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Old 03-20-2016, 11:25 PM   #1
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Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


Tank has 3.5 feet of material in it... looks like roughly a 4x3 square structure.


The top scum layer is like a foot thick, and it's almost physically impossible to break through it in some spots (its like a big heavy quilt). In the spots i was able to break through, i go down to the bottom of the tank and never feel a sludge layer.


It seems to me that the scum layer is blocking the inlet and pretty much preventing anything from getting to the bottom. The bottom 'feels' pretty much liquid under the scum layer.



I'm not afraid of sticking my arms down into the tank and pulling the scum layer out, if it would save me $400.


A. Is it feasible to just pull the scum layer out by hand?


B. If so, is there somewhere i can dispose of it? Like put it in big contractor trash bags or something and take it to the city dump or somewhere that would accept it?
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:53 PM   #2
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


The material is hazardous waste and needs to go to sanitary treatment plant. There is no way you can clean it yourself. Around here it is about $150 to pump a tank. Money well spent.
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Old 03-21-2016, 12:03 AM   #3
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


Thanks for the input.

I was hoping i could just pull the scum layer out (which i wouldnt think would be terribly difficult), and take it to the sanitation disposal place myself.

Is this unheard of?

Cheapest that im getting quoted around here is $350-400. That's a lot of cash for only needing about a foot of material removed from the top of the tank.
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Old 03-21-2016, 01:24 AM   #4
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


There is a reason why it costs so much to have a tank pumped. You are paying for Labor, the wear and tear on the truck and equipment to pump, the license that they have to carry as Plumbers, EPA, state Sanitary license, tags and title, insurance on the vehicle, in case they damage a person's property, able to still get paid through their workman's comp if injured, such as what AFLAC does, payroll if they are paying someone as their employee or paying theirself to help pay their bills, the list goes on.

You will not be getting a foot of material removed from the tank, you are going to be getting the whole tank emptied. What you see is the first chamber, there should be one or two more lids for each section. As for that sludge, they actually will use a steel bar that has an flat rectangular section that is like a knife to break through, or they will use a spade or shovel.

Unless you are daring and do not have any open sores, which actually the bed under your nails can absorb the bacteria inside the tank, which is human waste. You would quickly realize that there is a reason why people get sick and get Flesh eating bacteria.

As for that sludge. That comes from people pouring grease down the drain, soaps, body oils, wrong products for toilet paper, etc, too much detergent and fabric softener in the washing machine.

If there is an issue of too much house waste like grease, etc getting poured down the drain, you really need to get a grease trap installed. Also using Gray Water, which is from the washing machine that would go through a filter and be reused for other items, that can help cut down on how much water is going into the tank.

The biggest issue that you will encounter is that most likely your drain field has failed, because of the system not being properly maintained, your costs are going to get even more.



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Old 03-21-2016, 04:14 AM   #5
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You likely have a hardened sludge layer as well. Sounds like this tank has been neglected for years and you may have more issues. I am not sure where you live, but in our neck of the woods septic tank up pumping has to to be taken to a sewage treatment facility. Pretty sure they won't accept material from a homeowner. It costs me 220 every four years to have my tank pumped out and inspected. For that I get a properly functioning tank that should go for years. Money well spent . Beats the 20 grand to replace a neglected system.
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:31 AM   #6
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


You are kidding right? Your tank cleaners pay a fee for proper disposal. Not to mention doing it the way you want to is like a major health hazard and you could potentially DIE.
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:40 AM   #7
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


So how is a pump going to pump a big heavy scum layer like a quilt that could hardly be broken through?
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:41 AM   #8
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


And, in our neck of the woods,we have to provide proof, once every three years, that the tank was pumped and the pumping co has to certify the tank, and that it was pumped.
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:53 AM   #9
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


while I encourage diy projects to help owners save money and gain knowledge....what your asking .cannot and should not be done....why... well 1 st its a law to have proper disposal...where would you get rid of the waste...2nd. you already said your not afraid to stick your hand in human waste to save money,,so will let that one go...3rd .its a small price to pay for having a septic system....people on city sewage pay 75-150 per month

4th.. well I must say ...its just plain wrong..." A MAN GOT TO KNOW HIS LIMITATIONS"
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:00 AM   #10
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


I'm certainly one to save a buck when I can, even at an advanced age I will be replacing my entire roof. But no way would I touch that job and no way would my town want me to do so. There are plenty of other way to save the required money.

You could explain you have the cleanout open and will take care of filling and covering it to try and get a slightly better price. If your access is easy where they can get in and out without a hassle, explain that, time is money for any business.

But getting it done right is more than removing what you are looking at. If not right it could hasten a complete failure where solids and grease enter your leach field and THEN you don't want to see the quotes.

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Old 03-21-2016, 07:09 AM   #11
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


once cleaned out properly, you can save money in the future on proper maintenance of the tank..methane gas is poisonous to breath in, if your gona be face to face with the sludge...
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:08 AM   #12
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


Quote:
Originally Posted by SeniorSitizen View Post
So how is a pump going to pump a big heavy scum layer like a quilt that could hardly be broken through?
It is not actually a pump. It is a giant vacuum that sucks it out.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:52 AM   #13
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


I'd like to invite the OP to keep us posted on the process and final cost of removing the foot thick layer with a vacuum pump.

I predict what will happen is the pumper will penetrate the thick layer, pump the liquid out and say that's pumped and the bill will be 3-4 hundred $.
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Old 03-21-2016, 11:42 AM   #14
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ben's plumbing View Post
3rd .its a small price to pay for having a septic system....people on city sewage pay 75-150 per month

4th.. well I must say ...its just plain wrong..." A MAN GOT TO KNOW HIS LIMITATIONS"
You are telling me that I have been underpaying. My sewer is the same as water use. It is really nice when you are empty nesters and your kids are gone. The bill goes way down. We actually pay around $21 for the city to take crap to the plant.



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Old 03-21-2016, 12:54 PM   #15
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Re: Can i clean out my septic tank myself?


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Originally Posted by ZTMAN View Post
And, in our neck of the woods,we have to provide proof, once every three years, that the tank was pumped and the pumping co has to certify the tank, and that it was pumped.
OK, that is just overregulation and possibly lobbying from septic companies. I could see five years, maybe, but every three years is just a tax on little old ladies who live alone.
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