What exactly is a septic pumping?

     Septic pumping (also referred to as septic cleaning or septic draining) is a necessary step in maintaining your septic system. A septic tank is designed to separate and trap the solids from the sewage entering a septic system. The resulting, cleaner wastewater is commonly referred to as effluent and exits your septic tank through the outlet pipe and flows into the absorption field.

     It is common for homeowners to take a look down into the cleanout or manhole riser of their septic tank and see solids floating on top of the effluent. This is not a bad sign to see; it indicates your septic tank is properly trapping solids. Septic pumping being done in Baltimore County, MDThe problem comes when a septic tank is not regularly maintained and the solids build up to the point that the septic tank either clogs up or solids spill over the baffle and into the absorption field.

     When solids enter the absorption area of a septic system, this causes vast problems and premature failure of the system. Once solids escape the septic tank and flow into the outlet pipe and beyond, they become very unlikely to remove. The solids will continue to build up until the system clogs itself and prevents any further absorption of effluent. Having nowhere else to go, any wastewater entering the system from the house will either back up through the plumbing or overflow outside.

     How do you prevent this? By scheduling a septic pumping and cleaning, the solids are removed from a septic tank through a powerful vacuum hose to prevent excessive build up. Depending on the volume of solids, the tank may then be back flushed to further mix up and remove solids, to ensure a thorough cleaning. Although the main reasoning for getting a septic pumped is to remove the built-up solids, it is obviously not practical to separate both the solids and liquids that have settled in the tank. That is why the tank is emptied of both solids and liquids during maintenance.

     The frequency between septic services varies greatly from one house to the next. There are many factors that determine how often a septic needs serviced. If a large family in one home uses water heavily, but a small family that is water conservative lives in another, the frequency of septic cleanings between these two homes is going to vary greatly. The large family may need to have theirs cleaned once a year, while the small family may be okay to go three years. If in doubt, two years is generally a good rule unless you notice problems or are told otherwise by a certified septic inspector. There are other factors to take into account of course, which can be found here.

What does my County suggest for maintaining my septic?

In Maryland, counties may slightly vary in how they regulate both the installation and maintenance of septic systems and septic pumping. Please find your county listed here and follow the link to their website to review their specific requirements.

If you reside in Harford County, please visit the Harford County Health Department’s website here.

If you reside in Baltimore County, please visit the Baltimore County Department of Health’s website here.

If you reside in Cecil County, please visit the Cecil County Health Department’s website here.

If you reside in Carroll County, please visit the Carroll County Health Department’s website here.

If you reside in York County, Pennsylvania, please contact York County Environmental Health Services here. You may have to contact your local township to obtain further information.

Septic Do’s and Dont’s


  • Conserve water to avoid overloading your septic system
  • Have your septic system pumped regularly
  • Maintain adequate vegetative cover over the absorption field
  • Make sure a riser (or manhole) is installed over the tank, providing easy access for measuring and pumping solids
  • Keep your septic tank cleanouts and manholes accessible for pumping and inspections



  • Do not flush baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, cigarette butts, diapers, or similar objects
  • Do not dispose of grease or cooking oils down the drain
  • Do not use septic tank additives. These harsh chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria that treat your wastewater
  • Do not park vehicles or heavy objects over the underground tank and its drainfield
  • Do not plant trees too close to your septic system, roots can grow into it and clog it
  • Above all else – Do not wait for signs of failure. Check your septic system regularly

Chavis Septic Services serves most of Maryland’s northern counties. We service Aberdeen, Abingdon, Baldwin, Bel Air, Belcamp, Churchville, Darlington, Edgewood, Fallston, Forest Hill, Havre de Grace, Jarrettsville, Joppa, Kingsville, Monkton, Perryman, Pylesville, Street, Whiteford, and White Hall in Harford County, Maryland. We service Baldwin, Baltimore, Butler, Catonsville, Chase, Cockeysville, Essex, Fork, Freeland, Glen Arm, Glyndon, Gwynn Oak, Halethorpe, Hunt Valley, Hydes, Kingsville, Lutherville-Timonium, Middle River, Monkton, Owings Mills, Parkton, Perry Hall, Phoenix and Jacksonville, Reisterstown, Rosedale, Sparks Glencoe, Sparrows Point, Towson, Upper Falls, and White Marsh in Baltimore County, Maryland.