Everything you need to know about Septic Tanks


What is a septic tank?

A septic tank is usually installed when there is no access to the mains drainage, for example; on a farm in the middle of the field. A septic tank is an underground tank which has a two or three chamber system which collects the sewage from a property and allows it to decompose through bacterial activity, this then feeds into a soakaway (a pit into which waste water is pumped into which settles into the surrounding soil). However, solids left in the tank need to be removed manually, by us for example!

Are all septic tanks the same?

No, septic tanks come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Some are brick-built, some are steel, some are concrete, and some are plastic bottle-shaped containers that have two different chambers, an inlet drain and a soakaway. They all do the same job however, it would just depend on when they were built, and how they were installed, which could cause the septic tank to work better, or prevent the septic tank from working as well as some others. 

What shouldn't I put down my drains?

Bleach is especially important to note that it should not be put down drains if they are leading to a septic tank, the reason being that it kills all the bacteria that causes decomposition of the waste, therefore meaning you need to empty your septic tank more often. Otherwise; baby wipes, sanitary towels, condoms, fats, oils, and greases, are the main objects and substances that should not be put into your drains as this can cause damage and blockages. However, anything that is not bodily waste, or water waste, could cause a problem, so always make sure to check if you are unsure. 

How often will my septic tank need emptying?

It is recommended that your septic tank is emptied on at least an annual basis. 

What happens to the waste in the septic tank?

Any liquids that enter the septic tank via the inlet pipe are separated from the solids and are then sent to the soakaway. The solids remain in the tank, which is why we have to come and empty them on a regular basis, to ensure there is no damage or blockage to the soakaway. 

What do we do with the waste we take away?

As registered waste handlers, when we have collected all the waste from the tank, we then take the waste to a registered and reputable waste disposal site. 

Is my current system polluting the environment?

If it goes into a soakaway, no. However, if it does not go to a soakaway, and discharges to a water course i.e. stream, ditch, culvert etc, then there are acceptable levels of pollution which would be examined by the Environmental Agency, for more information on this please visit their website. If you are installing a septic tank now however, it would be illegal to discharge straight into a water course, so you would have to install a water treatment plant, rather than a septic tank.

Is it expensive to have a septic tank?

No, the cost for emptying your septic tank is usually between £150 and £350 depending on size. Also your water rate should be cheaper, as you would not be paying United Utilities for disposal of foul water, therefore bringing your water bills down considerably.