Half of septic tanks failed inspections in Ireland

Regulatory | By Sam Warren

A recent news report highlighted that in Ireland in 2016, half of septic tanks failed inspections that were carried out on them. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has warned that this poses serious health risks not only to the families living in the properties, but also to the environment. This is because many property owners with a septic tank also draw their drinking water from a private well. The investigations found that E-Coli, which can cause serious illness, was present in almost a third of drinking wells inspected.

So, what were the reasons why the septic tanks failed inspections, and what can you as a property owner do to protect yourself and your family from any harm? The report found that there were three main reasons for the failed inspections:

  1. Around a third of tanks posed a threat to human health or the environment, which includes noise, odour, effects on water, soil, plants or animals
  2. A further third failed due to operation or maintenance issues
  3. The remaining tanks failed because of a lack of de-sludging.

There are many reasons why a septic tank can fail, and the biggest challenge of course is that it happens underground and out of sight. It can often be difficult to know that a problem is happening, even months later, because problems underground can take time to show themselves above ground. Our advice for ensuring that your septic tank or other off mains drainage system such as a cesspit or sewage treatment plant is to be proactive:

  1. Make sure that your tank is emptied regularly - if it is a septic tank or sewage treatment plant, this will probably be annually. If it is a cesspit it will need to be emptied a lot more regularly - typically between 6 and 10 times a year. You can visit our page on septic tank emptying, which lists the emptying partners we work with.
  2. Make sure that the company you choose to empty your tank is a registered waste carrier - this ensures that any waste taken from your property is legally and safely disposed of. The company you choose should be able to demonstrate this to you.
  3. Proactively undertake septic tank inspections - don't just wait until there is a problem. Being proactive can be beneficial not just for the environment but also for your bank balance. This is because septic tank problems often get worse over time, meaning that putting them right becomes more expensive. Occasionally you can nip a problem in the bud if you spot it early enough. Here at UKDP, we have a team of field engineers, equipped with CCTV cameras to thoroughly investigate the condition of your septic tank. So next time you are due to get your tank emptied, why not arrange a Septic Tank Health Check with us? The tank being emptied provides a great opportunity to check things out and make sure things are as they should be. If we identify any problems, don't worry, we'll let you know what needs to be done to put them right. Call our team today on 0800 028 9903 or 01628 788600, or send us a message here.
  4. If you think there might be a problem, don't try to ignore it! Your toilets might be taking longer to flush than usual, or you might have noticed some boggy patches in your garden above where your soakaway system is. Let's face it, no one really wants to think about there being problems with their drainage system - after all, where do you even start trying to work out what to do about it? And isn't it going to cost a fortune to fix? Not necessarily. Get any problems checked out as soon as possible, it might be easier (and cheaper!) to fix in the early stages. Also, if your tank has been damaged, you may be covered by your buildings insurance policy. UKDP are the only specialists in managing septic tank claims for off mains drainage systems such as septic tanks, and we can manage everything for you from start to finish. Find out more about it in our illustrated guide here, or call one of our friendly team on 0800 028 9903 or 01628 788600 to find out more.

Don't let out of sight be out of mind. It's really important to keep on top of what's happening with your septic tank, and a bit of proactivity is good both for the environment and your bank balance.

0800 028 9903