Regular periodic cleaning a.k.a "pumping", is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy and properly functioning septic tank system. Septic tanks are designed to catch all of the homes waste and provide a storage space where bacteria can break the waste down into a simpler form called sludge. The sludge needs to be removed from the tank periodically to prevent excess accumulation. The more sludge that is allowed to accumulate in the tank, the more that gets carried out into the drain field causing premature drain field failure.
As a general rule of thumb it is recommended to have your tank cleaned and inspected every 3-5 years. The frequency of cleaning varies according to the size of the tank and the amount of people that are using the system. The chart on the right can give you a better estimation of your particular tank size and usage. This is only a general guideline and may be different from what your septic system service professional may recommend based on their inspection.
Most of the older septic tanks do not have access risers installed on them and require the dirt to be removed in order to allow access to the lids of the tank. The lids should be raised to allow proper cleaning of the entire tank. Newer tanks usually have access risers installed so as to allow easy access to the tank for proper cleaning. These access risers can be installed on the older septic tanks, so ask your septic service professional if they would be the right choice for your tank. Most septic pumping contractors provide a discount if you already have the dirt removed from your tank lids before they arrive or if your tank has the access risers installed to finish grade.