December 14, 2019

How Often Should You Empty Your Septic Tank?

Arranging to have your septic tank emptied can be an easy thing to forget. The tanks are buried and you may not even notice the difference between a tank and a sewage system. After all, out of sight, out of mind!

However, this is a vital home maintenance task that needs to be done. If not, you may find yourself in a very smelly situation. It's like the worst possible version for forgetting to put the bins out.

If septic tanks are regularly emptied and cleaned, they can last decades.Providing your house with reliable sewage treatment for years to come.

As the word tank implies there is only a finite amount of space for any waste to be stored. So, it's a common question on how often they need to be emptied.

The real answer to this question is: it depends. But we will answer this question as best we can.

When should a septic tank be emptied?

As a general rule, you should ideally empty out your septic tank once every three to five years.

There are some key factors which influence this though.

1. Size of your tank - They can only hold a finite amount of waste.

2.Usage - How many people live in your house

3. What you flush - this may cause blockages that need to be addressed.


Septic tank emptying chart

You can use the chart below to get a good idea of how often you need to empty your tank based on its size and the number of people in your household.

septic tank emptying chart
Septic Tank Emptying Chart

The importance of regular emptying

A septic tank is an expensive bit of kit and repairs or even replacement will be expensive. If you take care of your septic tank, they can last a very long time so it's in your own interests to do so.

Regular cleaning eliminates the risk of waking up to a foul and expensive septic system failure. 

 Also, cleaning your septic is an act of stewardship toward your neighbourhood, community, and environment. We're sure you don't want to be responsible for floaters in the local river.

What are the signs your septic tank is full?

There a some very clear, and smelly, signs that it's time to get your septic tank emptied. Some are more urgent than others.


Noticed some weird pools of water on your lawn? Are they by your septic tank? Chances are it's overflowing. 

When a tank is at capacity it will force waste up to the top of the ground.So, if you’re seeing puddles on your grass and it hasn't rained take that as a sure sign to book it in. Pretty quickly!


If you think your drains are a bit slower than normal this might mean there is a clog in the system somewhere. This also goes for sinks and toilets. If they are draining slowly this could be another sign your septic tank is full.


Every drop of dirty water goes into your septic tank. So, washing your dishes,washing clothes, showering, toilets, it's all in there.

As you can imagine those mixture results in quite a potent smell. And it'snot a nice one.

If you find your nose picking out those scents more than normal this again could be an indication your tank is full. You may also be best to empty it before the neighbours start to complain.


If the grass above and around your septic tank looks really lush and green this is another sign. This could be a result of water coming out of your system, so it’s either a leak or its full and starting to overflow. Either way,you need to get it checked out.

Although you may like this lush grass, it should look the same across your whole garden.


This will be the worst sign to see. Both for your nose and your wallet. It's also the most obvious.

if your sewage system is backing up this is a sure sign you need to empty your septic tank as soon as possible. 

The lowest drains in your house, or those closest to the septic tank will be the first to go. So always keep an eye on them.

If you see these are starting to back up call someone immediately and reduce water usage in your house.

What happens if a septic tank is not pumped\emptied? 

You don't want to find out. Honestly.

If the tank is not emptied solids will build up until the tank is at full capacity. Eventually these solids will reach the pipe that feeds the drain field which will then clog. When this pipe becomes clogged, that's when the fun really starts.

You can look forward to

  • Smell of sewage in the yard
  • Swampy areas over the drain field
  • Bright green, healthy grass over the drain field
  • Waste water backing up into the house.
  • Lowest drains in the house become slower
  • You could be responsible for environmental damage

As the owner of a septic tank, you are required to comply with the Environment Agency's general binding rules.

Withing these rules one of the key responsibilities is to ensure regular inspections are carried out.  Whilst also ensuring the tank is properly maintained. 

If your septic tank overflows you're not really meeting those rules.

Those who fail to meet their obligations could face enforcement action,including fines. 

Septic tank emptying

As a registered waste carrier and with over 25 years’ experience D-tox are in a perfect position to safely empty your septic tank.

Speak to our team today to get a free no obligation quote.

Related Services

Septic Tank Emptying Service

Further Reading

Signs you septic tank needs emptying

What is a septic tank & how does one work

How much does septic tank emptying cost

Christian Heritage

After joining the business at the end of its first year of trading, Christian has been involved in all aspects of the business.
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