Septic Tanks: Everything You Need to Know

 

Independent Drainage – the south's septic tank specialist.

 

Septic tanks are a popular solution for properties without a mains sewer connection. What should you know before you get one installed or move into a property with a septic tank?

 

HOW DO SEPTIC TANKS WORK?

Septic tanks are simple underground chambers that separate solid waste from wastewater. Waste goes in, and the solids sink to the bottom. Bacteria get to work feeding on the waste and processing it. This anaerobic process helps break down waste before the wastewater is released into a drainage field for further treatment.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU EMPTY A SEPTIC TANK?

It’s dependent on use and capacity. For an average family of four with an average-sized septic tank, an emptying and maintenance schedule of once every two to three years may be enough – but it depends on how much water is used day to day. Annual empties aren’t uncommon, but anything over once a year could be a sign of septic tank problems.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A FULL SEPTIC TANK?

There are a few sure signs that your septic tank needs emptying:

 

  • Smells

  • Slow-draining sinks and fixtures

  • Sewage backup

  • Noisy pipes

  • Poor flushing

 

If you’re noticing these problems more regularly and your tank needs emptying more than once a year, there could be deeper issues. Book a free consultation with us to get your septic tank checked.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T EMPTY A SEPTIC TANK?

Some people think that not emptying a septic tank will cause it to explode. Thankfully, that’s not what happens – but failing to empty a septic tank can have still have damaging results.

 

If a tank is not emptied, the drainage field can become filled with sludge. This can cause the system to fail and contribute to environmental issues. It can take years to happen, but the resulting damage will be far costlier than regular emptying would have been – and far more disruptive and destructive to your property.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO EMPTY A SEPTIC TANK?

Costs are variable and depend on tank size, accessibility and state of repair. To get a quote, contact Independent Drainage today.

CAN I EMPTY MY OWN SEPTIC TANK?

No. Besides needing specialist equipment and expertise, you must be a registered waste carrier and comply with environmental and public health protocols to empty a septic tank.

WHAT KIND OF WATER GOES INTO A SEPTIC TANK?

If you’re not attached to mains sewage systems, all drains from your property go into your septic tank – unless you also have a greywater system installed. Greywater lines carry shower, bath, washing machine and sink water – basically, anything but toilet water. Greywater must still be processed, but is safer to store and filter than sewage.

IS BLEACH BAD FOR SEPTIC TANKS?

Try to limit the use of bleach and cleaning products as much as possible, as they can kill the bacteria that keep your septic tank working. A small amount of diluted bleach for cleaning is fine – but it’s best to use eco-friendly cleaners and products to reduce environmental impact and to keep your tank’s bacteria in good shape.

CAN YOU FLUSH TOILET PAPER IF YOU HAVE A SEPTIC TANK?

Yes, you can flush toilet paper away into a septic tank. Nothing but waste and toilet paper should be flushed, though – that includes paper towels and baby wipes.

I’VE HEARD MILK AND EGG SHELLS ARE GOOD FOR SEPTIC TANKS. IS THIS TRUE?

There’s no need to feed your septic tank’s bacteria anything other than waste. Milk won’t benefit them at all and if you want to make use of egg shells, the best thing to do is compost them! Try to avoid letting food unnecessarily enter your off-mains drainage system, as this can contribute to odours and more regular emptying.

HOW MANY YEARS DOES A SEPTIC TANK LAST?

Steel tanks tend to have the shortest lifespan, at around 10 years – but these are becoming rarer as plastic has phased steel out. With regular empties, cleaning and good day-to-day care, a properly installed and maintained septic tank made of plastic can last for decades; up to or even beyond 30 years.

Concrete septic tanks could last even longer depending on ground and water conditions, with 40 years being the lower end of life expectancy.

EXPERT ADVICE ON SEPTIC TANKS

Septic tanks are an excellent way to solve off-mains drainage challenges. If you want to learn more about septic tanks or need any kind of off-mains drainage support, talk to Independent Drainage. Call us now on 0800 0131301 or book a free consultation.