The world of septic tanks is one that isn’t really thought of or spoken about, but for many homes, especially those in rural communities they are the unsung heroes of the drainage world.   Septic tanks enable sewage from properties to be disposed of when they are not able to be connected to the main line and therefore travel to the necessary treatment plant.  They do this by separating the solid waste  from the water, collecting the waste at the bottom of the tank and allowing the effluent water to go to ground through a drainage field.   Bacteria will then breakdown the waste that has settled at the bottom of the tank – this process is called Anaerobic digestion.  

It decomposes? Then how and why does it need to be maintained?

Valid question. From first glance it looks  as though these helpful feets of engineering are completely self sufficient.   However, in theory, so does the main drainage system and that comes upon stumbling blocks regularly!

What can happen to a septic tank to stop it working?

  • Blockages – mainly wipes!! If something isn’t bio degradable then the digestion progress will not effect it, meaning that it will stay in the tank, this will cause a blockage and eventually over spill effluent if not sorted.
  • Fat and Grease- This stuff is the killer of pipes and drainage systems, it starts out as fluid but it does not stay fluid!  This can cause a blockage in the tank  and stop the drainage field pipes from working correctly meaning the effluent does not go to ground but stays in the pipes, eventually backing up, creating a lovely bog!
  • Breakages-  Like with anything, a septic tank is not indestructible.  Cracks, fractures and breakages can occur and if this does happen it can cause major pollution issues.  Obviously your septic tank is full of foul waste, if the tank itself is not fit for containment of this waste if can seep into the ground or water course polluting the area.

How do I know if something is wrong?

Drainage is underground, so is not going to jump out at you to say that it is struggling.  there are signs to look out for however.

  • Toilets/ sinks backing up or not flowing away.
  • Odours coming from the drainage line or outside
  • Unexplained water puddling from around the septic tank area.

Under the new regulations your septic tank must be fit for purpose so if any of the above signs pronounce themselves you must get these attended to and tanks must be regularly emptied and maintained.

How is a septic tank maintained then?

A septic tank is maintained through regular emptying, cleaning and inspections to ensure that all is working as it should.  This will be done by utilising a tanker and emptying the sludge from the tank.  It would then be washed down and the tank itself inspected for any fractures or breakages.  If a tank is regularly maintained- every 6 months to a year- the issues mentioned above are far less likely to occur.  The best form of offence is defence!

Septic tank Regulations in the UK are changing the law will becoming into implantation on the 1st January 2020 find out all you need to know here on our septic tank information page

 

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