What should I do after having my septic tank cleaned out?

Here is a water system question that comes up occasionally among homeowners:

What to do after your septic tank is pumped at Home?

The answers to that question are surprisingly varied in local tradition and folklore! Some homeowners are very dogmatic with their beliefs and practices surrounding this event. We have found some homeowners who stoutly declare that the only way their septic tank functions properly after cleaning is if they put a dead chicken into the tank after it’s pumped! This, they claim, re-starts the bacteria in the septic tank, and everything works wonderfully. Others ascribe to a legendary method of adding a large bag of dog food to the tank after cleaning…they say when they fail to add the dog food, their tank will not function properly. Still, others keep a special supply of yeast on hand to flush down the toilet when their tank has been pumped out. They feel that this special additive will keep the septic bugs happy, and keep all bad things from occurring.

Based on our many years working in the residential septic system industry, we have found that in most cases, there is no need to add anything to your septic tank after pumping.

Human waste coupled with kitchen waste is full of bacteria and enzymes which are fully sufficient to break down the residential waste that comes from most homes.

Washington State University has a helpful study on this topic, which we feel encapsulates our experience in the field.

Septic Tank System Additives

Safe additives will likely be ineffective, while an effective additive will likely be unsafe to use. Money spent on additives would better be spent pumping your septic tank every three to five years.

There are certain cases where home septic tank additives can be helpful for cleaning your plumbing system…

  • We have had customers who were undergoing chemotherapy who experienced adverse effects on their septic tank, due to the chemo-killing bacteria in the tanks.
    We have also had customers who used more than normal amounts of bleach or Clorox in cleaning, which affected their septic tanks.
  • In cases like this, we recommend a product called BioClean, which is a mix of bacteria in powder form, that activates when it is added to liquid. This can increase the bacterial count in the septic tank to help overcome higher levels of toxic influent.
  • At times, a leach field may become clogged with solids from overuse. We have had success with opening the ends of leach fingers and cleaning out the solids from the lines using a hydro-jetting machine. Once the solids are cleaned out, we flush clean water back into them, mixed with a high concentration of BioClean bacteria. This helps to break down the remaining solids with a shock treatment of very high bacteria content, and many times a failing leach field can be brought back to life in this manner.

So…in most cases, the best thing to do after pumping your septic tank is…Flush The Toilet! If you need to schedule a septic tank cleaning, pumping, or inspection, don’t hesitate to call Shankster Bros. at any time.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean Out a Septic Tank? See Breakdown

Cost To Clean Out

How Much Does It Cost To Clean Out a Septic Tank? See Breakdown

When the time comes to have your septic tank cleaned out, an important question arises…

“How much does it cost to pump a septic tank?”

see tank pumpingThe answer is not as clear cut as you may think, but it’s also not going to require a 4-year degree to figure out. There are a few factors that affect the price you may have to pay to do the “Mega Flush” that will clean out years of accumulation from your laundry, toilet, showers, sinks, and jacuzzi.

Let’s get started.

First of all, you should know that septic tanks are like people. They come in all shapes and sizes, they range in age from new to ancient, their health conditions vary tremendously, and they have varying manners and personalities.  Some are timid and prefer to remain hidden from view, buried beneath the surface. Others are more assertive, with bold risers, flashing lights, and even audio alarm systems to let others know of their impressive presence. Still, others are geeky enough that in the event of a problem, they can actually call our office and let us know they need to be serviced!

Yes, we are still talking about a septic tank.

And then there are some who, when they get in a bad mood, will belch or burp like a demented old man, or try to talk to you up through the drains, while the more aggressive ones have been known to “spout off” in the back yard like an upset spouse. Not to mention the ones who are more like the teenage boy who had too many burritos for lunch and insists on relieving his flatulence in the middle of the kitchen while you are trying to prepare dinner! What is that awful smell?!!!

At Shankster Bros., we have been sponsoring a clinical study, which should be coming out in journals shortly, entitled, “Various Personality Disorders Common to Septic Tanks.” But that is for another day.

The costs pertaining to the cleaning of a septic tank can be divided, (or multiplied), into 4-5 categories:

1.) Size of tank

2.) Accessibility of tank

3.) Location of property in relation to the service area

4.) Frequency of cleaning

5.) Volume the amount of gallons

Let’s break these costs down:

1.) Size of tank in gallons

As I mentioned, septic tanks come in all shapes and sizes. Some people are surprised to learn that septic tank sizing requirements for homes are based on the number of bedrooms, churches are on the seating capacity of the auditorium, factories on the number of employees, and campgrounds are on the number of campsites.

Current septic tank sizing requirement guidelines in Indiana are as follows:

5 bedroom home: 1500 gallon tank
4 bedroom home: 1250 gallon tank
3 bedroom home: 1000 gallon tank
2 Bedroom home: 750 gallon tank
1 bedroom home: 500 gallon tank

Interestingly, any jetted bathtub like a hot tub or jacuzzi with more than 125-gallon capacity also counts for an extra bedroom. Bear in mind that many systems installed nowadays are equipped with a secondary tank that serves as a pump station to pump your sewage out to the leach field or sand mound, where it is distributed through piping and receives its final treatment before leaching away into the ground. This means you may have two tanks to clean.

2.) Accessibility of tank

Unfortunately, some septic tanks have been installed in very unhandy places. Think…under the deck….under the garage floor…under the new living room that was added on a few years back…under that giant pine tree, I planted 40 years ago….etc! Yes, we have seen all of those situations, and many, many more.

Also having to do with accessibility is whether or not your tank is fitted with a Riser. This is a pipe on the lid of your septic tank that extends to the surface of the ground. All modern tanks are required to use risers, however, many older tanks do not have them. This may require digging to expose the access lid for your tank, and, yes, additional cost. Access risers can be added to older tanks to keep from repeating the effort and cost of digging up the access lid each time the tank needs to be cleaned. Some service providers have extra charges if they have to use more than one length of hose to reach your tank…fortunately for you, Shankster Bros. does not!

3.) Distance from the service area

Many service providers have a sliding scale price depending on the location of the customer relative to their service area. For example, Shankster Bros. is located in Northern Indiana. If we get a call from a client in Kentucky, we will have to charge more than for a local customer in Kosciusko, Whitley, Wabash, Fulton, Elkhart, or surrounding counties.

4.) Frequency of cleaning

Some of our customers are using tanks that only store septage, instead of leaching it out, especially around some of the lakes. This means they have to be pumped out very frequently, even as often as once per week. In these special situations, we can offer discounted prices due to the frequency of the service.

5.) Volume the amount of gallons

Some customers, like campgrounds or large commercial facilities, or even wastewater treatment plants at times have large volumes they need to dispose of. In this case, again, special pricing will need to be quoted. So when you call the office for pricing, have the following information available, and the receptionist will be able to quickly quote your job:

  • Address of the property needing cleaning service
  • Size of the septic tank, (If known)
  • Whether or not your tank has an access riser

Or, if you are one of our more than 19,000 customers, all of that information is already on file attached to your name or address, and we can quickly look up your information on file with either Shankster Bros, Strombeck Bros, North Webster Septic Tank Service, or Shepler Septic Tank Cleaning, and give you an instant quote based on your filed information.

A general average cost to clean out a septic tank in Northern Indiana is as follows, although you can see specific pricing varies according to the parameters I have outlined above:

1000 gallon tank cleaning – $200 – $300.00
Per gallon over 1000 gallons – 7 cents per gallon
Dig fee – $75.00 per hour
Line cleaning – $225 – $300.00
Retrofit Riser – $190.00

If you need to schedule a septic tank cleaning, pumping, or inspection, don’t hesitate to call Shankster Bros. at any time.

Does Having a Large Family Mean I Should Pump My Tank More Often?

Does Having a Large Family Mean I Should Pump My Tank More Often?

Septic tank pumping and cleaning are like any other regular household maintenance, it is largely dependent on how much you use the item requiring service.

For instance, those who drive for work need more regular oil changes than someone who drives rarely. Your HVAC system in your home needs more maintenance if you live in an extremely hot or cold climate versus a locale where you can usually keep your windows open. And, if you have a large family, or just use a lot of water, you probably need to pump your septic tank more frequently than you might think.

If you use a septic system for professional laundry, such as an Airbnb where you are washing linens regularly, or if you have a garbage disposal or water softener installed in your kitchen, these are factors requiring more frequent service of your septic system.

If you have a large family (more than four people in your household) or a long-term uptick in your household count (such as a foreign exchange student or elderly relative) it’s probably a good idea to pump your septic tank once every 12-18 months instead of the usually recommended 2-3 years.

Septic tanks can back up or fail entirely if not maintained properly

As always, if you notice any foul smells, slow drainage, or other signs of septic tank backup, call and get your septic tank professionally inspected and pumped IMMEDIATELY. No matter how many people are in your family or how often you use your plumbing, septic tanks can back up or fail entirely if not maintained properly, and the fall-out can be costly, time-consuming and unpleasant for everyone.

If you don’t remember the last time you got your septic tank pumped, it’s probably time to schedule a septic service. If you recently purchased a property that has a septic system and you aren’t sure what the maintenance has been like in the past, it’s probably time to schedule a septic tank pumping.

No matter how big your family is or what shape your septic system is in, we can help. Call Shankster Bros today to schedule your septic maintenance. Call us at (260)-982-7111

Septic System Repair: Warning Signs That You May Need Pro Repairs

Septic System Repair: Warning Signs That You May Need Pro Repairs


Slow Draining in Your Home

Most home and property owners assume that a little Drain-o or a roto visit from a plumber can easily fix slow-draining sinks or bathtubs. That might be true, but if you operate on a septic system, it’s important to know that slow drainage can be a sign of septic system trouble or failure, in particular if you notice this symptom in more than one sink, tub or drain in your home. If more than one of these is draining slowly in your home or business, your septic tank might be backing up or outflow pipe might be impacted.

Backing up Sewage

Slow drainage might be the first sign of a septic problem, but your septic tank issues might skip straight to backing up, in some situations. If you notice sludge in your bathtubs, water coming up in your sinks, or other signs of back up from your septic system, this is a common indicator that your septic system is in serious need of septic tank pumping or septic system repair.

Water on the Drain Field

We advise our customers to keep an eye on their septic system drain field and walk through that area of your property semi-frequently to check for issues. If you start to notice standing water, unseasonable dampness or any kind of smell in your yard or drain field, it’s a good idea to call for a pumping or septic system inspection. If your drain field is not functioning properly, this could also mean that your septic tank or drain piping is also in trouble.

Unpleasant Smells

Septic systems, when they work properly, are very clean and hygienic for your whole family. Your home should not smell from bad plumbing, and you should not encounter sewage smells in your yard, either. If you start to smell your septic system in your bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere else that you have a drain in your home, that’s a sign that your septic system is not performing properly.

If you see or smell any of these warning signs in your home or business, call us right away at (260)-982-7111. We are available to help with any emergency septic service or maintenance and are glad to answer any septic questions you may have.

Septic Service in Indiana – 6 Steps to a New Septic System

We love our home state of Indiana and we strive to be one of the foremost septic system maintenance companies around here. We excel at septic pumping, farm drainage, septic system maintenance and more because we know our local ecosystems, municipal regulations, and best practices so well.

You need a local septic service company, and one with a long track record of success and environmental awareness for any level of septic service. We strive to be the best option for you!

Most states have slight variations to septic system laws for ongoing maintenance and new installation. We follow our state’s regulations for all maintenance, and we know that in Indiana, there are six basic steps to a new septic installation.

The Six Steps to a New Septic System in Indiana

  1. Evaluation (hire a licensed soil scientist to evaluate the soil on your property. This should be done in conjunction with a septic system professional.)
  2. System Requirements (questions to ask as you plan your system: how many people will be using the system? Any unusual needs or high-volume concerns?)
  3. Design (where to place the tank, drain field, etc. to render an effective solution for your unique location.)
  4. Permitting (your county will need to sign off on the permits for your new system, inspecting periodically to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the new septic system.)
  5. Installation Bids and Interviews (shop around for the best installation quality and value.)
  6. Septic Tank and Drainfield Installation (this is the fun part – get your septic system installed in working order.)
  7. Inspection (After an inspection from your county official, enjoy the peace of mind of a well-running system for yourself and your household.)

While installing and maintaining a septic system isn’t complicated, it is essential that you have a trusted advocate throughout the process. We’re glad to be that resource for you. We are happy to answer any questions about the permit process in Indiana, the unique environmental concerns we experience here or anything else you might need information on, with regards to your septic service needs. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your septic tank, please give us a call at (260)-982-7111

Need a Septic Tank Inspection or Tank Pumped? This checklist will help.

Need a Septic Tank Inspection or Tank Pumped? This checklist will help.

We’ve talked about septic tank pumping, cleaning, and routine maintenance quite a bit on this blog, but what are the things you should check when getting a septic tank inspection or your septic tank pumped? Here’s our checklist for your septic pumping professional. Whether it’s a routine pumping, a new-home purchase septic tank inspection or an emergency septic rescue, these are the essential pieces of your system:

Septic tank lid

Having an old or damaged septic tank lid is extremely dangerous for both pets and people, and it can also lead to yard debris, trash, or other foreign materials getting inside the tank and creating flow problems. Your septic tank pumping company should be able to check your lid and replace it if necessary.

Inlet and outlet baffles or tees

Sometimes pieces of the tank can go missing, or become broken or clogged. When baffles or tees are compromised on either side of the septic tank, this can cause serious complications to your septic system performance.


If your tank is not full before pumping, it’s likely you have a septic tank leak. Also, watch out for over-saturated soil around the tank, or a tank that refills while being pumped – not a good sign.

Sludge in the outlet, and high liquid

If there is sludge or solids in the outlet pipe, and a liquid level in the tank that is over the top of the outlet pipe, you either have a clog in the outlet or a problem in your drain field. It might also mean that your tank is not breaking down the solids effectively, which might mean other septic tank problems.


Root systems are a major cause of septic backup, so ask your septic tank company to check around the tank for excess roots. Sometimes it’s necessary to remove trees or vegetation to ensure adequate drainage, but we try to create an environment in which both your septic system and your landscaping can thrive.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about your septic tank, if you need to get it pumped, cleaned or need a septic tank inspection, please give us a call at (260)-982-7111. We’re happy to help with any routine or emergency maintenance, and we pride ourselves in efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly service.


The Best and Worst Septic Safe Cleaning Products

The Best and Worst Septic Safe Cleaning Products

Picking the best or avoiding the worst septic safe cleaning products is critical to maintaining a healthy septic system. Your home or business septic system is dependent on vibrant, active bacteria to keep your septic tank healthy and your system running tirelessly. Next to regular pumping and maintenance, avoiding corrosive, bacteria-killing products is probably the most important aspect of keeping your septic system running smoothly.

Here’s a quick list of the common household septic cleaning products to avoid when you have a septic system:

1. Ammonia and Bleach

It’s OK to use a small amount of either of these cleaners, although it’s better for your overall septic health to avoid them. But certainly, use it sparingly – the same bacteria you want it to kill in your sink and clothes washing machine is actually a positive thing in your septic tank. While small amounts won’t affect the bacteria in your tank too much, it’s a good thing to keep in mind.

2. Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Detergent

It’s smart to purchase septic-safe or all-natural dishwasher and laundry detergent, which has grown in popularity in recent years and is a very effective cleaning agent. Most standard detergents have scary-sounding chemicals such as phosphates and surfactants, which can contaminate your local water sources through your drain field. This can kill fish, harm wildlife and even make it back into your drinking water.

3. Drain Cleaner

Like bleach and ammonia, small, occasional uses of drain cleaner will not impact your septic tank. But if you have old, troublesome pipes and find yourself reaching for the Draino bottle on a regular basis, it might be time to do some plumbing work instead. The risk of killing your septic system’s bacteria and causing a costly repair is significant.

So Are The Septic Safe Cleaning Products

While there are many septic additives containing bacteria and enzymes available for purchase, a healthy body produces waste rich in bacteria. Therefore, every time you flush, you are adding the right bacteria to your septic system! The best thing you can do for your septic in addition to pumping and maintenance is to stay healthy, and avoid flushing or running down the drains bacteria-killing chemicals.


If you need assistance or maintenance on your system contact Shankster Bros at (260) 982 – 7111

Septic Tank Inspection Checklist For Installation Services


Septic Tank Inspection Checklist For Installation Services

Here’s an easy-reference checklist for your septic tank installation. While septic systems are very common in the U.S., (nearly 30% of homes have a septic tank!) they can be complicated to install and keep up, if you haven’t done it before or are moving to a new area.  

Here is our quick-reference checklist for any septic system and septic tank installation. As always, if you have further questions or need more personalized help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

  1. Learn about home septic system permits for your area

Your installer should have up-to-date and easy-to-understand knowledge of the unique environmental concerns of your area, but it’s always wise to do some research for yourself as well. Calling your local county planning or building office should point you in the right direction, and give you an idea of the costs and timeline involved in a new septic.

  1. Look at multiple septic options and installation quotes

Every septic professional has a different view of the ideal installation timeline and what’s best for your environment. Become educated by looking at all of your options as well as getting multiple quotes from installers to make sure you get the right treatment and price for your septic project.

  1. Locate and protect your septic system area

Talk to a septic installer or your local Health Department about the placement of your new septic system. Usually, an independent soil scientist will need to evaluate the soils to determine the best location. After your site is selected, be sure not to drive through the area with anything larger than a lawnmower, as any disturbance can render the site unusable.

  1. Decommission or remove an old septic system

We encourage homeowners to keep older septic systems running smoothly with regular septic tank maintenance and cleaning, but sometimes, old systems simply need to be retired. Maybe you’re moving into an older home that’s been vacant or used as a rental, or maybe your area has experienced severe weather that has affected your septic permanently. During installation of new your septic system, be sure to have the old system either removed or decommissioned according to the best practices in your area.

  1. Get a timeline for pump system installation and plan for water outage

Every installer is different, but because of the nature of septic system installations, your water will need to be turned off for at least some of the installation time. Get a reasonable quote for the time involved in your installation, and plan for your plumbing to be off during that time.

  1. Find out about landscaping options for Septic Tank Systems

Most drain fields do best with grass coverage but find out from landscapers and septic professionals in your area what works best for tanks and drain fields. You can still have beautiful landscaping with a septic system in place, you might just need a few minor adjustments.

  1. Inspect and Record System

Ask for a full record of your installation, and a professional inspection before you begin use of your new septic system. With careful documentation, maintenance, and a little planning, you will have a worry-free septic system for years to come. All of these are important factors, will help you through the process with a septic tank inspection checklist.

At Shankster Bros., we’re here to help with your septic tank and drainage needs. Please get in touch with any questions or concerns about septic tank systems and we’re happy to help.

Be in the know: The ins and outs of Septic Tank Pumping

Be in the know: The ins and outs of Septic Tank Pumping

Once you hire Shankster Bros (septic tank cleaning company in Indiana). to inspect, service, and pump your septic tank, it is our responsibility to do the job right with minimal cost, inconvenience, and delays. However, many homeowners like to know how their systems work, so here’s an overview of the ins and outs of septic tank pumping:

Keep a Septic Cleaning Schedule

The average septic tank pumping and cleaning schedule is every 3 to 5 years depending on household size, wastewater needs, and overall usage. (See some of our previous blog-posts about keeping a written schedule of septic services.) Regular cleanings and pumpings remove the accumulation of the scum and sludge layer in your septic tank, helping your septic system work efficiently and cleanly.

Accumulated Solids in Your Septic Tank

The total depth of the scum layer floating on top of the septic tank combined with the sludge layer in the bottom of the tank should never equal more than one-quarter of the contents of the septic tank. If it does, because of insufficient service, there is a high likelihood that the accumulated solids will flow into the outlet pipe and out into the drain field lines, causing plugging and drain field failure. If you have a septic drain field failure, septic tank pumpings will need to be done more regularly until the drain field is repaired. Repairing, or in some cases, replacing, a failed drain field can be an unpleasant and often costly enterprise for the homeowner, which is why we suggest regular maintenance instead.

Digging Up Your Septic Tank Lids

Most septic tanks are buried 1 to three feet underground, and many have risers that extend to the surface, providing easy access for cleaning. However, some tanks are simply buried with no lids at the surface, requiring more extensive investigation and digging in order to service them. Of course, we always endeavor to keep your property as clean and undamaged as possible when we service your septic system.

If you are not the original owner of a septic system, or if it is a particularly old system, it might take more work to service. We are experienced in servicing all levels of septic systems, however, so we are happy to help, no matter how unique your situation.

If you have any questions about how to service your septic tank pump system, find your septic tank or drain field, or about the needs of an older septic system, give our office a call today at (260)-982-7111.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Pumping Your Septic Tank

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Ignore Pumping Your Septic Tank  

Are your sinks, bathtubs, and toilets slowly draining? Are you noticing spongy or soggy areas of water on the ground or above the septic tank?  If so, most likely you’re one of the almost 25% of US households who have a septic system installed in their home that needs to be pumped or cleaned. One of the aspects of being a septic tank homeowner is having to deal with the routine maintenance of emptying your septic tank. Therefore, it’s critical to know why you shouldn’t ignore pumping your septic tank.

Your septic tank pump system is important because it disposes of all of the waste in your home, including household chemicals, excrement, food scraps, and bath water to name a few. A septic tank system features four components: the wastewater pipe which connects to your home, a septic tank to digest solid waste, the perforated pipes to allow liquid waste to seep into the drain field, and the surrounding soil to counterpoise waste contents. Understanding how your septic system works is essential in order to spot any signs of failure. The following are three reasons why you shouldn’t ignore pumping your septic tank.

  1. Solid waste builds up over time and doesn’t decompose quickly which can contaminate your water.
  2. Your tank will overfill with excess discharge and back up your waste system if you don’t pump it periodically.
  3. The overflow from your septic tank will flood your drain field and create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies that spread infectious diseases.

The process of pumping your tank is not always a pleasant one, but a necessity we’re not only happy to assist you with, but it would also be our pleasure.  

If you live in northeastern Indiana and have a septic system, farming operation or other residential drainage or wastewater needs, we would be honored to earn your business.

Shankster Bros. is a family-owned company that understands the unique needs of Indiana farmers, homeowners, and rural clients. We know the weather patterns, water-use regulations and unique needs of the land here, and we believe that it is our job to help land-owners, agriculturalists, homeowners, and business people steward our natural resources well through effective wastewater management and drainage. We have been in business since 1999, we are fully licensed, and we can address almost any problem or service in agricultural and residential drainage, throughout northeastern Indiana.  

We provide a complete menu of septic system services including:

  • Installation
  • Inspection
  • Line Cleaning
  • Septic Tank Maintenance
  • Repair
  • Septic Tank Pumping
  • Septic System Design
  • Excavation and Bulldozing Services

If you have questions about how to service your septic system, what your farm drainage needs are, or when to schedule a septic tank pumping or repair, don’t hesitate to call us. You also might find helpful information here on our blog. We’ve taken the time and effort to compile high-quality posts with helpful tips, guidelines, and resources for your education and convenience.

Thank you for trusting us with your homes, businesses, and farms in northeastern Indiana. We are honored to help manage your wastewater, drainage, septic and excavation needs, and we work hard to earn your repeat business and your referrals. Please give us a call at (260)-982-7111 today!