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Septic Tank: how often to clean?



 
 
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  #1  
Old 03-12-2007, 04:43 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 19
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

Forgive me asking this "odious" question in this group, but I know that
a lot of keen gardeners live on isolated properties which are not
connected to the usual sewage system.

We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Eddy.

Ads
  #2  
Old 03-12-2007, 05:19 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,995
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

On 3/12/07 15:43, in article , "Eddy
Bentley" wrote:

Forgive me asking this "odious" question in this group, but I know that
a lot of keen gardeners live on isolated properties which are not
connected to the usual sewage system.

We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?

Any ideas?


I think it all depends on the size of the chamber, to be honest. I had one
at my old house that had to be emptied once a year and it was used by my
house which varied in occupancy from 1 to 4 at varying times and the house
next door which had 4 occupants. Some of the answer also depends on
location. One of my children owns a house on a highish water table and if
that septic tank isn't emptied annually, it gets water in it and then fills
up and.....you can imagine the rest. That house has between 1 and 2
occupants so its septic not exactly over-used! Then there's the question of
whether the occupants use baths (lots of water daily) or showers (much less
water daily). IOW, I'd go for the annual clean out option on the grounds of
peace of mind and probably cheaper in the possibly disastrous long-run.

--
Sacha
http://www.hillhousenursery.co.uk
South Devon
(remove weeds from address)
'We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our
children.'


  #3  
Old 03-12-2007, 06:27 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,407
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

Eddy please email me at mikeATrneba.org.uk changing AT for @ and noting 'r'
and 'n' which looks like 'm'

I regret that septic tanks are rather like cars, wallpaper, fashions,
colours etc etc etc.All are different.

I had Septic Tank which certainly DID NOT conform to the posts you have had
so far and my neighbour had one different again to mine.

You need to describe just what sort of tank you have. We cleared ours out
about every 3/4 years, our neighbour, because of the construction and system
of his tank NEVER had it emptied in the 20 years I knew of him.

Kind regards

Mike

--
www.rnshipmates.co.uk for ALL Royal Navy Association matters
www.rneba.org.uk. The Royal Naval Electrical Branch Association.
'THE' Association to find your ex-Greenie mess mates.
www.iowtours.com for all ex-Service Reunions. More being added regularly
"Navy Days" Portsmouth 25th - 27th July 2008. RN Shipmates will be there.





"Eddy Bentley" wrote in message
...
Forgive me asking this "odious" question in this group, but I know that
a lot of keen gardeners live on isolated properties which are not
connected to the usual sewage system.

We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Eddy.



  #4  
Old 03-12-2007, 06:44 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,441
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?


"Malcolm" wrote in message
...




I've lived with septic tanks (if you get my meaning!) for the last 35
years. At our last house, we had it emptied about every three years, which
seemed to be adequate until the day it started overflowing following a
torrential downpour, which just happened to coincide with higher than
normal use of baths, etc. The clear-up was not pleasant and involved some
expensive alterations. I've gone for annual emptying ever since, which has
been well worth the cost, in my view. I now have a standing order with the
local council and don't even have to remember to ask for it to be emptied.

A daughter lives on a Welsh mountain with a septic tank, they've been there
for at least twelve years and have never had the tank emptied. I thought the
system developed bacteria which dealt with solids and they drained away
harmlessly.

Hers is an organic farm and she is scrupulous about not allowing anything
which would be hostile to the bacteria down the drain. She uses special
dishwasher tablets, laundry and other preparations. There are two adults and
a small child so baths are frequent and laundry is too - she only uses
washable nappies.

When we go we live in our tiny caravan and have to use similar
bacteria-friendly products if we empty into the tank - which we do. When I
use conventional washing up liquid for dishes the waste is poured into a
ditch.

I daren't do anything else!

Mary


  #5  
Old 03-12-2007, 07:01 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,407
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?





"Mary Fisher" wrote in message
t...

"Malcolm" wrote in message
...




I've lived with septic tanks (if you get my meaning!) for the last 35
years. At our last house, we had it emptied about every three years,
which seemed to be adequate until the day it started overflowing
following a torrential downpour, which just happened to coincide with
higher than normal use of baths, etc. The clear-up was not pleasant and
involved some expensive alterations. I've gone for annual emptying ever
since, which has been well worth the cost, in my view. I now have a
standing order with the local council and don't even have to remember to
ask for it to be emptied.

A daughter lives on a Welsh mountain with a septic tank, they've been
there for at least twelve years and have never had the tank emptied. I
thought the system developed bacteria which dealt with solids and they
drained away harmlessly.

Hers is an organic farm and she is scrupulous about not allowing anything
which would be hostile to the bacteria down the drain. She uses special
dishwasher tablets, laundry and other preparations. There are two adults
and a small child so baths are frequent and laundry is too - she only uses
washable nappies.

When we go we live in our tiny caravan and have to use similar
bacteria-friendly products if we empty into the tank - which we do. When I
use conventional washing up liquid for dishes the waste is poured into a
ditch.

I daren't do anything else!

Mary


Thank you so much Mary :-))

I regret that there are certain people on this newsgroup who take great
delight in trying to ridicule what I say. You have shown that the more mouth
they have, the bigger foot they can put in it :-))

Kindest possible regards

Mike

--
www.rnshipmates.co.uk for ALL Royal Navy Association matters
www.rneba.org.uk. The Royal Naval Electrical Branch Association.
'THE' Association to find your ex-Greenie mess mates.
www.iowtours.com for all ex-Service Reunions. More being added regularly
"Navy Days" Portsmouth 25th - 27th July 2008. RN Shipmates will be there.





  #6  
Old 03-12-2007, 08:07 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 424
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

'Mike' wrote:
Eddy please email me at mikeATrneba.org.uk changing AT for @ and noting 'r'
and 'n' which looks like 'm'

I regret that septic tanks are rather like cars, wallpaper, fashions,
colours etc etc etc.All are different.

I had Septic Tank which certainly DID NOT conform to the posts you have had
so far and my neighbour had one different again to mine.

You need to describe just what sort of tank you have. We cleared ours out
about every 3/4 years, our neighbour, because of the construction and system
of his tank NEVER had it emptied in the 20 years I knew of him.

Kind regards

Mike

How big is the average septic tank? Not that big I think. It will
become "full" quite quickly, however the surplus will drain off with no
harm, assuming it is well designed. Why should it need to be emptied,
if when full I think you would have to do it every few weeks?
  #7  
Old 03-12-2007, 09:40 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 503
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?


"Eddy Bentley" wrote in message
...
Forgive me asking this "odious" question in this group, but I know that
a lot of keen gardeners live on isolated properties which are not
connected to the usual sewage system.

We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Eddy.


When you say "septic tank" what exactly are you referring to. If it is one
of the modern multi chamber "Clargester" tanks they must be emptied
regularly to avoid damage. If the solid waste is allowed to build up, when
it is the emptied the upper chambers wont take the weight once the lower
chamber is empty and it is highly likely to collapse. I know this because a
near neighbour had just that happen. I had the same system and had it
emptied every year with never a problem.

If however you have an old type brick built multi tank, (normally these
will have more than one standard manhole cover whilst the modern type have
just one often oval). Then if well built these will go several years without
emptying. I know this because my next door neighbour and my mother both had
this type and next door didn't have his emptied for 12 years with two people
using it. It does depend on what you flush down it though. Using lots of
modern detergents and bleach kills the bacteria that breaks down the crap.

But hey. 120quid a year is nothing compared to what I now have to pay in
water rates now I live in a town with sewers. Give me the septic tank
anytime.

Mike


  #8  
Old 03-12-2007, 11:31 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 39
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

On Mon, 3 Dec 2007 18:01:22 -0000, "'Mike'" wrote:

Thank you so much Mary :-))

I regret that there are certain people on this newsgroup who take great
delight in trying to ridicule what I say. You have shown that the more mouth
they have, the bigger foot they can put in it :-))


Most of what you say is eminently suitable for the septic tank.
  #9  
Old 03-12-2007, 11:47 PM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,182
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

In article ,
says...

"Malcolm" wrote in message
...




I've lived with septic tanks (if you get my meaning!) for the last 35
years. At our last house, we had it emptied about every three years, which
seemed to be adequate until the day it started overflowing following a
torrential downpour, which just happened to coincide with higher than
normal use of baths, etc. The clear-up was not pleasant and involved some
expensive alterations. I've gone for annual emptying ever since, which has
been well worth the cost, in my view. I now have a standing order with the
local council and don't even have to remember to ask for it to be emptied.

A daughter lives on a Welsh mountain with a septic tank, they've been there
for at least twelve years and have never had the tank emptied. I thought the
system developed bacteria which dealt with solids and they drained away
harmlessly.

Hers is an organic farm and she is scrupulous about not allowing anything
which would be hostile to the bacteria down the drain. She uses special
dishwasher tablets, laundry and other preparations. There are two adults and
a small child so baths are frequent and laundry is too - she only uses
washable nappies.

When we go we live in our tiny caravan and have to use similar
bacteria-friendly products if we empty into the tank - which we do. When I
use conventional washing up liquid for dishes the waste is poured into a
ditch.

I daren't do anything else!

Mary



Its certainly the case that a good tank is better than mains drainage and
won't cost you as much!
Modern toilet cleaners & biological washing powders will cause tanks to
not work as well and to need emptying more often. Synthetic cloth fibres
also build up but more slowly.
Our tank has been emptied once in the last 150 years! but was absolutley
solid and took a lot of effort to get it done (no smell at all)
--
Charlie Pridham, Gardening in Cornwall
www.roselandhouse.co.uk
Holders of national collections of Clematis viticella cultivars and
Lapageria rosea
  #10  
Old 04-12-2007, 12:05 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,995
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

On 3/12/07 16:48, in article , "Malcolm"
wrote:


In article , Sacha
writes
On 3/12/07 15:43, in article , "Eddy
Bentley" wrote:

Forgive me asking this "odious" question in this group, but I know that
a lot of keen gardeners live on isolated properties which are not
connected to the usual sewage system.

We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?

Any ideas?


I think it all depends on the size of the chamber, to be honest. I had one
at my old house that had to be emptied once a year and it was used by my
house which varied in occupancy from 1 to 4 at varying times and the house
next door which had 4 occupants. Some of the answer also depends on
location. One of my children owns a house on a highish water table and if
that septic tank isn't emptied annually, it gets water in it and then fills
up and.....you can imagine the rest. That house has between 1 and 2
occupants so its septic not exactly over-used! Then there's the question of
whether the occupants use baths (lots of water daily) or showers (much less
water daily). IOW, I'd go for the annual clean out option on the grounds of
peace of mind and probably cheaper in the possibly disastrous long-run.


I wholeheartedly agree with you, Sacha.

I've lived with septic tanks (if you get my meaning!) for the last 35
years. At our last house, we had it emptied about every three years,
which seemed to be adequate until the day it started overflowing
following a torrential downpour, which just happened to coincide with
higher than normal use of baths, etc. The clear-up was not pleasant and
involved some expensive alterations. I've gone for annual emptying ever
since, which has been well worth the cost, in my view. I now have a
standing order with the local council and don't even have to remember to
ask for it to be emptied.


Yes, I had the standing order thingy and as long as they have access you
don't need to be there. All you know about it is the bill shoved through
the letter box! I've lived in more houses with septic tanks than on main
drains so IME the least expensive option is the annual service.

--
Sacha
http://www.hillhousenursery.co.uk
South Devon
(remove weeds from address)
'We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our
children.'


  #11  
Old 04-12-2007, 12:12 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,995
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

On 3/12/07 17:44, in article ,
"Mary Fisher" wrote:


"Malcolm" wrote in message
...




I've lived with septic tanks (if you get my meaning!) for the last 35
years. At our last house, we had it emptied about every three years, which
seemed to be adequate until the day it started overflowing following a
torrential downpour, which just happened to coincide with higher than
normal use of baths, etc. The clear-up was not pleasant and involved some
expensive alterations. I've gone for annual emptying ever since, which has
been well worth the cost, in my view. I now have a standing order with the
local council and don't even have to remember to ask for it to be emptied.

A daughter lives on a Welsh mountain with a septic tank, they've been there
for at least twelve years and have never had the tank emptied. I thought the
system developed bacteria which dealt with solids and they drained away
harmlessly.

Hers is an organic farm and she is scrupulous about not allowing anything
which would be hostile to the bacteria down the drain. She uses special
dishwasher tablets, laundry and other preparations. There are two adults and
a small child so baths are frequent and laundry is too - she only uses
washable nappies.


No, no no and no. If the previous owners of the OP's house have had their
tank emptied every year and paid for it, it's for a reason. Maybe they
don't live on top of a mountain with excellent drainage, no input from the
water table etc. If by 'special' products you mean Ecover, we use those
here, too. We have two septic tanks and soakaways and on the whole, try to
leave them to get on with it which mostly they do. But not all are the same
and sometimes ours have to be emptied, too.

When we go we live in our tiny caravan and have to use similar
bacteria-friendly products if we empty into the tank - which we do. When I
use conventional washing up liquid for dishes the waste is poured into a
ditch.

I daren't do anything else!

Mary


The OP is talking about a permanent residence though, not a holiday.
I repeat, the previous owners did what they did for a reason. If he wants
to save 10 a month and risk an overflow of sewage he could try leaving it
for two years, for example, and see what happens after heavy rainfall or a
couple of summer's worth of guests etc. Again, not everyone lives on top of
well draining land with few neighbours. I'm sorry, Mary, but clearly not
emptying his septic tank for 12 years would be disastrous for this poster if
the previous owners have found it necessary to do it every year.

--
Sacha
http://www.hillhousenursery.co.uk
South Devon
(remove weeds from address)
'We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our
children.'


  #12  
Old 04-12-2007, 12:14 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,995
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

On 3/12/07 20:40, in article
, "Muddymike"
wrote:


"Eddy Bentley" wrote in message
...
Forgive me asking this "odious" question in this group, but I know that
a lot of keen gardeners live on isolated properties which are not
connected to the usual sewage system.

We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Eddy.


When you say "septic tank" what exactly are you referring to. If it is one
of the modern multi chamber "Clargester" tanks they must be emptied
regularly to avoid damage. If the solid waste is allowed to build up, when
it is the emptied the upper chambers wont take the weight once the lower
chamber is empty and it is highly likely to collapse. I know this because a
near neighbour had just that happen. I had the same system and had it
emptied every year with never a problem.

If however you have an old type brick built multi tank, (normally these
will have more than one standard manhole cover whilst the modern type have
just one often oval). Then if well built these will go several years without
emptying. I know this because my next door neighbour and my mother both had
this type and next door didn't have his emptied for 12 years with two people
using it. It does depend on what you flush down it though. Using lots of
modern detergents and bleach kills the bacteria that breaks down the crap.

But hey. 120quid a year is nothing compared to what I now have to pay in
water rates now I live in a town with sewers. Give me the septic tank
anytime.

Mike



Huh. We have the septic tank AND the water rates. Well, I hope they'll
drop now we've put in a borehole for the nursery! ;-)
--
Sacha
http://www.hillhousenursery.co.uk
South Devon
(remove weeds from address)
'We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our
children.'


  #13  
Old 04-12-2007, 01:16 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 251
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?


"Sacha" wrote in message
. uk...


Huh. We have the septic tank AND the water rates. Well, I hope they'll
drop now we've put in a borehole for the nursery! ;-)




Oh - please be careful with location of your facilities !
We have a sceptical tank but prefer to rely on the water from above to
fulfil our plant water needs.
Our glasshouse roof collects more water than we could ever use for the
nursery.
Regards
Pete
Nanneys Bridge Nursery
www.thecanalshop.com


  #14  
Old 04-12-2007, 03:19 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,358
Default Septic Tank: how often to clean?

"Eddy Bentley" wrote in message
We have a reasonably-sized septic tank embedded in the front garden and
we understand that the previous owner had it cleaned every year, at a
cost of about 120. There has been a suggestion that this annual
cleaning is a bit excessive. On the other hand, I have read that if the
solids mount up and leave the tank and move into the soakaway area then
the soakaway area becomes clogged and you then have to build a new
septic tank at another (clean) spot - which is a real bother and a
considerable expense. So, clearly, regular cleaning is worthwhile.

But how often is regular for a two-person household?


That price for emptying sound very high (but then I'm not in the UK).

Emptying depends on a few things. If it is the older style tank without the
new fangled electrical connections for pumping onto gardens etc, and if the
installation has been done in more recent years by someone who is in any way
competent and the tank is of a good capacity, it 'should' be able to go a
lot longer than being emptied ever year.

We are 2 people in a 2 septic tank household (one septic of which gets
little use - just the visitor's bathing and flushing) and the last time we
got ours emptied (after being in this house and not emptying either for 10
years) the pumper outerer said to have them done at 5 year intervals. That
would now be more than 5 years ago and we can probaly go at least another 5
years before doing anything. Our tanks would probably be about 2,000 gallon
capacity if I compare then to water tank size.


 




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