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Bancroft Silva
Septic Service
Useful Tips

Bancroft Silva Septic Service  •  P.O.Box 620  •  Pepperell Ma,01463 •  978-433-6659  •

We often hear, "Well, if it isn't broke, don't fix it" in terms of septic maintenance.

You wouldn't drive your new car 10,000 miles without checking the oil. The same principle applies to the septic system. Unfortunately, the first septic "emergency" usually marks the beginning of the end. All too often we see non-believers become believers when their septic system backs up or they fail a perk test and have to replace it. Once a system starts to back up, it is generally the result of an accumulation of solids in your tank. Grease and non-biodegradable such as tissue, cigarette butts, feminine products, baby wipes, etc. flow into the leachfield and slowly clog the sewer rock and the walls of the leach ditch. Eventually, the water has no place to go and backs up into your house or business.

By using water sparingly, eliminating chlorine products, and pumping regularly, your septic system should give you years of trouble free service.

How often should we clean our septic tank?

A lot depends on the size of the tank, the number of people in the household, the type of system, the age of the system, the usage, and the installation. In general, the more people using the system and the smaller the tank, the more often it should be pumped. For example, a 4-person household with a 1000 gallon tank should have their system serviced every two years. Households with five or more on a 1000-gallon tank should pump yearly. Rentals should be serviced yearly as many tenants believe they are on a city sewer and often don't know how to properly maintain a septic. Businesses which have a high volume of walk-in traffic such as restaurants and stores should also pump yearly at least. And if you have family planning to visit for any extended period of time, pump before they come as more people in the house puts additional stress on the septic system. Sewage back-ups with a house full of company are no fun!

How long should it take to pump the tank?

On the average, it should take a septic pumper between 20 and 35 minutes to clean a 1000 or 1500 septic tank which may include 1 or 2 backwashes, if needed. It may take longer if a tank has not been pumped for a while and there is an accumulation of solids and grease in the tank. Oftentimes rocks, diapers, baby wipes (which do not belong in the tank) will plug the hoses which results in extra time spent to service the septic.

What is a backwash?

Also known as a backflush, this is where the pumper literally goes back to his truck and reverses the pump to shoot liquid back down into the tank. This is done to break up the accumulation of solids at the bottom of a tank thereby allowing the pumper to clean the tank. However, when a tank has been neglected and there is a large build up of hard solids at the bottom of the tank, the pumper may have to do more backwashes. Sometimes even that is not enough to break up the solids. A conscientious pumper will literally beat these hard solids with the septic hose to bust up the remaining hard solids to leave a clean tank.

Additional time spent cleaning the tank due to accumulation of solids and grease will generally result in increased costs to the home or business owner. Periodic pumping helps keep those costs down and extends the life of the septic system.

What are some tips for homeowners, business owners, and tenants?

Septic systems cost thousands of dollars to replace.

What are the signs of a failing septic?

Sewage back-ups in the house

Gurgling sound in pipes, drains and toilets

Slow draining toilets or drains

Lush green growth or spongy, wet soil over the drainfield

Sewage odors

Sewage Surfacing over the drainfield

When is the best time of year to pump?

We can pump a septic any time of year. Spring and summer are better as the ground is a bit warmer thereby allowing the bacterial action in a septic tank to start up faster. Many people like to wait until fall to schedule a service call as part of their pre-winter maintenance.

However, if standpipes are cut low or flush with the ground, remember to mark them in case of a winter back up.


Littleton 978-486-9229
Pepperell 978-433-6659
New Hampshire 603-673-9297