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When and how often should you pump out the septic?

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What is the recommended frequency to pump out the septic tank? When is the best time to do this?
—Okasana Fuke

Although some jurisdictions may have regulations about how often a tank should be pumped out, in general, you want to have this done every three to five years (or when the tank is about one-third full of solids). But factors such as the size or capacity of the tank, the age of the system, how much wastewater is entering the tank, and the volume of solids in the wastewater will affect the frequency. No surprise: A lot of people, using the cottage all the time, means that the tank fills up more quickly. On the other hand, a couple with a large-capacity tank may get away with only having it pumped out every seven years.

Experts agree that the best time to pump is in summer or early fall. That way, bacteria—necessary for breaking down the waste—have time to get reestablished in the tank before the winter hits.