Forsyth County Environmental Health309 Pirkle Ferry Rd. Bldg D Suite 500 Cumming, Georgia 30040 770-781-6909 Fax 678-807-7343

Forsyth County Environmental Health

Pumping of Septic Tanks

The Health Department recommends that septic tanks be pumped periodically. At present there is no additive that will prevent this need. Please visit the National Small Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC) web site for more information about septic tank additives.

View this video for more information about septic tank systems.

Buyer Beware

Septic tank pumper contractors are licensed by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). A current list of them can be found here. Unfortunately, just because a company is licensed to operate does not mean that they abide by ethical business practices. The Health Department and DCH often receive complaints about pumpers. The following are some of the tactics you should be aware of:

  • Added cost due to distance of tank from truck. Some companies will tell you that there is an additional cost for use of extra hose to get to the tank.
  • Added cost to find and uncover the tank. In most cases you can obtain a drawing of the location of your septic tank from the Health Department. It is rare that finding and uncovering the tank should be an additional cost. Find out up front.
  • An additive must be used to break up the septic tank contents before pumping. The crust on the surface can be broken up manually and modern trucks have no difficulty removing all the contents of a tank.
  • An additive is necessary for the proper functioning of a septic tank. These additives can be extremely expensive and are not necessary. See EPA recommendation above.
  • There is something wrong with your septic tank or drain lines. There are only two ways that a septic system fails, water backs up into the house in the plumbing or comes to the surface of the ground in the yard. It is true that simply pumping out the septic tank will not fix a true failure, but contact the Health Department before you commit to any work.

Be sure to get several bids from different companies and discuss the items above up front. Do not sign a contract with out carefully reading all the fine print. A replacement of the tank or repair of the drain lines requires a permit from the Health Department. If you have any concerns about what you are told by any contractor contact the Health Department before you sign anything.