The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 20% of households in America rely on private septic tanks to collect and treat wastewater. This is especially common in rural areas. However, even city dwellers may sometimes opt for private tanks if they prefer independence or want to embrace an off-the-grid lifestyle. The one caveat to following this route is that you will soon find yourself searching for “Septic tank service near me.” Here are some basic things you should know about septic tank maintenance.


Many homeowners with private tanks believe that bacteria will do all the dirty work. Bacteria is undoubtedly the reason your tank may last as long as it does, but it doesn’t quite handle everything. Bacteria break down solids to sludge and gases. However, some solids remain in the tank for long periods. Without regular pumping, the tank eventually fills and may overflow into the drain field.

The effects of this are catastrophic. Untreated sewer material can lead to contamination, especially if there are water bodies nearby. Sometimes it can even create a blockage that causes back flow into the home. When this happens, homeowners often end up paying thousands of dollars to rectify the situation. Regular maintenance is a much safer and more affordable preventative measure.


Unlike public sewer systems, private tanks are not a use-it-and-forget-it solution to wastewater treatment. Conduct your septic tank inspection every year and hire professionals to complete one every three years. Depending on the size of the tank and the size of the household, you will need to pump the tank every three to five years.

If you purchased your home with a septic tank already installed, be sure to find out how old it is and obtain the service records. Note that your private septic tank needs to be replaced every 20 to 40 years, depending on maintenance and material. Steel tanks are the least durable, lasting just 20 to 30 years. Surprisingly, plastic is more durable and can last 30 to 40 years. The absolute best solution is a concrete tank, which can last for 40 years.


Some private septic systems include a drain field, but not all. Whether or not you are allowed to use soil as the final treatment option depends on local laws and specific property conditions. Drain fields help to keep tank levels low by leaching the liquid waste into a field. Known as effluent, this is an excellent natural fertilizer. However, local laws decide how you may or may not use the field.

Sometimes a drain field is not allowed. However, homeowners may still have the option of leaching their effluent into concrete containers filled with soil. The soil in the containers treats the wastewater while providing fertilizer for flowers and shrubbery.


Even with regular maintenance, a private septic system can fail just like a public one. There are many reasons for this. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes or floods, can lead to damage. If people in the household are not mindful of the materials that they wash down the drain or flush down toilets, this can also create a problem.

Thankfully, there are warning signs you can look out for. If you have a drain field, check for odors, wet spots in the drain field, or surfacing sewage. If you hear gurgling noises in the plumbing system, this is a bad sign. Plumbing or septic backups may soon follow. Finally, keep an eye out for slow draining in the bathtub, the bathroom sink, and kitchen sinks.

If you notice any of these problems, don’t waste time googling “Septic tank cleaning near me.” Contact J&J Enterprises to schedule a professional inspection. We provide emergency services seven days per week and 24 hours per day. We also work with homeowners and businesses to ensure regular maintenance of their septic systems.