never pumped the tank out”. We are careful to let them know that the septic tank can be pumped now, however it may not solve the problem. (Ex: if sludge has entered the drainfield). To give you an example, the picture at the top of this blog post is of a sludge-filled pipe from a septic system whose owner waited too long to pump their septic tank.