Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Got an appointment

So next week we are getting our septic tank pumped. Here in California, one of the requirements to sell a rural property is that you must get a well test and empty your septic tank before new buyers move into the place. Since we moved in June of 2012, it's easy to remember the last time the tank was pumped. It was right before we moved in, while the house was still in escrow.

Since we've been here a little over three years now, we're getting into range for when it will need a pump, and so we'll take care of that next Tuesday. Goodbye, sludge! The range you can go in between pump-outs is calculated by your square footage and how many people you have living in the home. Since we had Groceries, plus Big Ag and myself, plus regular friends and other family who have visited, we figured the estimate of getting it pumped in 3.9 years was good, but could be moved up just a bit. And so, at 3.2 years, we're going for the pump-out.

The other reason we want the septic guys out right now is that we're going to install a flagstone patio on an area which formerly had grass, and I want to be sure -- absolutely positively sure -- we are not going to be placing stones over the septic system, in case it ever needs to be dug up. The odds are it will not overlap, and the odds are even better that we will not need to dig it up, but it never hurts to be on the safe side on either count. So when the guys come out to pump, they are also going to locate our tank and find exactly the dimensions so we can avoid covering anything up. 

There's a lot you can do to extend the life of your septic system if you want to avoid trouble: Don't plant trees with invasive roots near the tank, leach lines or leach field. Get the tank pumped out on a regular basis. And although I'm not sure how much good it actually does, the experts say it can't hurt to use RidX or some other kind of bacteria boosting additive to help the waste breakdown process go smoothly and quickly.

Getting the tank pumped is not a glamorous or fun $450 to spend, but it is a necessary cost if we want to avoid something backing up into the house or worse, needing new leach lines or the leach field dug up, which can cost thousands. Luckily we've saved for the pump-out, and so it'll just be a question of writing the check and getting it done. I've already written it into the cost of the patio renovation, as just a little bit of insurance that once the yard is done, we will have taken steps to everything stays good back there for awhile. 

Sludge. Leach fields. Decomposing matter inside a tank under your lawn. Just a few of the lesser talked-about, but absolutely necessary parts of rural life. And if you think it's hard living with the responsibilities of a septic system, try living out here and NOT having one! I know which one I'd pick. Bring on the pump-out.


  1. An ounce of prevention! Certainly worth avoiding a pound of...whatever happens if you don't service it! Especially wise with the new patio on the horizon. This is something that certainly makes me nervous about living in the country.

    1. I think it would only be a problem if you forgot you needed to save to have it cleaned out every few years. It's a little like going to the dentist, as long as you go regularly, you'll never have to worry about huge problems occurring, as they'll be caught before they get too big. You especially would be fine as you tend to stay on top of the things you need to. Someone not as responsible....all bets are off there.