Septic Tank 101: When to Pump & Clean Your Vacation Rental Property’s Septic System

Septic Tank

Disclaimer: This article is meant to serve as a guide for vacation rental property owners. We are not licensed plumbers or septic system experts. We strongly recommend consulting a licensed professional to have your septic system evaluated, inspected, pumped, and serviced. 

How often should you pump your septic tank? 

If we’re honest, many vacation guests unfortunately aren’t that careful with what they flush down the toilet or what they put down the kitchen or bathroom sink drains. Many of the things that go down the drain may actually damage the septic “ecosystsem” and prevent the natural breakdown of solids. This can keep the waste from properly discharging in the septic leach field, which can lead to more issues. 

In addition, many vacation rental properties are advertised to sleep a lot more guests than they were originally designed to without the septic tank being upgraded to handle more. Again – this can lead to major issues. To prevent those major issues, it’s important to give your septic system plenty of attention! 

What happens when I don’t pump regularly? 

When solids aren’t breaking down, they can cause the septic tank to keep filling up – ultimately backing up into your vacation rental property. This is obviously an issue, as no one wants that in their cabin! If the problem continues without being addressed, you will probably have to go beyond just pumping the tank. You will likely have to replace the septic tank and the leach field – which is a much greater expense and takes much longer. 

If you don’t know how many gallons your septic tank is and when it was last pumped and serviced, you probably need to call a professional ASAP. 

Common Mistakes with Septic Tanks 

Not pumping the septic tank frequently can lead to early drainfield failures and costly repairs. While it may feel like unnecessary spending to frequently clean and pump the septic tank, believe us – it’s worth it! The cost of a new tank or drainfield is much higher than regular maintenance. 

Most septic pump contractors will suggest pumping at least annually, but that is considering a full-time residence. A short-term vacation rental property is different, because there are many more people coming in and out throughout the year. And again, many guests won’t take care of your septic tank the way you would. We strongly suggest pumping the septic tank before and after heavy use (before and after busy seasons). This would mean pumping twice a year, in May and in November. Pumping before and after busy seasons can help avoid expensive backups and loss of rental income due to needed repairs. 

What about septic additives/DIY?

You may have seen a lot of ads for products you can flush down the toilet or pour down the drain to extend your septic system’s life and break down solids. While some work, most don’t. We don’t suggest them unless a licensed plumber or septic contractor prescribes them, because these products are designed for residential use. They aren’t effective for short-term vacation rentals. 

If you have any questions about your septic system, please give us a call! We can help you navigate the ins and outs, ensure you have a licensed professional, and take care of all the details! We’re just a phone call away at 1.800.580.5524!

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