The septic tank gives your sewage effluent time to separate into their solid and liquid constituents. The liquid then drains into the drainfield while the solid settles in the tank. Over time, the solids in the tank become too thick and interfere with the efficiency of the system, so it has to be pumped out and cleaned.
Therefore, knowing when the sludge in a septic tank has become too thick is essential to the system's efficiency and maintenance. One method of gauging the sludge's thickness is to use the stick test.
What You Need
Here are the requirements for performing the test:
- Light-colored towel
- Long pole (about eight feet is adequate)
- Tape or sheet metal screw
Proceed to step one once you have gathered all the requirements.
Step One: Prepare the Probing Tool
Wrap the towel around the end of the probing pole; ensure it doesn't bulge too much. Use the tape or screw to hold it tightly on the pole so it won't drop and remain at the bottom of the septic tank. The towel should cover approximately the last three feet of the probing pole.
Step Two: Uncovering the Tank
You will need to dig up the dirt on top of the tank so that you can access the lid. The lid is usually a flat material that lies on top of the tank with a seam around it. The lid's weight depends on its material; for example, concrete is relatively heavy. Therefore, use the prybar to lift the lid out of its position and set it aside.
Step Three: Probing the Tank
Slide the pole into the opening and push it to the bottom of the tank. Leave it there for a few minutes and then pull it out. The thickness of the sludge is the height from the bottom of the pole to the highest point on the towel darkened by the scum. Replace the tank lid once you are done probing the tank.
Step Four: Interpreting the Reading
Lastly, you need to understand what the reading means i.e. whether you need to pump your septic tank. You need to have the tank pumped if the sludge thickness is anything above 24 inches. If the reading is less than that, you can still use your septic system for some time.
You need to be careful while working on or around the septic tank. Fumes front the septic tank can overwhelm you and make you fall into the tank. Let a plumbing contractor handle the job if you don't trust yourself with the DIY stick test or if the system is old and you can't vouch for the structural integrity of the tank. For more information, contact local professionals like DAN'S ALL AMERICAN PLUMBING LLC.