Septic Tank Care

How to care for your Septic Tank

 If you have just purchased a property which has a septic tank foul water system, there are many things that you can do to help prolong the life of the soakaway drainfield.

Divert Rainwater From the Septic Drainfield

  • A saturated drainfield can't absorb enough septic effluent.
  • Plan landscaping, roof gutters and surface drains so that excess water is diverted away from the soakaway area.

Don't Overload the Septic Tank and Drainfield

The amount of water used in the home has increased dramatically over the last 20 years.  If your septic tank pre-dates the current regulations, it is probably too small and struggling to cope with current flow rates.  There are things you can do to reduce this problem:-

  • Repair leaking and dripping taps and toilets.  Dual Flush toilets often leak at the valve after a period of time and need replacing. 
  • Use aerators on taps and low-flow showers to help lower water consumption.  Power showers just increase the volume of water used. 
  • Change to a low water consumption washing machine and reduce water levels for small laundry loads.
  • Don't run a half-empty dishwasher.
  • Toilets account for over 35% of all the water used in the home, water which overloads your soakaway.  Fit dual flush toilets, use a 'Hippo'  or, even better, convert your existing toilet to an 'eco' toilet with an INTERFLUSH conversion kit to reduce the amount of water needed to flush to the absolute minimum.   The Interflush Is a kit which fits on top of your WC siphon and connects to the front mounted flush handle.The toilet only flushes when the handle is held down, releasing the handle stops the flush (when pan is clear). It only uses the exact amount of water required, any less and the toilet would need flushing again. That is why nothing can flush a toilet with less water.   

 Keep Trees Away from the Septic System

  • Discourage root damage by keeping trees at least 30 metres away from the soakaway.
  • Trees with very aggressive roots, such as willows and poplars, should be even farther away from the system.

Don't use your toilet and sink as a rubbish bin

  • Never flush cat litter, disposable nappies, pantie liners, tampons, paper towels, facial tissues, coffee grounds, or cigarette ends down the toilet   They'll clog your septic tank in less time than you might imagine.
  • Don't install a waste disposal unit as these can double the amount of solids going into the septic tank.

Be sensible with cleaning and disinfection products and what you pour down the sink

  • Overuse of Anti-Bacterials, disinfectants and heavy cleaners will kill the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank which digest your solids.
  • Don't use anti-bacterial hand wash products as you are poisioning your septic tank bacteria with every wash.
  • Do Not Pour Grease or oil Down the sink.  Wipe greasy dishes with paper towels before washing.
  • Grease clogs the septic tank soakaway, and effectively 'waterproofs' it, making it impossible for soil to absorb liquids. If that happens you'll need a new soakaway.
  • White Spirit, varnish, paint thinners, motor oils, petrol and other similar chemicals will ruin your septic system and are not easily broken down by soil bacteria.  They will pollute groundwater.
  • Condensate from Condensing Boilers is very acidic and must not go into the foul drains

Protect your soakaway

  • Do not drive over the soakaway, build a structure on top of it, or cover it with concrete or Tarmac.  Gravel is OK, but only for foot traffic. 
  • Sow grass over the soakaway area, if possible, as grass takes up a lot of water.

Maintain your septic system

  • Solids must be pumped from the septic tank on an ANNUAL basis.  Ignore the ignorant who tell you that 'septic tanks never need emptying!  They only store 12 months worth of sludge and extending the 12 month emptying interval will ruin your soakaway! 
  • Never lift the lid of a septic tank yourself, particularly if you are alone!  The gases in the tank can overcome you very quickly and the bacteria are dangerous!  Sewage workers must have reglular vaccinations, including Hepatitis, Tetanus and Diptheria, to protect against them.