Septic Tanks

5 Things You Need To Know About Septic Tanks

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1: Installation, Replacement Or Repairs To Septic Tanks.


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If the septic tank and soakaway was installed more than 15 years ago, then you do not need permission to replace, replace or modify your septic tank or soakaway.  

The Environment Agency and UK Building Regulations class any work to update, repair or replace an existing septic tank or soakaway as a ‘modification’.

However any work carried out by yourself or a contractor must be done responsibly, and must not pose a pollution risk to the surrounding environment or any water courses.

Regarding the installation of new septic tanks:

Building Regulations Section H 1.16 States:

Septic tanks should be sited at least 7m from any habitable parts of buildings, and preferably downslope.

Building Regulations Section H 1.17 States:

Where septic tanks are to be emptied using a tanker, the septic tank should be sited within 30m of a vehicle access provided that the invert level of the septic tank is no more than 3m below the level of the vehicle access. This distance may need to be reduced where the depth to the invert of the tank is more than 3m. There should also be a clear route for the hose such that the tank can be emptied and cleaned without hazard to the building occupants and without the contents being taken through a dwelling or place of work 

If the septic tank or soakaway was installed less than 15 years ago then any work then please ring us on 01784 780151 for free advice.

Building Regulations Section H 1.18 States:

Septic tanks should have a capacity below the level of the inlet of at least 2,700 litres (2.7m3) for up to 4 users in a domestic property that is a permanent residence. The size should be increased by 180 litres for each additional user. PLEASE NOTE: This rule does not apply to temporary dwellings such as mobile homes, stable blocks, caravans, granny annexes e.t.c

Building Regulations Section H 1.19 States: 

Factory-made septic tanks are available in glass reinforced plastics, polyethylene or steel and should meet the requirements of BS EN 12566-1. Particular care is necessary in ensuring stability of these tanks.

Building Regulations Section H 1.23 States: 

The inlet and outlet pipes of a septic tank should be provided with access for sampling and inspection. For more information on sampling chambers please CLICK HERE

If you need help or free advice then please call us on 01784 780 511.


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2. Septic Tank Notice

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By law you if you own any kind of sewage system, then you are required to display a notice in your home.  The information on the notice should give details of the nature and frequency of any maintenance you carry out on your septic tank, cesspool or wastewater treatment system.

Building Regulations Section H 1.25 States The Wording Should Be As Follows:

‘The could drainage system from this property  discharges to a septic tank and a <insert type of secondary treatment>. The tank requires monthly inspections of the outlet chamber or distribution box to observe that the effluent is free-flowing and clear. The septic tank requires emptying at least once every 12 months by a licensed contractor. The <insert type of secondary treatment> should be <insert details of maintenance of secondary treatment>. The owner is legally responsible to ensure that the system does not cause pollution, a health hazard or a nuisance.’


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 3. If Your Property Has 4 or More Bedrooms.

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If your property has 4 or more bedrooms and conforms to the following requirements:

  • If a property discharges more than 2,000 litres (2 cubic metres) of sewage effluent a day.  
  • Your property discharges into the ground though a drainage field, (also called a soakaway or infiltration system)

Then by law you must apply for a septic tank permit.

Its really easy to work out if your property produces 2000 or more litres a day.

According to British water, each person produces around 280 litres of wastewater per day.  The Environment Agency States: You must allow for 2 people per bedroom.

So if you have 4 bedrooms then you must allow for 8 people.  

8 x 280 litres = 2240 litres of wastewater produced each day.

This law applies even if you only have 1 or 2 people living in the property, as the size of the septic tank, cesspool or treatment plant needs to be based on the number of bedrooms.

If you need help applying for a permit, or want free advice then please call us on 01784 780 511.


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 4. Septic Tank Maintenance.

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Section H Of Building Regulations 1.2 States:

Septic tanks must provide suitable conditions for the settlement, storage and partial decomposition of solids.  The solid waste (sludge) also needs to be removed at regular intervals.

Most people get there septic tank emptied or desludged once or twice a year, and it typically costs around £150- £200 a time.

Many people also use septic tank soakaway worms as a way to break down and eat the sludge, saving them £1000’s in emptying and maintenance costs.  

Septic tank worms are safe, clean and organic and keep septic tanks and soakaways clean and free from blockages.

To learn more about septic tank worms please CLICK HERE

If you need free advice then please call us on 01784 780 511.


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 5. Soakaways.

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Every septic tank has a soakaway attached to it.  A soakaway allows the wastewater that is discharged from the septic tank to drain and soakaway naturally into the soil.

Over time however the septic tank soakaway can become blocked or clogged up with grease and fat.

Typical symptoms of a blocked soakaway are:

Frequent septic tank emptying.

Soggy patches of wastewater collecting in the lawn.

Bad smells.

Once the soakaway is blocked, having it pressure jetted is just a waste of time.  The pressure from the jet cannot unblock soakaway pipes because the sludge and grease have not got anywhere to go.  Jetting just compacts the fat and grease making the condition worse.

If your soakaway is blocked, then you only have two options: 

1. Replace your soakaway.

A replacement soakaway can cost anywhere from £1500 – £6000 if installed by a company.  However, many people today save money by getting their builders to install one of the many new soakaway kits that are available on the DIY market.  

For more information on soakaway kits please CLICK HERE 

2. Use soakaway worms.

Soakaway worms are a safe, clean and organic solution, and unblock soakaways and keep them unblocked.

To learn more about septic tank worms please CLICK HERE

If you need free advice then please call us on 01784 780 511.


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