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Libspero

Septic Tanks

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Without wishing to hijack the other toilet related thread I wanted to start a separate one on septic tanks after someone mentioned it on the other thread.

In brief,   we moved in about 5 years ago and the tank has never been emptied.  I had cause to look in it a few months back after we had a blockage in the drain near the tank  (ultimately traced back to a pink unicorn..   gotta love kids and their "flushable" toys 9_9).

Anyway..  after getting covered head to foot in butt chocolate I thought I might as well take a look in the tank,   and it was looking pretty full.   I started putting muck munchers in it,  but to be honest I know nothing about septic tanks and never grew up with one.

Some neighbours empty theirs every few years

Some neighbours say they've never emptied them

 

To any / those of you who have them..  what do you do  ?

Edited by Libspero

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Depends how good the soakaway is I think. They generally do always need emptying at some point but I've had well over ten years from a large commercial system.

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Our hotel is on a septic tank and we have it emptied every 6 to 9 months. We tend to have more blockages when it is "full" ie when it needs emptying. You would not believe what some people will try and flush so I am frequently rodding. It means I get to know the system  and its problems but also means I am more effetive and kind find the problem more quickly. I have so far avoided getting fully sludged up. Even replacing the pump is comparatively starightforward now I know what to do and in what order.

Bear in mind the tank will always look full as the effluent keeps the tank topped up.What will happen though is that the stuff in the septic tank will become thicker and thicker. If left too long getting it out is more of  problem.

Our guy is pretty good and will persevere but I would imagine that a usual commercial firm may not be so understanding. 

If you have a treatment plant rather than a spetic tank then a lot of the solids are digested and so they need emptying much less frequently. 

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I think this video of an ongoing event down under has appropriate sounds for this thread.

(The final words are priceless)

 

(I was looking for an excuse to post it)

Edited by Hopeful

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18 minutes ago, man o' the year said:

Our hotel is on a septic tank and we have it emptied every 6 to 9 months. We tend to have more blockages when it is "full" ie when it needs emptying. You would not believe what some people will try and flush so I am frequently rodding. It means I get to know the system  and its problems but also means I am more effetive and kind find the problem more quickly. I have so far avoided getting fully sludged up. Even replacing the pump is comparatively starightforward now I know what to do and in what order.

Bear in mind the tank will always look full as the effluent keeps the tank topped up.What will happen though is that the stuff in the septic tank will become thicker and thicker. If left too long getting it out is more of  problem.

Our guy is pretty good and will persevere but I would imagine that a usual commercial firm may not be so understanding. 

If you have a treatment plant rather than a spetic tank then a lot of the solids are digested and so they need emptying much less frequently. 

This is the important bit -- know what you've got first.

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Local cleaning services company recommend every year. Ours we started off yearly, now doing 2 yearly and seeing how it goes and seems fine - they are pretty small tanks relative to others. Neighbour had not had his done for 8 years until it backed up / blocked up - required a dynorod callout and don't know how much that cost in comparison.  A lot will depend on size of tanks, household count, ecology of the tank and no doubt some weather related stuff that affects the drain away. Have never put any beneficial bacteria in - common in France where they are still used extensively and not overtly careful with "safe" chemical cleaners etc but seems to work.

When we moved in we had the tank drained only to find around a ton of tarmac tipped into it - obviously directly from the driveway the last time it had been resurfaced with gravel - spent a good day picking that out with a two handled postholder!

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1 hour ago, dgul said:

This is the important bit -- know what you've got first.

I'm not sure what the difference is,  but our tank is split into two halves.

The black water pours into the large side of the tank at one end.

Grey water then exits at the other behind what looks a bit like a chimney pot T- piece that helps stop any solids escaping.

The grey water drains along a half pipe that runs over the second side of the tank towards the soak away in the field behind. 

The second side is dry,  but presumably is there  in case the half pipe gets clogs so that it overflows into that side of the tank rather than blocking the soakaway.

I presume what I have just described is a septic tank ?

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1 hour ago, man o' the year said:

Bear in mind the tank will always look full as the effluent keeps the tank topped up.What will happen though is that the stuff in the septic tank will become thicker and thicker. If left too long getting it out is more of  problem.

That makes sense..

Ours was the consistency of a thickish pea soup.  Certainly not "floaty things on top,  water in the middle,  sludge at the bottom"  as most drawings tend to suggest is normal.

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2 hours ago, Libspero said:

Without wishing to hijack the other toilet related thread I wanted to start a separate one on septic tanks after someone mentioned it on the other thread.

In brief,   we moved in about 5 years ago and the tank has never been emptied.  I had cause to look in it a few months back after we had a blockage in the drain near the tank  (ultimately traced back to a pink unicorn..   gotta love kids and their "flushable" toys 9_9).

Anyway..  after getting covered head to foot in butt chocolate I thought I might as well take a look in the tank,   and it was looking pretty full.   I started putting muck munchers in it,  but to be honest I know nothing about septic tanks and never grew up with one.

Some neighbours empty theirs every few years

Some neighbours say they've never emptied them

 

To any / those of you who have them..  what do you do  ?

Annual de sludge is included in the rates in NI 

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19 minutes ago, Libspero said:

That makes sense..

Ours was the consistency of a thickish pea soup.  Certainly not "floaty things on top,  water in the middle,  sludge at the bottom"  as most drawings tend to suggest is normal.

 

Definitely floating layer on top  on ours  each time emptied - don't know about sludge on the bottom as whole lot just sucked up and has not been obvious, maybe bacterial balance is not right in your tank and septic system is not breaking down, maybe a pump out will reset it, don't know.

 

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26 minutes ago, Libspero said:

I'm not sure what the difference is,  but our tank is split into two halves.

The black water pours into the large side of the tank at one end.

Grey water then exits at the other behind what looks a bit like a chimney pot T- piece that helps stop any solids escaping.

The grey water drains along a half pipe that runs over the second side of the tank towards the soak away in the field behind. 

The second side is dry,  but presumably is there  in case the half pipe gets clogs so that it overflows into that side of the tank rather than blocking the soakaway.

I presume what I have just described is a septic tank ?

That's a septic tank.  Ought to empty annually otherwise the discharge side will get sludged up.

Newer 'septic tanks' will actually be 'treatment plants' that have a much cleaner output -- they have a third chamber with bubbles in.  Apparently.

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32 minutes ago, dgul said:

That's a septic tank.  Ought to empty annually otherwise the discharge side will get sludged up.

Newer 'septic tanks' will actually be 'treatment plants' that have a much cleaner output -- they have a third chamber with bubbles in.  Apparently.

Thanks.. 

Ours is pre-war so I didn't hold out much hope of it being anything particularly special..   other than being large enough to use as an emergency air-raid shelter when the doodlebugs are flying overhead. 

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Sounds like we'll need to get it emptied..   not sure how that works,  they'll either need to drive into the field behind which looks pretty boggy,  or run a long hose through the house and down to the end of the garden.

I guess the pros will know what they're doing  :/

Thanks for all the help :Passusabeer:

Edited by Libspero

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1 minute ago, Libspero said:

Sounds like we'll need to get it emptied..   not sure how that works,  they'll either need to drive into the field behind which looks pretty boggy,  or run a long hose through the house and down to the end of the garden.

I guess the pros will know what they're doing  :/

Thanks for all the help :Passusabeer:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it has always been my motto on everything. 

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15 minutes ago, One percent said:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it has always been my motto on everything. 

Usually I would agree..  but a blocked soak away would be a complete **** to fix so I'd rather tackle it early than defer maintenance I think.

We don't pay any sewage rates on our water bill so we've probably already saved £1000.  Should cover the cost of any pump out..   

 

I wonder if I can get the local farmer to pump it out for free to spread on his finest organic Cheshire potato crop..

z8kvonqi6oke7x5po5r1.gif

 

Edited by Libspero

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2 hours ago, Hopeful said:

I think this video of an ongoing event down under has appropriate sounds for this thread.

(The final words are priceless)

(I was looking for an excuse to post it)

G'day mate, no excuse required, it deserved it's own thread!

(Poor fish though)

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2 hours ago, onlyme said:

Local cleaning services company recommend every year. Ours we started off yearly, now doing 2 yearly and seeing how it goes and seems fine - they are pretty small tanks relative to others. Neighbour had not had his done for 8 years until it backed up / blocked up - required a dynorod callout and don't know how much that cost in comparison.  A lot will depend on size of tanks, household count, ecology of the tank and no doubt some weather related stuff that affects the drain away. Have never put any beneficial bacteria in - common in France where they are still used extensively and not overtly careful with "safe" chemical cleaners etc but seems to work.

When we moved in we had the tank drained only to find around a ton of tarmac tipped into it - obviously directly from the driveway the last time it had been resurfaced with gravel - spent a good day picking that out with a two handled postholder!

CCTV check alone is about 300 quid down here. If they don't know why it's blocked that's normally the first step. 

Every 2 years is the maximum I'd do, although if you have a large family definitely yearly. 

Muck munchers is to stop any smells I only do mine when it's starting to pong a bit when standing by the tank. 

They'll empty it with a huge pipe, they can stretch up to 50m IIRC off a standard one. Costs about a hundred quid in the SE, you don't need to be in. In fact id recommend not being in due to the smell...

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1 hour ago, Libspero said:

I'm not sure what the difference is,  but our tank is split into two halves.

The black water pours into the large side of the tank at one end.

Grey water then exits at the other behind what looks a bit like a chimney pot T- piece that helps stop any solids escaping.

The grey water drains along a half pipe that runs over the second side of the tank towards the soak away in the field behind. 

The second side is dry,  but presumably is there  in case the half pipe gets clogs so that it overflows into that side of the tank rather than blocking the soakaway.

I presume what I have just described is a septic tank ?

No, I think your coal cellar is flooded.

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1 hour ago, Harley said:

We do ours annually which is more than enough.  The important bit is to ensure no solids get into the soakaway.

Yes this is the most important thing.  A lot of problems are caused by the soakaways getting sludged up and blocked.

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Coincidentally, we had our septic tank emptied a couple of days ago.

Turns out it didn't need emptying but we bought the house 4 yrs ago and had no idea when it was last emptied and what might have been put into it. (Or even what sort of a septic tank we had!) So we paid €165 for someone with a truck to come and suck the solids out and tell us if it was looking OK.

He said it all looked fine & was nowhere near full, but good idea to get it emptied from time to time. (Well he would say that I suppose?)

All his comments were basically very reassuring ie tank is fine and large enough for the house size, very deeply buried and having a good hill assisted soak-away area. So probably no need to empty again for  3 or more yrs. Maybe never I'm thinking now, as we are quite careful with it and only 2 of us in a largish house?  (It might just rot down inside on its own and never get to a dangerously full state?) 

He filtered the water part of what he sucked out and put that back in as the water contains good microbes? (Don't need to waste any of those!) 

I think he said that when you look inside, (if you know where the opening hole for emptying it is) if you see a crust, that means it needs emptying. (Does that sound correct?)  Otherwise I guess one finds out there's a problem if/when the shit comes out of the loo instead of going down to the tank?!

In brief, as far as I can tell, how often you need to empty a septic tank depends on a lot of factors   eg

  • the type of tank
  • size of tank versus number of ppl using it
  • what goes down into it (ie shd be only bio waste and degradable loo paper - nothing else and limited or no use of bleach) 
  • the degree of digestion achieved (we put a dead mouse down sometimes as apparently that's good, others put a tablet in once a week or whenever)
  • its physical location (ie on the flat or down a steep hill like ours)

We still don't know how many litres ours holds. (We forgot to ask.) The chap reckoned we don't have a grease trap. He also couldn't find our ventilation pipes. And there was a mystery valve just outside the house which he didn't understand ie what it was there for. (And of course neither did we!)  So the septic tank remains somewhat of an enigma, but as long as it works, no need to worry?

Can't ever completely forget that we have a septic tank tho, as there's the occasional whiff of "drains" in the air either outside or inside one of the showers -  just to remind us!  xD Ah well, it's the countryside here. (Told to run water down sinks and showers is there's a smell as the water trap has probably evaporated.)

 

Edited by whocares

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