Septic System Cleaning

Call Us BEFORE it hits the fan

Maintaining your Septic System may not be on the front of your mind. When you have a house full of company with no functioning restrooms, that changes things! Proper Septic System Maintenance can help prevent a catastrophe. We will be there to help you whether you need regular maintenance or have reached catastrophe status.

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The typical home (pictured above) has two septic tanks. Waste travels from your home into the ground and is then brought into tank #1. Solids will sit at the surface and also at the bottom of the tank allowing the liquids to easily pass through the baffle and flow into tank #2. That same process is duplicated in tank #2 further filtering the solids and allowing the effluent water to enter into your drain field. Every drain field is unique but serves as a discard for your wastewater. 

When it’s time to have your tank serviced, we mainly get rid of all the solids that were left behind in the tanks. If too much time passes between services, solids may begin to find their way into the drain field saturating it which may end up in drain field failure. All septic tanks are different and vary per residence. Most tanks hold a layer of solids at the top of the tank often referred to as the “top mattress” as well as holding solids at the bottom. To perform a proper cleaning, we will need one lid per septic tank exposed.

We recommend Septic Tank Service every 3-4 years depending on the occupancy of your home and a few other factors.

There are many factors that go into how often your tank will need service. The higher the occupancy your home has, the more frequently you will need service. There are many other factors that go into it as well such as:

  • Heavy toilet paper usage
  • High Cotton Paper
  • The age of your system
  • The diet of the occupants
  • The bacterial content of your system

There are also a few things you can NOT do to help lengthen the amount of time between service and also increase the life of your tank such as:

  • DO NOT flush foreign objects such as wrappers, cigarette butts
  • DO NOT neglect your system and wait too long between services
  • DO NOT plant any new trees or plant-life above your septic tanks

The ultimate reason to service your system is to conserve its life, protect the environment and ultimately save money. It is very costly to have your tanks and or drainfield replaced and keeping proper maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Tanks being “full” is a common misconception in our world. Septic Tanks run at what’s called a “normal operating level”. After pumping them out, it takes about 2 weeks (based on a family of 4 with 2 tanks) to fill back up with water to normal operating level. The tanks then stay at this level for the duration between services. The effluent water then slowly drains to the drain field as the levels rise. The solids accumulate slowly over time which is what we do NOT want getting to your drainage system. The natural separation of solids and liquids prevents solids from exiting the outlet pipe through the outlet baffle pictured to the right.

You can uncover your septic tank lids yourself, or hire us to do it. Locating septic tank lids can be tricky, but can save you some money by doing it yourself. The image below showing a white cap, is a septic line clean out. We cannot pump from here. This is usually located part way to your tanks and is used to gain access and clean the line from house to tank. Also pictured below is what your tank access lid should look like when exposed. You can see that we have plenty of room to clean the tank properly with our 3″ vacuum hose.

Here are some tips:

  • Your local Department may have record of the tank location. You can retrieve a copy of those records by filing a Freedom of Information Act Request. This can be done online for Kent County Residents at this link.
  • Most systems built after 1967 will have two septic tanks. Regulation did not really start until the late 80’s early 90’s so sometimes, system’s aren’t up to current code.
  • Most tanks are either 800 or 1000 gallons and are made of concrete. Each 800 gallon tank’s surface area measures about 4ft x 8ft. Most 1,000 gallon tank measure 5ft x 8ft.
  • Code requires tanks be at least 10ft away from a foundation wall.
  • The tanks can be located by “probing” the ground. We use a probe rod as shown above but you can get creative. BE CAREFUL however, because concrete weakens over time and you could potentially puncture your tank if it’s weak.
  • Tanks could be laid out in multiple configurations: Tandum (End to End), L Shaped or side by side. The second tank normally points out towards the absorption area.
  • Usually, each tank has two access lids normally about the size of a pizza box. They can be round or square and are usually found on each end of the rectangular tank.
  • Lids are normally flat or flush to the surface and have a metal handle for easy handling. Don’t worry about lifting the lid up once it’s exposed. We’ll take care of that part. You can usually find the lids about 8″ – 15″ in from the tank end, and 24″ in from the tank sides. This all depends on the tank manufacturer.
  • Once you’ve exposed a seam of the lid, follow the seam around it to uncover it fully. We will need at least a few inches clearance around the hole to pull the lid up out of it.
  • There is normally about a 1-2ft pipe connecting the two tanks. Sometimes tanks are spread further apart based on grade changes and other factors.
  • We only need one lid per tank exposed to clean the tank properly. We would prefer to pump from the outlet ends (furthest away from the house) so we can properly inspect the outlet baffles.

What if I can’t find my tanks?

No worries! We can take care of this entire process for you and cover the holes when we are done. There is a difference in price for the extra labor, but if you are unable to find or unable to dig them open, just let us know.

What’s Next?

The next step is to make a call to schedule service. Upon calling, you will be asked a few general questions. We can typically schedule service within 1-3 business days. You can also schedule service online here.

Signs of System Failure include:

  • Sewage backup in your toilets and or drains
  • Slow flushing of your toilets
  • Slow drainage in your sinks or bathtubs
  • Excess liquids in yard (may or may not have odor)
  • Unpleasant odors in your home

What’s next?

The next step is to make a call to schedule service. Upon calling, you will be asked a few general questions such as how many people occupy the home and when the last time your tanks were serviced. Once our representative has a grasp of your situation, he/she will suggest what is best for you. To prevent further damage to your system, you should limit the use of water until a service tech arrives to assist you.

Plummer’s Waste group offers Septic Services to Commercial and Industrial companies accross Michigan. No matter what your set-up is or how large your company is, we’ll handle it. We offer services for the following:

  • Mobile Home Parks
  • Condominium Associations
  • Marinas
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Golf Courses
  • Shopping Centers


Or Give Us a Call: (616) 532-3996

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