What do the latest septic tank regulations mean for you?

From the 1st January 2020 if your waste from your septic tank goes directly into a river or stream tour tank must be updated. Don’t wait until the time arrives as it is actually polluting the environment. The new system must meet the british standards and any new tanks or units must have planning permission.  

Any new septic tank/sewage treatment unit must have both planning permission and building regulations approval. If it’s been installed since 1 January 2015 and you didn’t get these permissions when it was installed then you should apply retrospectively for them both. 

The Environment Agency require you to connect to the mains if your property is within 30 metres of a mains sewer there are special rules for non-standard systems, for example reed beds, and in those cases you should contact the Environment Agency to find out.

If you need any help or general advice to comply with the new legislation get in touch.

Septic Tank Covers

A septic tank lid may not seem the most important part of the system but in fact it is. Replacing the lid on a regular basis may help to stop any problems with your tank such as odors seeping out and the system been clogged up. 

There are a few precautions you should be aware of to make sure your tank cover is safe. Never leave the lid open unattended and make sure the cover is secure to prevent someone falling into the septic tank as this may be fatal. Make sure any repairs are dealt with as soon as they are notice as this could also prevent further problems.

Modern covers are made from thin metal,and even though it's galvanised they do not last many years. So when looking for a longer lasting cover they are best made out of a piece of 6mm thick sheet metal.

While you're replacing you cover why not have a clean out and make sure your tank is still working at its best why not give us a call 01782 791 305. 
 

Septic Tank Inspections

When buying a new property with a septic tank it is important to carry out an inspection to identify any problems. This could prevent any problems which in the future which may become severe and cost you thousands.

A septic tank inspection not only highlights any problems or failings with your septic tank but makes sure your system complies with all regulations.

There are some new regulations concerning septic tanks coming in at the beginning of 2020 and because of this, solicitors who are acting for the purchases of houses are starting to ask the homeowners for a septic tank inspection, the requirement for this will increase as the date gets closer.

When undergoing an inspection it is important that the septic tank is emptied on the day when the inspection is due to take place. This will help the inspection be more accurate and thorough. During the inspection a camera is lowered into the tank to check the condition of the tank and pipe works.

An inspection will be able to tell if your septic tank is right for your property in terms of size and if it complies with regulations. It will be able to outline any problems and failures and give recommendations on how these should be dealt with to prevent further problems.

If you need your septic tank cleaning in advance of inspection we can help please give us a call 01782 791 305

Gaining Access to Septic Tanks

Domestic septic tanks are commonly found in areas which can be often hard to reach or very inaccessible. We have a four wheel drive vehicle which allows us to gain access to those areas which a have difficult access efficiently. Whether you're located up a narrow lane, or a muddy track we can successfully get to you.

Septic tanks can also be located in a small area of the garden with limited vehicle access, however with our extra pipes we can reach those difficult hard to get tanks. We always apply a professional service along with being highly experienced. We ensure that the work that is required is completed in a clean, safe and professional manner.

Signs that you need your drains unblocking

The most typical symptom is a water backup. Water will back up from your floor drains or cease to drain in sinks or bathtubs. Toilets not flushing properly as well as gurgling sounds or odours coming from your drains are also signs you may have a problem forming.

Many people don't take action until it is too late. If your sink or bath empties slowly you should consider taking action before a more serious problem occurs such as flooding. If you have tried pouring hot water down your sink or using a pipe snake to clear more local blockages and the problem still persists then get in touch and we'll be happy to help and advise on further action.

 

Can Jetting damage my drains or pipes?

Drain Jetting works well because it's fast and not very invasive and there is no risk of damaging your pipework. Drain jetting under high pressure is one of the best ways to help clear block drains.

Drain Jetting is great choice for not only blocked drains but for though are running slower than normal. It's also a great way to provide general maintenance and avoid problems down the line as it reduces debris and oily, greasy, grimy build ups. Our drain jets have the power to clear stubborn drain problems fast. 

Got slow running drains or a blockage? we can help. Get in touch!

 

Common septic tank problems

The most common problems with a septic tank occur from a lack of maintenance. Emptying your septic tank regularly will help keep your system running without much problem but there is also additional care you can take that will reduce future problems.

Typical problems include:

  • Your pipes or soakaway become blocked
  • Pump failures
  • Strong smell coming from the septic tank or drains
  • Your soakaway becomes oversaturated
  • Damaged pipes
  • Septic tank effluent surfacing on your land
  • Gurgling or loud noises
  • Slow flushing of toilets or overflowing problems

You can read more about how to keep your septic system running smoothly or if you need more help and advice get in touch and we'll be happy to help. 

How quickly can you come if I have a problem with my Septic tank?

We operate 7 days week and excel at providing a super fast efficient response and most can be dealt with the same day you call.

We are based in Stafford and cover a wide area including:

  • Eccleshall
  • Stone
  • Stafford
  • Rugeley
  • Market Drayton
  • Whitchurch
  • Nantwich
  • Stoke
  • Newcastle
  • Uttoxeter
  • Leek
  • Newport
  • Crewe
  • Biddulph
  • Whitmore
  • Penkridge
  • Gnosall
  • Cheadle.

What to do if the ground around your Septic Tank System becomes boggy and smells

If this is the case then the problem likely lies with your soakaway, not the septic tank. Every septic tank  has a soakaway connected To It. A soakaway allows the liquid from the septic tank to drain away into the soil.

How quickly the septic tank soakaway becomes a failure depends on a few different things, including how often the septic tank has been emptied, the nature of the soil, the height of the winter water table, heavy rain periods and the deterioration of the septic tank itself.

People often make the mistake that when a problem develops with their sewage system it is the septic tank. But in most cases it is the soakaway that is the problem. The soakaway is a very important part of your septic tank sewage system. Over time all soakaways eventually become blocked as they silt up with sludge, grease and fat. 

The solution is often simply having you soakaway pipes jetted to clear them and then ensuring you undertake regular maintenance and emptying.

How to keep your septic system running smoothly

Looking after your septic system with regular maintenance is key to keeping your system running smoothly and saving expensive repair or replacement costs.

Your septic system should give you many years of life but neglecting regular maintenance could result in early deterioration of your septic and drainfield systems.

Just like you need to look after a vehicle with regular serving, or a boiler in your house the same can be said about your septic system. Regular Maintenance and Inspections will catch problems early in their stages, and allow you to fix those problems before they lead to a system failure, potentially saving you thousands in replacement cost.

Here are a few tips to keep your system running smoothly for many years to come

1. Have your Septic System pumped regularly.

The average home will need to have the septic tank pumped out every year. This helps reduce the build up of solids that could overload your septic system and cause problems with your soakaway.

2. Make sure all access lids and ports are sealed tight.

Water can penetrate poorly sealed lids and ports and cause problems in your septic system. If water does penetrate your system it can hydraulically overload your septic system and cause the soakaway to become oversaturated.

This is often more of a problem with pressure type systems. This also puts extra pressure on your pumps as they have to work harder, overworking, wasting energy and costing you money..

3. Do not cover or obstruct your system

Avoid covering or obstructing your septic system. Don't cover with any concrete, decks, framing or structures that would impede you from accessing and keep vehicles away from the area.

 Extra pressure can cause damage to the pipes or your tank and if your soil gets compacted, you will likely suffer from drainage problems. Replacement or maintenance will be more difficult as access may be limited.

4, Avoid additives or rejuvenators in your septic tank.

Some additives claim to break up sludge or to unclog soakaway systems but they can actually damage your system, causing frothing and excessive activity and thus preventing normal settling of solid wastes.

Before adding anything to your system always seek professional advice first before introducing additives.

5. Avoid flushing any items other than septage or toilet tissues.

If you use your toilet to dispose of other waste then you are introducing unacceptable items, some which will never decompose and likely block your system. This will lead to constant pumping of the septic tank.

Do not use a sink disposal unit if you are on a septic system. While those units grind up waste foods, most septic systems are not designed or capable of dealing with such undigested solids.

6. Avoid using heavy oils or cleaners.

Oil or grease float on water and they pose a threat of clogging the inlet pipes by filling up the upper part of a septic tank. This oil can also transfer into the transport pipes, solidify, and cause excessive buildup that can cause blockage of the soakaway.

7. Do not plant large vegetation over your septic area

Do not plant any trees or large shrubs over the septic area. Roots from these plants will eventually grow into the drain lines and obstruct or damage them.

Grasses, small plants or anything with a very shallow root system are ok however as the roots will not impede or block drain lines.

Some simple tips here will give you many happy years of service from your septic system. If you need any further advice don't hesitate to get in touch and we'll be happy to help.

8. Don't connect roof rain water into your septic system

This can cause an overload to your system and can wash suspended solids into your soakaway. 

 

 

Buying a House with a Septic Tank

If you are looking to purchase a new property in a rural area then there is a good chance that the property will have a septic sewage system. 

This should not put you off buying the property but there are some checks you can make to ensure you do not end up with unforeseen costs or problems before you move in to your new dream home.

First off, you need to ensure that the septic system will be able to cope with a change of owner! They may sound odd but if there were only 2 people living in the house and there will be now 6, you will have a vastly increased amount of water entering the soakaway.

If the previous owners never encountered any problems, it doesn't mean you won't so it's a good idea to seek professional help to ensure your septic system can cope with an increase in volume.

Just like many other systems such as heating for example, maintenance is key to a healthy trouble free system. Ask the buyer if the septic tank, sewage treatment plant or cesspit has been maintained regularly. If you can get to see invoices or receipts for tanker visits and/or service visits you'll be able to understand how often the system has been looked after. 

Every system need to have an annual emptying but a sewage treatment plant will also need to be regularly serviced as it has mechanical parts within it. If a drainage system hasn’t been maintained regularly, this could spell future trouble.

Also, if the property has a septic tank which is being emptied too frequently, then this could be a sign that the system is not operating efficiently.

If you’re working out your ongoing costs of owning the property, find out how much the tank emptying and any servicing costs. You can also ask us for advice and we'll be able to explain the typical costs you should expect to pay.

Some people rely on homebuyer surveys to tell them what’s going on underground but the majority of these only take a very basic look at a property’s drainage system. It is vital that you get a full pre-purchase drainage survey undertaken before buying a property.

Find out if any part of the system is on third party land. Is either the tank itself, the pipework or a soakaway system on a neighbour’s property or farmland? This could pose a problem if you need to seek permission for access, repair or replacement.

If the property has a septic tank, where does the waste water go when it leaves the tank? If the waste water goes straight to a watercourse or a ditch, this is no longer legal under Environment Agency legislation and you'll will need to have this replaced with a compliant solution by 2020.

A compliant solution is a septic tank and soakaway system, or a sewage treatment plant for example. While this is not the end of the world, it simply means there may be additional costs involved you need to budget for or use as bargaining power when you are purchasing the property.

How to Care for a Septic Tank System

To help keep your septic tank system running efficiently there are a few things you can do to help prolong its life. 

The soakaway is a vital component and key to a trouble free system and reducing your water consumption will really make a big difference.

Ensuring that rainwater is diverted away from the soakaway will help with septic effluent absorption. A saturated soakaway can't absorb enough septic effluent.

If you have any leaking taps or toilets get these repaired and also consider having aerators fitted on taps to help lower water consumption.  

If you have a dishwasher, ensuring you only operate once full will reduce the amount of water you use as it will need to be operated less.

For more tips, please see our how to keep your septic system running smoothly article.

If you need our waste management services please get in touch.

 

Septic Tank Insurance Claims

Life is filled with unexpected surprises. Over time things fail and need repair and we are often faced with a large bill. Be it car repairs, heating system failure or even your septic system.

Insurance helps out and the right insurance can help you cover the cost of any unforeseen large bills. If you have to undertake a large repair or replacement for your septic system it's a good idea to check your insurance policy to see if you are covered or better still make sure you have the right cover in the first place.

Insurance typically covers your septic system if an accident occurs that is sudden and unexpected. An example of this might be if you had a house fire and the septic line beneath your house was damaged. Because this is a sudden and unexpected accident, your homeowners insurance would cover the claim.

Insurance typically doesn’t cover your septic system for wear and tear. Just like your central heating system, if your pump fails this is classed as wear and tear and unless you have additional cover, you'll likely not be able to claim.

Does Household Building Insurance Cover Cover my Septic System?

If your drainage system, septic tanks or sewerage treatment plant has been regularly emptied and maintained and suddenly encounters ed an issue, it is likely that your household building insurance will cover the necessary repairs or replacements.

You'll need to check your own policy of course but the following types of damage to a drainage system are typically covered by buildings insurance policies:

  • Tree root damage to a soakaway
  • Tree root damage to connecting pipework or tanks.
  • Cracks or fractures in pipes and tanks affecting their structure.
  • Broken dip pipes or t-pipes on outlet.
  • Collapsed or damaged baffle.
  • Tanks that have moved by ground pressure or flooding.
  • Damage to tanks by vehicle movement.

 

How to help minimise Drain Blockages

To help minimise drain customers we always advise our customers to  "think when you are at the sink!". If you do get a drain blockage, boiling water and/or a drain snake as the best ways to help clear any internal blockages.

Many drain blockages are caused by sanitary products and another top cause is fat, oil and grease. Some of the other worst offenders are items such as cleansing wipes, cotton buds and nappies.

By thinking about what you put down your toilets, sinks and drains, you can help to reduce blockages and decrease the risk of flooding. A blocked sewer is, of course, inconvenient for our customers but if it leads to sewer flooding it can be extremely unpleasant and stressful too.

To help reduce more serious drain blockages, never pour oils down the drain, this includes oil based paint and try to limit the use of any garbage disposal. Reducing the fats, grease and solids that enter your system will reduce that build up of grime that enters your system and this is even more important if you have a septic tank.  

Oil or grease float on water and they pose a threat of clogging the inlet pipes by filling up the upper part of a septic tank. This oil can also transfer into the transport pipes, solidify, and cause excessive buildup that can cause blockages.

 

How often Should a Septic Tank be Emptied?

Your tank should be emptied or “desludged” following the manufacturer's recommendations. If you are unsure just give us a call and we can help advise. As a general guide, Septic tanks should be emptied when the level of sludge reaches 50% of the tank’s volume.

As most people won't know how often this is, as a guide for an average household of 4 people the recommended period is that annual emptying will be required. Failure to do so will lead to suspended solids passing through to the soakaway and block your pipes and stone.

There are some common signs and symptoms that your tank is not working properly or needs emptying

  • A smell of sewage in the area
  • Slowly draining sinks, toilets and baths
  • Polluted water in a ditch or watercourse
  • Overflowing from inspection cover
  • Surface flooding “downstream” from the tank
  • Nettles and vigorous plant growth “downstream”