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  • Writer's pictureSeth Criner

Should I Pump My Septic Tank Before Hosting A Large Gathering?

No one wants a guest to have an unwanted surprise in the bathroom while visiting our home.

Holidays are times when many of us host parties and large family gatherings in our home. If you have an on-site septic system this can be a potential problem. And anytime of year, if it is a wedding, graduation, party, or other large event hosted in our home, we should consider the load being placed on our septic system. Having to get emergency septic service on holidays or weekends can be difficult and costly.

Septic systems are designed to accommodate the number of bedrooms in a home and the potential in flows. Therefore, an average home with three bedrooms is designed to house four or five people and would have a tank that would accommodate 1000 gallons. This is large enough to handle normal operation. A large party would multiply this effect and possibly flood the system with a sudden volume of water over a short period of a few hours. So why is this a problem?

When a septic system is suddenly flooded with water over a short period of time it could cause sewage backups and increase the risk of flushing untreated effluent into the drain field. Flooding the system with water reduces or eliminates settling and decomposition time.

Protect the drain field by properly maintaining the septic system and taking steps to minimize the effect of large gatherings the septic system.

Steps to minimize the impact of parties on the septic system:

  • Arrange to pump the septic tank prior to the party is the best option, especially if it has not been done recently.

  • Reduce extra water inputs a few days before the gathering - Laundry, dishwasher, extra showers or baths.

  • Do water intensive food prep ahead of time.

  • Post some bathroom rules to politely let guests know what can be flushed.

  • Assure there are no outside drainage lines routed toward your drain field.

By planning for our guests’ water use in advance, we can have a carefree holiday party without the worry of a septic emergency.

Resource: Michigan State University - Septic System Education Program, Beth Clawson

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