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Why Should My Aerobic System be Pumped?

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Why should I have my aerobic septic system pumped?

When your maintenance provider recommends pumping your aerobic septic system, it should be done sooner rather than later: delaying pumpings can lead to negative effects on your system and cause more expense in the long run.

High sludge levels indicate need for aerobic pumping

Sludge tests in the aerobic tank are part of aerobic systems’ routine servicing (some companies, including Van Delden, also check the sludge level in the pump tank). When the sludge reaches a high level (approximately 50% to 60% in the aerobic tank) we begin recommending that the system be pumped out. If sludge is accumulating in the pump tank — which can indicate surges of water in the system — we may recommend an immediate pumping.

Routine aerobic pumping is critical

If the system is not routinely pumped, it will eventually have adverse effects on the system.

Your maintenance provider may recommend pumping in other circumstances, but there are several reasons your aerobic septic system needs to be pumped as part of regular maintenance:

  • Excessive sludge in the aerobic tank decreases the percentage of treated wastewater.
  • Too many solids can accumulate in the pump tank, which can cause premature pump failure.
  • Solids can cause sludge to clog up the spray lines and spray heads. (We’ve even seen extreme cases where sludge was being sprayed onto the lawn through the spray heads, which is an obvious health hazard.)

Note: If your alarm comes on, you need to have a maintenance provider check the system. Pumping the system alone will almost never resolve the reason why your alarm has activated. See our video on what to do when your aerobic alarm activates.

How often should my aerobic system be pumped?

The frequency of pumping can vary greatly — averaging between one and five years — and is usually dependent upon the following combine factors:

  • Size of the trash tank, aerobic tank and pump tank
  • Number of home occupants
  • Items flushed down the toilets
  • Items put down the drains
  • Medications
  • Excessive use of household cleaners
  • Hydraulic overloads on the system

Not all maintenance providers have aerobic pumping experience

Although any maintenance provider will be able to recommend when your aerobic system should be pumped, they do not all offer pumping services — you may need to find a separate company to remove the waste from the tank.

Pumping an aerobic system usually means pumping all three tanks or compartments — make sure that is included in any bid for pumping you receive from a pumper.

Check with the provider to see if there are additional things that need to be done when the system is pumped in order to prevent damage to the system. Some system components may need to be disconnected or removed when the system is pumped — be sure the pumping company is experienced with your manufactured system to prevent damage during pumping.

Call Van Delden for experienced aerobic system service

Van Delden Wastewater Systems specializes in installing, servicing, and pumping only Clearstream aerobic systems, ensuring our customers the highest quality of service.

Need a Clearstream aerobic septic system pumping? Give us a call at 210.698.2000 (San Antonio) or 830.249.4000 (Boerne), or contact us online.

For 86+ years, Van Delden Wastewater Systems has withstood the test of time as the leading Wastewater System company, providing San Antonio, Boerne, and the surrounding Texas Hill Country with services you can count on now and in the future. 

Call us for any of your wastewater systems needs and let our professionals help you with your septic installation and maintenance requirements: 210.698.2000 (San Antonio) or 830.249.4000 (Boerne).

5 thoughts on “Why Should My Aerobic System be Pumped?

  1. thank you Van for this good information.
    Question: after all 3 tanks are pumped out, are you suppose to fill all 3 tanks with clean water?

    • There may be variables for different systems and situations, but we always have our customers fill the aerobic tank with water for 2 main reasons. #1: so the tank doesn’t float. #2: to prevent damage to the aerator (some aerators have to be turned off when pumping, then turned back on after the tank is filled). Also, if any of the other tanks are plastic, those should be filled too prevent floating. You could fill all 3 and wont hurt anything, but if the house is occupied then the other tanks will fill just by using water as normal inside the house.

    • There are minimum sizes based on State and County regulations. Start by checking with the County offices that review platting and regulate aerobic systems.

  2. Do all aerated systems have 3 tanks? I only have 2 covers. The one with the air intake and the 1 immediately after it. I have had mine for about 3.5 years and have a household of 4. I tend to think we use far more water than average. Recently there has been a strong odor outside coming from the area of the tanks. It was just serviced last month and the aerator is still running. Time to be pumped?

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