1. Understanding How Septic Tanks Work

Septic tanks are designed to collect wastewater from various sources in your property, such as toilets, sinks, baths, showers, dishwashers, and washing machines. This wastewater flows through a network of drainage pipes and eventually reaches the tank, passing through inspection chambers or manholes along the way.

There are various types of septic tanks available, but the two most common options are brick-constructed and Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) tanks.

2. Brick-Constructed Tanks

Brick-constructed septic tanks have two chambers, each with a specific role in wastewater treatment. When wastewater enters the first chamber, it stays there until it reaches a certain level, at which point it moves into the second chamber.

Inside these brick tanks, you’ll find dip pipes or T-pipes, which help maintain the tank’s structural integrity by preventing the seepage of solid materials into the drainage field. Instead of treating wastewater, septic tanks facilitate a unique process of natural separation, resulting in three distinct layers:

  • The Upper Layer: This layer contains less dense materials, including fats, oils, and undissolved solids, often referred to as the “crust.”
  • The Middle Layer: It primarily consists of solids-free wastewater, allowing it to exit the septic tank and enter the soakaway system.
  • The Lower Layer (Sludge): Over time, this layer accumulates denser waste. Periodic septic tank emptying is required to remove both the sludge and the upper crust.

The frequency of this separation process depends on the number of chambers in your tank’s design. The treated liquid exits the tank and enters the soakaway system for the final stages of percolation.

3. How Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) Septic Tanks Work

GRP septic tanks function similarly to brick-built tanks, as they don’t treat wastewater but facilitate its natural separation into distinct layers. Unlike brick tanks that use dip pipes or T-pipes to prevent solid waste escape, GRP tanks employ a component called a baffle to keep solids inside, preventing them from entering the environment or drainage field.

4. The Role of a Soakaway or Drainage Field

To work effectively, septic tanks need a connection to a drainage field or a soakaway system. A drainage field consists of interconnected pipes extending from the tank. It’s important to note that current regulations require septic tanks to release treated effluent into a drainage field, rather than using other soakaway configurations.

The drainage field’s main purpose is to create a pathway for the treated effluent to slowly seep through the soil surrounding the pipe network. These pipes have perforations or slots to allow gradual seepage. As the effluent moves through the soil, it undergoes a natural cleansing process and can be responsibly distributed into the subsoil, promoting eco-friendly and compliant waste management practices.

For further details on regulations, you can refer to: https://shorturl.at/qDOP9.

5. Maintaining Your Tank’s Health

Your septic tank and soakaway system can last for many years with proper care. Here are some essential tips:

a. Be Thoughtful About Disposal:

Only let waste from toilets, showers, sinks, and kitchen appliances enter your septic tank. Avoid flushing items like sanitary products, disposable nappies, and face wipes down the toilet to prevent potential issues.

b. Be Mindful at the Sink:

Avoid pouring fats or cooking oil down the sink, as this can clog the soil around your soakaway system. Be cautious with anti-bacterial products as they can harm the beneficial bacteria in your septic tank. Consider using tank-friendly cleaning products like Ecover to maintain the bacterial balance.

c. Schedule Regular Maintenance:

Regular tank emptying by a professional tanker service is crucial. The frequency of emptying can vary, but generally, it’s recommended annually. Consult a local tanker company for personalised advice.

d. Keep an Eye on Your Tank’s Health:

Pay attention to your system’s well-being. The professionals who empty your tank can also inspect it for issues. Watch out for signs like murky water near the tank or slow-flushing toilets. Rapid filling of the tank may indicate a need for more frequent emptying.

If you notice any irregularities, take prompt action to avoid worsening problems. For professional assistance with your septic tank or soakaway issues, contact our team at 07902 688279.