environmental regulations for sewage.

Septic Tank Emptying Process Explained

Septic Tank Emptying Process Explained


A septic tank is an underground chamber where the sewage from a property is collected and allowed to decompose through bacterial activity before draining by means of a soakaway.

Regular emptying and maintenance of the septic tank are critical to its proper functioning.

Here’s a breakdown of the septic tank emptying process to help you understand what’s involved.

Understanding the Need for Septic Tank Emptying

Over time, the solids in the wastewater accumulate and settle at the bottom of the septic tank, forming sludge, while oils and grease float to the top as scum. The liquid effluent in between exits into the drain field. However, the sludge and scum need to be periodically removed to prevent system failure.

1. Scheduling the Service: Septic tank emptying should typically occur every 3-5 years but can vary depending on the tank size and household usage. It’s crucial to schedule this service before the tank reaches its capacity to avoid backups or damage to the drain field.

2. Locating the Septic Tank: The service begins with locating the septic tank, which may involve referencing property diagrams or physically detecting the tank cover, often buried under the soil.

3. Accessing the Tank: Once the tank is located, the service professional will uncover the tank’s lid; sometimes this requires digging if the lid is not at ground level.

4. Pumping Out the Contents: A specialized vacuum truck, equipped with a large suction hose, is used for the emptying process. The hose is inserted into the tank, and the pump is activated to begin extracting the tank’s contents, including sludge, scum, and any liquid.

5. Checking for Problems: With the tank empty, it’s a good opportunity to inspect for cracks, leaks, or other signs of wear that could cause problems in the future. This is a preventative measure to ensure the longevity of the septic system.

6. Disposing of the Waste: The contents of the tank are transported by the vacuum truck to a designated disposal site, usually a municipal sewage treatment plant, where they are processed and treated according to environmental regulations.

7. Final Inspection and Cleaning: After the tank is emptied, it can be cleaned with water, and the sides can be scrubbed to remove any remaining debris. The final step is to inspect the tank once more before sealing it back up.


Emptying a septic tank is a straightforward yet vital process to maintain the system’s efficiency and prevent sewage problems.

It’s a task best left to professionals who have the necessary equipment and expertise to carry it out safely and in compliance with local regulations.

Regular emptying and maintenance of your septic tank will save money in the long run and contribute to a healthier home environment.