Septic Tank Emptying and Cleaning: The Dos and Don’ts

In the UK, over 96% of the population is serviced by public services lines, which treat wastewater and safeguard environmental health. However, for the nearly 10 million people – or 17% of the total population of England – that live in rural areas, septic tanks represent a sustainable and durable option to live remotely or off-grid. 

But, while these tried-and-tested systems come with a wide range of benefits, they also require proper care and maintenance. Yes, septic tanks can last between 15 and 40 years – but you’ll need to follow an adequate cleaning and emptying routine. Unsure how to get started? In this guide by All Drain Services, you’ll find all you need to know to take the best care of your septic tank. Start here!

Do Work With a Specialized Local Drainage Company

Looking after your septic tank without the help of a specialised and trained professional isn’t only inefficient – but it can also be dangerous to your health! So, the first step to properly caring for your tank is to partner with a local drainage company that can help you with all of your septic tank needs – including cleaning, emptying, and regularly checking it. 

Ideally, you should work with an Authorised Person who can design a maintenance plan for your septic tank. This schedule might change according to factors like:

  • How big is the septic tank is
  • Level of usage
  • Type of septic tank

A specialised service provider can pamp out the system and drain your septic tank – professionally and safely. What’s more, a drainage company can set up recurring appointments, identify the early signs of damage, and check that your tank’s effluent filter is working properly. 

Don’t Enter a Septic Tank or Empty It by Yourself

Septic tanks are complex ecosystems that leverage the force of gravity as well as chemical reactions to separate and treat wastewater. Even if you have a wide understanding of how septic tanks work, you should never consider entering or climbing into a cesspit.

Firstly, the gas that is naturally produced by the waste treatment process might be dangerous for your health and lead to respiratory issues. Additionally, depending on the size and accessibility of your tank, you might run the risk of getting stuck. 

Instead, a professional drainage company will use adequate tools and equipment to carry out emptying and cleaning tasks in all safety. 

Pro tip – one of the best things you can do by yourself to look after your tank’s health is to learn how to recognize a full septic tank. This allows you to know when it’s time to call an expert and helps you keep up with your maintenance schedule. 

Do Keep a Record of Your Tank Location and Ensure It Is Always Accessible

Depending on your property’s characteristics, you might need to learn where your tank is located and how to access it. To streamline the emptying and cleaning process, make sure to keep track of the position of your tank, or draw out a sketch as a reference for service visits. 

What’s more, make sure that your tank is immediately accessible for pumping – or even regular inspections. If you suspect a leak or a blockage, being able to access the tank’s cover can make a difference in the damage your property will experience!

Don’t Ignore Leaks or Foul Odours

Septic tanks are incredibly versatile systems that allow homeowners to sustainably live off-grid and enjoy life away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. However, opting to connect your home to a septic tank instead of to the public sewage lines comes with certain responsibilities.

Indeed, when not properly maintained, septic tanks can lead to severe health issues, including Gastroenteritis (related to E. Coli), sinus infections, and respiratory conditions. 

Luckily, you can prevent all this by keeping up with your maintenance schedule and calling an expert as soon as you notice a leak or foul odours. 

Do Regularly Inspect and Empty Your Septic Tank

Septic tanks are designed to stand the test of time, and can efficiently support your home’s drainage needs for up to 40 years. However, as a general rule, you should consider investing in:

  • Professional septic tank inspections every 3 years
  • Professional inspections of the mechanical components of the tank every year
  • Pumping, emptying and cleaning your tank every 3-5 years

While these guidelines work for most tanks, your service provider will craft a maintenance routine better suited for your tanks’ needs. This may vary according to factors like:

  • The size of your tank
  • How many people use the tank and the size of your property
  • The level of wastewater generated by your daily activities
  • Your routine
  • Level of solid waste that requires disposal

Don’t Add Stress and Pressure on Your Tank

Septic tanks are built in highly durable materials, like plastic, metal, and cement. But this does not mean that you should carelessly add unnecessary weight or pressure to the tank. Some tips to keep your cesspit in good health include:

  • Don’t drive or park your vehicle on the tank
  • Plant trees away from the tank
  • Be mindful of the design of your drainage features
  • Don’t build structures like barns, patios, and driveways over the tank and drain field
  • Regulate the area’s moisture by watering conservatively and avoiding automatic lawn sprinklers

If you are looking to expand your home, don’t do so without also adjusting the size of your septic tank. For this project, follow the Government guidelines for septic tank requirements and sizes. 

Do Follow Septic Tank Usage Best Practices

Following septic tank usage best practices allow you to limit the risk of blockages and malfunctioning. Your cesspit drainage company will help you understand how to adjust your lifestyle to extend the lifespan of your septic tank. 

However, as a general rule, you should avoid pouring oil, grease, fat, paints, solvents, pesticides, chemicals, nappies, sanitary items, and solid waste down the drains. 

Pro tip – pouring half a spoon of baking soda down the drain once a week can help you avoid blockages and maintain the natural pH of your tank.

Don’t Forget About Your Maintenance Schedule!

Our home’s drainage system isn’t something we think about on a regular basis. However, keeping up with the system’s maintenance schedule is essential to avoid damages further down the line and extend your tank’s lifespan. 

So, consider keeping a record of all that involves your septic tank, from building permits to past maintenance and service appointments, and emergency repairs. When working with a specialised company, you can outsource this service and enjoy maintenance reminders! 

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