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Lockdown Boredom Buster #105 - Get to know your septic tank!

Sam Warren's Photo
Written by Sam Warren

Once you’ve worked through all the box sets on Netflix, eaten all of the snacks and read all the books you bought years ago then promptly forgot about, it might be worth thinking about getting some `life admin’ in order.

Ok, so it might not be everyone’s first thought, but if you own a property with an off mains drainage system (like a septic tank, for example), now could be a great opportunity to get to know it a little better. Just think how you will be able to impress your friends with your newfound drainage knowledge once dinner parties are a `thing’ again!

With everyone cooped up at home, you’ll doubtless be putting more into your drainage system (if you know what we mean), so there is even more reason to make sure that it’s working as it should be, and that any maintenance the system might need is up to date. After all, a well-maintained drainage system is likely to last longer and save you money in the long run – so sit tight and we’ll help you and your drainage system get better acquainted. You can thank us later.

So, where to start?

Firstly, why not get more acquainted with what you’ve got going on under the ground – do you know what type of system you have? A septic tank, a sewage treatment plant or even a cesspit? Many people think they have a septic tank, when they have something entirely different. But how can you tell the difference? If you have a sewage treatment plant, most tanks will have something raised above ground – either above the manhole cover or attached to a wall nearby, or they will have a dome shaped tank cover. If you don’t have this, you’ve likely got a septic tank, or in fewer cases a cesspit. Septic tanks are certainly the most common type of off mains tank, and generally you’ll know if you have a cesspit as they require much more frequent emptying (generally 6- 8 times a year, as compared to once a year for a septic tank or sewage treatment plant).

Why does it matter? Good question. Generally speaking, if things are functioning as they should be, it doesn’t. But you’ll need to be aware (if you’re not already) of legislation introduced in 2015 which means that septic tanks must discharge only to a drainage field – and certainly not straight to a watercourse or ditch. Apologies, we got you in under the pretence of making friends with your septic tank then threw `legislation’ at you. But it’s very important, so as the responsible off mains drainage property owner that you are, you need to know what it’s all about. You can find our guide to it all here – it’s lucky you now have time on your hands, right?

Next, it’s time to get some drainage admin in order – I know, suddenly cleaning the kitchen for the tenth time seems more appealing, but this can save you money and hassle so it’s really worth persevering. Is your tank emptying and servicing up to date? The key to getting the longest life out of your drainage system is to look after it as best you can. It doesn’t mean bringing it in out of the cold in the winter, but it does mean periodic emptying and, if you have a sewage treatment plant, it’ll also need regular servicing. Make sure you keep the receipts for any empties or servicing in a safe place as that will make it easier to demonstrate that you have looked after the system in future, for example if you sell the property.

If your system hasn’t been emptied in the last year, then get it booked in while you’ve got the time. You can check out our list of tank emptying partners who might be able to help here, if there’s one near you then give them a call to get it arranged.

Last but not least, take some time to familiarise yourself with what you should and shouldn’t flush into the system. Of course, there are some fairly obvious things that we know are ok to flush down the loo, but there’s a whole load of stuff that isn’t, and you’d be surprised what some people do. Also, don’t forget that your drainage system will also take the wastewater from your property’s sinks, so even the type of cleaning products you use can have an effect. You can read our article here to find out more.

Got a problem?

No, we don’t mean problems such as running out of the aforementioned snacks. Although we realise that a lack of snacks clearly is a problem, that’s a matter for a different blog article.

So, back to the subject of septic tanks, you may notice things that are not quite right with your drainage system when you’re spending more time at home. This could be anything from your toilets not flushing properly, to boggy patches appearing in your garden, or your tank suddenly backing up. Now, it might be something that can be sorted out with a routine empty, in which case your lovely local tank emptying firm can assist. But if it’s not, and there is any damage to your system, our friendly team can help. Find out more here or contact us for a chat. We do love a good septic tank chat.

Keen to continue your voyage of septic tank discovery?

Of course you are! The good news is that we have a Guides section including how to identify your off mains drainage system, complete with a video of how a septic tank works – although you’ll be relieved to hear that it’s an animation, so you can continue to eat your lunch while you watch it.

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Sam Warren's Photo
Written by Sam Warren

Sam's career prior to UKDP was spent in the marketing and service industries, so she is focused on making sure we look after our customers – and getting the UKDP message out there! Sam has overall responsibility for business operations and for delivering the best customer service we can.

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