Septic tanks in the UK

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Graye
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Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242192 Graye
Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:30 pm

We had one of these when we lived in France. The French seem to have very sophisticated systems and sell all sorts of additives, you see them in every supermarket. Everyone seems to know the capacity of their "fosse" and can wax lyrical on all aspects of them - it seems almost to be a national obsession there.

Whilst looking for houses in Wales quite a few people pointed vaguely into the garden and said theirs needed no attention/emptying and many didn't even appear to know where theirs was or what it did. We are now about to move into our new house and this appears to have a modern system and we know it has been emptied recently so we are probably starting on a good footing. However I don't think I have noticed any of the addditives for sale in the UK (the name Eparcyl springs to mind). I know the French ones worked quite well without all the intervention and I'm wondering if we should in fact leave well alone, watch what we empty into it (things like bleach, white spirit and so on) and just make sure it is emptied every couple of years. Have we caught the French attitude/obsession and should we just stop fussing?
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242209 jamesb
Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:10 pm

as long as you look after a septic tank and dont use any cleaning chemicals in the house with bleach then you should never have any problems. you can buy additives in the UK from the likes of B&Q, in the old days they just stuck a dead rabbit in the tank, however these additives are just found naturally in human waste so just dont kill them by pouring bleach down your loo!

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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242214 pelmetman
Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:21 pm

When we had a good old Victorian three chamber brick built cess pit at our last house we had not problems and it saved us a fortune.

However here we have an electric type new fan fangled thingie and its a pain in the A................. In seven years we have had to pay out on at least 4 pumps which cost a lot of money. I am really careful not to put too much bleach, don't use biological washing powder etc down and when having visitors always tell them not to put sanitary items down (the same as when we were on mains as I find it disgusting putting things like that down the loo - please burn them!!) we still have problems. We have been putting down some bacteria aiding stuff that we buy from France every quarter but am not really convinced that it has helped.

Give us a good old fashioned cess pit any day of the week.

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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242300 Millymollymandy
Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:38 am

Graye - when we were house hunting in Normandy/Brittany very few people knew anything about their septic tanks, in fact some didn't even know where they were located. One house didn't have one at all and when we asked why not, the guy just shrugged and pointed to the river and said everyone who lived beside the river that their toilet outflow go directly into it! Ours is not a modern affair; only renovations or new builds after the new laws came into force have those. We, like everyone else, are still waiting, years later, to be ordered to put in the new fangled system to comply with current laws. :lol:

If you use eparcyl or tarax you CAN use bleach, but obviously not in huge quantities. I'd just do as you suggested, make sure nothing gets flushed which shouldn't get flushed and if your grey water goes into it then perhaps you do need to watch what kind of products you are using in the washing machine etc - or just keep cleaning out the grease trap. Our septic tank is just for the toilets, the rest goes via a grease trap to a soakaway then into the ditch.
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242321 Graye
Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:17 am

I think it must be a Dordogneshire ex-pat thing, MMM!

We haven't really investigated to discover what goes where at the moment, the garden is so overgrown after the house being empty for a year that it will take a while to hack our way down to that area and follow the routes of the pipes etc. The actual tank is located directly under a great polytunnel so will be accessible enough once we can chop our way through. At the moment all our stuff is still in storage (we have the keys but haven't actually moved in yet) so all gardening tools, chainsaws and so on are not available. Scarily enough, I'm not exaggerating on the chain saws, pats of the garden have not been touched for nine years and there are huge tree branches across paths, trees growing through fences and all sorts to knock into shape.

That's very interesting about the Parazone, thanks. I will definitely buy some before we arrive. I DO remember all the dishwasher and washing machine powders could be bought in "fosse-friendly" versions in France so I'll just have to start reading packs I suppose. Or stock up next time we go over as we seem to have a huge list of things we want to bring back...
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242327 Millymollymandy
Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:48 am

I think the main thing is to let visitors know what not to flush - before reading this forum I had no idea there were parts of the UK that weren't on mains drainage - thought it was the norm everywhere! Well in fact I thought it was the norm in France too until we moved to this house, having been on mains everywhere else we'd lived. :lol:
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242333 greenorelse
Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:49 pm

Not sure why anyone would really need bleach, but there you go.
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242352 KathyLauren
Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:17 pm

The guy who services our septic tank says that the only additive you need is poop. Avoid bleach, drain cleaners, and other toxic substances, and avoid excessive use of paper.

The tank should be pumped out every few years - the rate depending on size and usage. The previous owner of our place never had it pumped out. The result was that the drain field pipes were clogged. It was salvageable - they cleaned out the pipes - but you don't want it to get to that point. The tank needs to be emptied before it fill with solids. We have ours on a four-year schedule.

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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242405 Millymollymandy
Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:53 am

greenorelse wrote:Not sure why anyone would really need bleach, but there you go.

I have to bleach my washing up bowl several times a year as it gets so stained and disgusting. That doesn't go in our septic tank though.

I very occasionally put bleach in the toilet - normally I just use fosse friendly toilet cleaner - because when you let the yellow mellow it does stain the toilet and only bleach will get rid of it. :(
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242406 Millymollymandy
Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:57 am

KeithBC wrote:The guy who services our septic tank says that the only additive you need is poop. Avoid bleach, drain cleaners, and other toxic substances, and avoid excessive use of paper.

The tank should be pumped out every few years - the rate depending on size and usage. The previous owner of our place never had it pumped out. The result was that the drain field pipes were clogged. It was salvageable - they cleaned out the pipes - but you don't want it to get to that point. The tank needs to be emptied before it fill with solids. We have ours on a four-year schedule.

Isn't it better to inspect first as it may not be necessary - we had ours emptied after we moved here so we'd know when it was last done, and six years later it is absolutely fine and healthy - we know as we've done a (very) close inspection back in March when we had a bunged up toilet pipe. :lol: :lol: :lol: It doesn't even hardly smell and I've had my face practically in it and my arms were in the very watery liquid. :iconbiggrin:
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242432 KathyLauren
Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:47 pm

Millymollymandy wrote:Isn't it better to inspect first as it may not be necessary - we had ours emptied after we moved here so we'd know when it was last done, and six years later it is absolutely fine and healthy - we know as we've done a (very) close inspection back in March when we had a bunged up toilet pipe. :lol: :lol: :lol: It doesn't even hardly smell and I've had my face practically in it and my arms were in the very watery liquid. :iconbiggrin:

I agree that inspection is a good idea, and if inspection shows there is no problem, then all is fine.

One problem with that is that few people will want to do the inspection themselves. Another is that a quick inspection by an untrained person may not reveal problems. The critical factor - how deep are the solids - may not be apparent at all until there is already a serious problem.

While I could do the inspection myself, I'd just as soon pay someone to do it who knows what they are doing. All sources I have seen recommend a 3-5 year cycle for our size tank and our size household. The pump-out guy suggested 4 years.

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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242500 greenorelse
Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:36 am

Vinegar's a good bleach.
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242512 oldfella
Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:14 pm

Every two years my neighbor empties my Septic tank, in late October and sprays the contents over his fields, which I am pleased to say are in the middle nowhere, and he always thanks us for our efforts, which he says bring forth great results. :lol: :lol:
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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242628 jamesb
Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:34 pm

if its looked after, you should never need to get it pumped, been here 6 yrs and previous house 7 yrs and never needed to get it pumped, as long as you look after it. a certain amount of paper is ok, bacteria will digest cellulose as long as not excessive. if you are having to get it pumped out every few years its either very very small or its not been looked after

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Re: Septic tanks in the UK

Post: #242741 oldfella
Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:50 pm

As he has been doing it for many years, long before I bought the place, I see no reason to stop him, and it would seem that this the normal procedure, here in my neck of the woods. :dontknow:
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