Cleaning Septic Tanks
Septic tank pump and haul contractors can clean your tank. It is a good idea to supervise cleaning to assure that it is done properly. To extract all the material from the tank, the scum layer must be broken up and the sludge layer mixed with the liquid portion of the tank. This is usually done by alternately pumping liquid from the tank and re-injecting it into the bottom of the tank. The septic tank should be pumped through the large central manhole, not the baffle inspection ports. Pumping a tank through the baffle inspection ports can damage the baffles, resulting in a destroyed leach field.
The use of additives in septic tanks to reduce the sludge volume or substitute for pumping is not recommended. In fact, relying on additives rather than conventional tank pumping may result in failure of the septic system. Septic additives are illegal in many jurisdictions.
Before closing the tank, check the condition of the baffles. If they are missing or deteriorated, replace them with appropriate sanitary tee baffles. It should never be necessary to enter a septic tank. Any work to replace the baffles or repair the tank should be done from the outside. Decomposing wastes in the septic tank produce toxic gases which can kill a human in a matter of minutes. When working on a tank be sure the area is well ventilated and that someone is standing nearby. Never go into a septic tank to retrieve someone who has fallen in and was overcome by toxic gases without a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). if a SCBA is not available, call for emergency services and put a fan at the top of the tank to blow in fresh air.
To facilitate future cleaning and inspection, install risers from the central manhole and inspection ports to the surface before burying the tank. Also mark the location of the tank, so it can be easily identified.