By Drain Doctor on 18/04/2016

If you have purchased a property which has a septic tank foul water system there are many things that you can do to help prolong its life and ensure it functions properly.

The amount of water used in the home has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. If your septic tank pre-dates the current regulations it is probably too small and struggling to cope with current flow rates.

There are things you can do to reduce this problem:-
 - Repair leaking and dripping taps and toilets. Dual Flush toilets often leak at the valve after a period of time and need replacing.
 - Change to a low water consumption washing machine and reduce water levels for small laundry loads. Make sure you load your machine and dishwashers effectively.
 - Look at installing low-flow showers to help lower water consumption.
 - Fit dual flush toilets or use one of the widely available water flow widget to reduce the amount of water needed to flush to the absolute minimum.

Train your trees
 - Plant trees that take are suitable. Check the root growth expected from the species you want to plant and discourage root damage by planning trees at least 30 metres away from the soakaway.
 - Trees with very aggressive roots, such as willows and poplars, should be even farther away from the system.

Don't use your toilet and sink as a rubbish bin
 - Never flush things such as cat litter, disposable nappies, paper towels, facial tissues, coffee grounds, or cigarette ends down the toilet. They'll clog your septic tank in less time than you might imagine.
 - Don't install a waste disposal unit as these can double the amount of solids going into the septic tank.

Be sensible with cleaning and disinfection products
 - Overuse of anti-bacterial cleaners and hand wash, disinfectants and heavy cleaners will kill the beneficial bacteria in the septic tank which digest your solids.
 - Grease clogs the septic tank soakaway effectively 'waterproofing' it and making it impossible for soil to absorb liquids; so try not to put oils and greases down the drains.
 - Liquids such as white spirit, varnish, paint thinners, motor oils, petrol and other similar chemicals will ruin your septic system and are not easily broken down by soil bacteria. They will pollute groundwater.

Protect your soakaway
 - Do not drive over the soakaway, build a structure on top of it, or cover it with concrete or Tarmac. Gravel is fine, but only for foot traffic.
 - Sow grass over the soakaway area, if possible, as grass takes up a lot of water.

Maintain your septic system
 - Solids must be pumped from the septic tank on an annual basis. Ignore the ignorant who tell you that 'septic tanks never need emptying! They only store 12 months’ worth of sludge and extending the yearly emptying interval will ruin your soakaway!

Be it an old fashioned cesspit, septic tank or a modern private effluent treatment plant just call Drain Doctor who are experts in all these situations. We understand all types of private sewage systems and soakaways. We can install, maintain and help you to understand your system.