Common Problems with Septic Tanks
Just because septic tank systems are usually out of sight does not mean that they can be forgotten about. It is vital that certain maintenance operations are carried out.
Firstly, ensure that you have your tank emptied on a regular basis. When this is carried out by Bates Environmental Ltd, our operative will look for any warning signs that your system is not functioning correctly or efficiently. He'll be able to spot things such as water running back into the system from the outlet or the level of the tank being low due to a leak.
The scum and sediment in the holding chambers could build up, reducing the ability of the natural bacteria to cope. This can cause clogging to the inlet pipe or 'H' pipe to the second chamber.
Damage to the baffle walls in the septic tank
Baffle walls may be of single brick construction and are submerged beneath water on both sides. This can mean they have weak or deteriorating mortar and can be damaged during the septic tank emptying process.
Leaking or damaged structure
Septic tanks can be damaged by roots from nearby trees and large shrubs, ground subsidence or from movement of vehicles above / nearby them, causing leaks.
This could affect or pollute local water courses, brooks and rivers as well as the nearby ground water.
If the septic tank system is partially or fully above ground level, or are built into steep inclines and banks, the structure is open to harsh weather conditions including frost which can affect external brickwork. This may involve repair or re-rendering.
Blocked inlet and outlet pipes on the septic tank
Inlet pipes are prone to a build up of grease and fat, which can cause clogging. A poorly designed or damaged system may not have a 'dip' pipe on the inlet to the tank, allowing the scum that forms in the first chamber to cover the inlet and cause a blockage.
The outlet pipe from a tank can become blocked due to root ingress or, in poorly maintained systems, large amounts of solid matter passing through that builds up.
Storm water entering the septic tank
Storm water from roofs and paved / tarmaced / concreted areas should not pass through a septic tank system and should always be handled separately. The workings of the bacteria and enzymes in the tank will be severely impaired. Debris and sediment will be introduced, which may easily find its way through to the outfall pipework, soak-away or filter tank.
Chemicals or detergents affecting bacteria and enzymes in a septic tank
Detergents, cleaners and other products poured into toilets and sinks will affect the way that the bacteria and enzymes operate within the septic tank. You may need to consider an additive to maintain the effectiveness of the bacterial process.
The size of the septic tank isn't coping with what's thrown at it!
A tank installed for a small property, perhaps inhabited by just a couple of people is not going to cope when a two-bedroom extension is added and a family moves in along with a modern lifestyle of washing machines, dishwashers, showers and detergents. Time to upgrade!
Blocked filter media in filter tank
Poor maintenance and general misuse of a system usually means that grease, fat, fibre and sediment passes through the system and clogs any filter system installed, this of course prevents water from reaching the outlet and the system surcharges and floods.
Saturated soak-away on outlet of septic tank
As with the filter systems poorly maintained tanks usually affect the soak-away with grease, fat, fibres and sediment that clogs the sub-soil and prevents water from soaking properly into the ground.