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Old 09-01-2011, 11:03 AM   #1
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Hi, I was wondering, We had a new field put in about 10 yrs ago. We had to have a secondary tank put in with a pump because the field was above grade (the only place the installer with inspector could find any sand). Anyway I was wondering if I should be having the secondary pumped also? I have done it once just because I thought I should.

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Old 09-01-2011, 06:54 PM   #2
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Have the secondary tank pumped out whenever the primary tank is pumped out unless the pumping company gives you a different opinion or time schedule for the secondary tank.

In many towns, new septic tanks must have two chambers (primary and secondary).

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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-01-2011 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:21 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Have the secondary tank pumped out whenever the primary tank is pumped out unless the pumping company gives you a different opinion or time schedule for the secondary tank.

In many towns, new septic tanks must have two chambers (primary and secondary).
That's seems like alot? The primary tank is from my old system before the old field failed. Now they added a secondary tank with a pump because the new field is above grade. To get the new system to code they added a filter to the neck of the primary tank. I mean if the secondary tank wasn't there it will be going directly out to the field. I have been pumping the primary out every 2 yrs.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:38 AM   #4
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The "secondary" tank is simply the pump chamber. I have a similar system, with a 1500 gallon primary tank and a 1000 gallon pump chamber. Since you have a filter in the primary tank, there should be essentially no solids migrating into the pump chamber, and if there are any, they probably get ground up and pumped out along with the rest of the sewage that fills the pump tank.

You can check whether a tank needs to be pumped very easily. Open the manhole access cover, insert a wooden stick with a rag on the end, and measure the depth of solids in the chamber. If the solids are less than 10 percent of the depth of the tank, no need to pump. You are likely to find that the solids in the pump chamber are less than 1 percent of the depth of the chamber.

As to the primary tank, if you are careful about what you put down the drain, you may never need to pump the system. By careful, I mean do not put food waste down the drain, you compost that. No chemicals. Use very low or no phosphate detergent in the wash. No tampons. No garbage grinder. There are numerous articles discussing the topic of septic tank pumping, life of septic systems etc., I think you will find that the advice to "pump every year or two" is based on mythology, not hard evidence, if you are getting enough solids into your tank to require pumping more frequently than once a decade you are probably need to re-evaluate how you are using the system.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:45 AM   #5
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I agree with Allan about having both tanks pumped, but also about discussing this with your local septic service; every two years sounds overly cautious to me. I know our two largest local guys fairly well, and believe them to be very reputable, and they both prescribe intervals of 5-7 years.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
The "secondary" tank is simply the pump chamber. I have a similar system, with a 1500 gallon primary tank and a 1000 gallon pump chamber. Since you have a filter in the primary tank, there should be essentially no solids migrating into the pump chamber, and if there are any, they probably get ground up and pumped out along with the rest of the sewage that fills the pump tank.

You can check whether a tank needs to be pumped very easily. Open the manhole access cover, insert a wooden stick with a rag on the end, and measure the depth of solids in the chamber. If the solids are less than 10 percent of the depth of the tank, no need to pump. You are likely to find that the solids in the pump chamber are less than 1 percent of the depth of the chamber.

As to the primary tank, if you are careful about what you put down the drain, you may never need to pump the system. By careful, I mean do not put food waste down the drain, you compost that. No chemicals. Use very low or no phosphate detergent in the wash. No tampons. No garbage grinder. There are numerous articles discussing the topic of septic tank pumping, life of septic systems etc., I think you will find that the advice to "pump every year or two" is based on mythology, not hard evidence, if you are getting enough solids into your tank to require pumping more frequently than once a decade you are probably need to re-evaluate how you are using the system.
That's a good tip thanks for the response. And we don't put anything down that shouldn't be, was very expensive to have the new system put in
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:35 PM   #7
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After two pumpings a reputable septic service should be able to suggest a time schedule for future pumpings.

The second chamber can have a schedule different from the first chamber.

The ideal time interval will change if your living habits change or if family size changes.

Septic tank solids (sludge) and also grease (scum) getting into the field hastens the failure (loss of absorption) of the field.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-02-2011 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:57 AM   #8
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Pumping out a septic tank every other year seems to be a bit too much.
NCSU has done extensive studies on all types of septic systems, and basically, their conclusions are:
A. pump the tank out at least every five years (or three, if very heavily used) and
B. do not waste one cent on all of those septic tank additives. Normal usage provides all of the bacteria necessary.
To keep it idiot proof, I have my 1977 1,000-gallon tank pumped out every year that ends in a 0 or 5. (Just had it done last year for instance). Never had a problem.
They can check your second tank when they pump your primary and pump it out to as necessary.
Good Luck!
Mike

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