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How To Operate A Septic Vacuum Truck


Septic Vacuum TruckStinky business!

A septic vacuum truck is a specialized subcategory of vacuum pump trucks that has a powerful suction pump with a holding tank for wastewater and sewage.

Commonly used applications for septic vacuum truck is the emptying of residential septic systems. They are also used by municipalities for wastewater and storm clean up.

Once the suction pump is turned on and the vacuum starts to draw, a 3-6” vacuum line is connected and then used to empty a septic tank. The vacuum pump pulls air through a primary then a secondary shutoff, a filter system and creates a vacuum in the holding tank.

Pump sizes and pumping rates vary. They are water cooled, they can weigh close to 500 lbs and can pump sewage at up to 400 ft.³ per minute.

Septic Tank Cleaning

Septic Tank Cleaning Worker
  1. Locate the septic tank and remove the cover and break up the settled sludge layer that is floating at the top with a muck-rake.
  2. Run the pumping vacuum lines from the septic vacuum tank truck to the septic tank – do not attach.  
  3. Turn on the vacuum pump and ensure proper operation.
  4. Use a bucket to catch excess wastewater before you remove the septic vacuum tank truck valve cover and attach the vacuum line.
  5. Connect the remaining vacuum or pumping hoses.
  6. To assist in vacuuming, use the muck rake to mix the sludge.


Sewage dumping is regulated by federal and state laws and must be transported to an approved site such as a waste treatment facility or refuse disposal site. Some communities have enacted a program to have their residents’ septic systems pumped at regular intervals.

Guzzler Septic Vacuum TruckGuzzler CL Septic Vacuum Truck


Septic Vacuum Truck Tank Cleaning

Once the sewage has been properly disposed of, the vacuum truck needs to be thoroughly cleaned. There is always some sludge that remains in the vacuum tank truck and this needs to be removed. If this accumulates it can become extremely dangerous if mixed with other materials that are pumped at a later date.

Cleaning is usually done by accessing the interior of the tank through 2 access holes or manholes. The interior can be usually be cleaned by high pressure washer, the interior with water and disinfecting cleaners if necessary. If there is any hard to remove sludge, a unit called a tank vibrator is attached to a fitting on the tank to help loosen the material.

If the tank hasn’t been cleaned in a while and there is a lot of sludge buildup, then it becomes a really disgusting cleanup task. Usually two men would enter the tank via the manholes and then manually remove the accumulated waste material.

Final cleanup involves washing down the exterior of the truck to remove any residual muck.

All water that is recovered during the septic vacuum truck cleanup procedure is considered contaminated and must be disposed of as sewage.


Vacutrux Septic Vacuum TruckVacutrux Septic Vacuum Truck


Operator Safety

Septic vacuum truck operators need to wear personal eye protection equipment, gloves, and an apron to provide protection from the hazards of sewage splash-back. Click here for more information on getting OSHA training online.

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