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Question DetailsAsked on 8/17/2016

Is water used during septic tank pumping process? If so, generally how much?

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Commonly, the better (more consientious) pump truck operators will use a hose to shoot water down into the bottom and walls of the tank to break up and liquify the sludge in the bottom of the tank. This may be decant water (settled out water taken from the top of the liquid in the truck's tank), but some trucks come with fresh water tanks to use because it is a cleaner operation and less stinky, and some just use your garden hose with a jet mozzle they bring with them. If fresh water is used, probably not more than about 25-50 gallons (just a few minutes of hosing it down to break loose the last of the solids at the end of the pumpout) so not a significant addition to the amount you are paying to remove, and a good thing to do so you restore the full capacity of the tank rather than leave a thick layer of grease and grit in the bottom.

That said, there have been cases of companies charging by the gallon (a common means, with either a trip minimum charge applied against that if low volume, or a trip service charge added on top of per-gallon charges - which is probably more common) who have used the decant water from the tank (which has already been metered once) to wash down the tank and take a LONG time to do that - thereby running up the gallons pumped with the twice-pumped liquid. That, monkeying with the meter, and bringing the truck in partly full are possible scams in this business. [Some states/cities require metering to make the quantity measurement fair, and also to measure the amount they discharge into the city sewers and have to pay for by the gallon commonly - but some areas they just do it based on the tank size in the ground as a lump sum.]

This does NOT include cases they are root cutting and/or jetting out the leach field lines as well, which can take hundreds of gallons of water and has to be fresh water to go through the high pressure pump. Commonly, if doing that, they first pump the septic tank dry and haul the sewage off and dump it, flushing the tank with fresh water at that time, then come back with a partial load of water to jet the leach field, because many times normal household piping cannot produce as much flow as they need. In that case or if they use your household water supply, you could be paying for a half to near a full truckload of water to be jetted into the leach field pipes to clear them out, then metered as it is pumped back into the truck from the septic tank and hauled away. Getting lump-sum bids for that type of work is better than paying by the gallon, but different areas use different charging method practices.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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