/ Septic tanks

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Mattyk - on 02 Apr 2013
Has anybody got experience of installing septic tanks?

We've seen an old house we are thinking of putting an offer in on but i understand the drianage is a bit old.. it currently drains (and i mean sewage) into what i presume is some sort of filter bed/ soakaway in an adjacent farmers field. Now to me this sound very illegal and not sustainable.. Maybe 50 years ago when granny lived in the cottage and went to the loo once a day and didn't have a washing machine it was ok but not sure now. Is this totally illegal??

I thought I could factor in the cost of septic tank but also not sure how much this would be, how much it will wreck the garden and how much space is needed to 'soakaway' as the garden isn't massive. theres probably about

4- 5m out of the back and more at the side. Its grade II listed.
Thoughts? Oh might UKC

Matt
unclesamsauntibess - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk: They are big (deep hole needed) and pricey to buy and install. 12-15 foot down and the same across. F*cks the graden to start with but just a flat plastic cover when you're done. Budget 3k easily.
a lakeland climber on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk:

We had ours (shared between three properties) replace a couple of years ago. As it was in the yard and there was vehicular access over it, it needed a concrete cap to prevent subsidence/cracking. Total cost - about 5.5K, again shared between the three properties.

Note that sceptic tanks also need a soakaway but it won't be full scale one as you describe.

You'll need to check with the council as you can't install a sceptic tank within a certain distance of a watercourse.

ALC
Dave Williams - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk:

The existing system at the house will presumably be a brick-built, concrete-lined septic tank from which the effluent drains into a soakaway. A lot of older rural properties that don't have access to mains sewerage systems (like mine) will have such a system and, no, they're not illegal.

You're right to be concerned about modern appliances, showers etc draining into a soakaway with inadequate volume and these are questions to put to the vendors. If the soakaway needs replacing then, officially, you'll need building regulations approval. You will also need a permit to discharge from the Environment Agency. Registration of the system is already compulsory and the vendors will presumably have done this already. There may be a charge for discharge; it all depends on the nearness of the soakaway to groundwater sources. If very close, you won't be allowed to discharge anyway.

If you install a new septic tank, it'll still need a soakaway and if you have to replace or install a new soakaway, there are 3 mandatory tests that have to be passed: Groundwater Source Protection Zone search at the E.A., Trial Site Assessment Hole Test and finally Percolation Tests. Most replacement soakaways can't now be done because of these regulations, many fail the second test which relates to the depth of sub-surface bedrock. http://www.wte-ltd.co.uk/soakaways.html

Have you thought of installing an electric sewage treatment plant instead? It'd be cheaper and a lot less hassle than installing a new septic tank and a new soakaway.

HTH

Dave

Nevis_Ben on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk:

Can't help you with the septic tank but I don't think the current system is illegal by what you describe. The ultimate 'green' method of treating sewerage is by reed bed filtration systems. A mate of mine's wife is a bit of an expert (holds a Ph.D related to this area of study) in reedbeds and can design bespoke systems for peoples needs. I could give him a shout and get some more info on this type of system if you were interested?

Cheers.
Ferret on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk: Septic tanks do drain... are you certain that what you are looking at is not the perfectly legitimate soakaway connected to a tank?

The normal set up is a tank that captures and (possibly) part treats the solids via microbial action (in general treatement is limited as soaps bleaches etc tend to kill off the microbes these days). Holding capacity a few thousand litres. Grey water fluid then drains out of that through pipework into a soakaway which may or may not be on your property (usually consents/details etc are in the title deeds). No domestic tank will hold enough to not have drainage into a soakaway. You get the tank de-slugged every year or two at your own expense (your water rates are however reduced) to remove accumulated solids and improve hodng capacity and thefore duration that material spends inside the tank before it drains out.

If thats what you have its potentially fine, consents and possibly SEPA approval should be on file and your obligation is to make sure it works and doesn't discharge 'nuisance' material (i.e. untreated solids). If water from roof drainage is also piped throuh it that may cause a nuisance by overloading it and causing solids to be washed through too quickly (old wisome was lots of water good as it dilutes things - current wisdom is minimise throughput to increase residence time)... if thats thE case disconnecting rainwater drainage and dealing with that seperately is a good idea

If what you have is effectively a pipe discharging to environment direct its definately not up to scratch but the solution wouLd probably be as already described by another response to dig a hole, insert tank, pipe out of tank underground to roughly where it is already discharging. One assumes the landowner knows and is happy with the discharge therfore there should be no issue improving the quality of what is discharged to the same place.

I'm not familiar with genuine reed bed type set ups but they are also a possibility and that may be what you have - an old version that could be brought up to scratch if required.... my understanding of these is that they are pretty much as they sound, discharg into a pond of some type with plants to treat and a slow release of cleaner water eventually.

Sellers agent should be able to get the answer to what system is in place, what consents exist etc, possibly what maintenance has been done (if your lucky!) and then its a cost/risk/benefit decision for you whether to bid and how much to factor in for potential improvements.
Mattyk - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk: Thanks everybody went up for anothe gander lifted some covers and flushed the chain. It appears the drainage goes out and then towards next doors garden.. i think there is probably a manhole there that meets there property (couldn;t see as covered in snow) and directs it towards an old building (outside toilet) at end of the garden that backs onto the fields.. i presume it soaksaway after this.. or its shared drainage as suggested above. Fingers crossed offer accepted and then get solicitors onto that one.

Cheers one and all.
Ridge - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk:

I'd also like to point out that the less the Environment Agency know about your septic tsnk, the better. Don't flag it up to them if you don't have to.
Lord of Starkness - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk:

I believe it's Cockney rhyming slang for our colonial cousins who are full of 5h1t.
highclimber - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk:
> Has anybody got experience of installing septic tanks?
>
> We've seen an old house we are thinking of putting an offer in on but i understand the drianage is a bit old.. it currently drains (and i mean sewage) into what i presume is some sort of filter bed/ soakaway in an adjacent farmers field. Now to me this sound very illegal and not sustainable.. Maybe 50 years ago when granny lived in the cottage and went to the loo once a day and didn't have a washing machine it was ok but not sure now. Is this totally illegal??

No, that IS a septic tank. there will be an initial settling tank where anaerobic bacteria break down the 'stuff' and then there's a soakaway where what is left over after the intial process is (or should be) just water. this is assuming there is a healthy colony of anaerobes.
These need to be registered with the Envrionment agency (free to do) and it would be advisable to get it checked out. your solicitor should do a check on easements for access to the tank if it's not within your boundary.


>
> I thought I could factor in the cost of septic tank but also not sure how much this would be, how much it will wreck the garden and how much space is needed to 'soakaway' as the garden isn't massive. theres probably about
>
> 4- 5m out of the back and more at the side. Its grade II listed.

The fact that it's Grade II would make me think more about putting an offer in than the drainage!
highclimber - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Ridge:
> (In reply to Mattyk)
>
> I'd also like to point out that the less the Environment Agency know about your septic tsnk, the better. Don't flag it up to them if you don't have to.

The legally HAVE to be registered now.
Uluru on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to highclimber: They do have to be registered and unfortunately ignorance is not a legitimate defence!


MattyK I would make sure that they EA know about the septic tank already.

I'll back up Dave Williams advice above. Go to the www.environment-agency.gov.uk and you can find how to do a percolation test from there. You can also find out if the proposed area for the soakaway in in a source protection zone.
Ridge - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to Ridge)
> [...]
>
> The legally HAVE to be registered now.

If, hypothetically, someone had informed me of that and I'd had a google, which I haven't, the results might suggest otherwise:

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/118753.aspx


From that it appears most domestic tanks are probably exempt:

" Whilst the government is planning a consultation on the regulation option, you don't need to register providing your:

discharge is to ground and is of 2 cubic metres per day or less via a septic tank and infiltration system (soakaway) and is outside a source protection zone 1. This is approximately equivalent to 9 people occupying a single property

discharge is to surface water and is of 5 cubic metres per day or less via a package sewage treatment plant. This is approximately equivalent to 31 people occupying a single property

sewage is only domestic (for the definition of domestic see the registration of small sewage discharges in England document in the downloads box)

sewage system is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions (if not, British Water codes of practice and technical guides) and you keep a record of all maintenance. In the case of septic tanks this includes regular emptying

discharge does not cause pollution of surface water or groundwater"
foxwood on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to Ridge)
> [...]
>
> The legally HAVE to be registered now.

Not so - see http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/118753.aspx
highclimber - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to foxwood: Apologies, i live in wales. didn't realise it was different to England :

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/132391.aspx
Mattyk - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Ridge: It shows what you forget - my rather poor quality PhD was on aquifer vulnerabaility assessment.. I should know a lot better - I haven't looked at it for so long I'd forgot all about it!

The area is showing minor aquifer (high) presumably high means high risk -its certainly no where near any major groundwater or sources as far as i know (its bradford!) we're talkig grit and coal measures..

When snow clears i'll try and track the drainage more into next door garden.


CheersUKC. your collective knowledge and experience constantly amazes me!

highclimber: is grade II really that bad if its in good repair and doesn't need modifying should i be worried - i am now.?
highclimber - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk: I didn't mean to scare you. I woouldn't worry about it too much if the house is in good nick. I was assuming you were buying a renovation where listing can be a bit of a headache but for the most part the Building control people are happy to advise you as to what you can and cannot do.
andymac - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk: Sounds to me that you would struggle to get a septic tank in your garden.think you have to be at least 5m away from a dwelling if installing.

Building Control could confirm this.was 15 m when I built my house.

You would certainly struggle to fit a soakaway within your boundaries..I`d say you had no chance.

Tank and soakaway would have to go on neighbouring land.S.omeone elses land

And there is where the problems start.

Unless the friendly farmer is prepared to allow installation and servitude.
Bio Disc (treatment plant) is an option ,but its a bit of an expense unless costs can be shared with any adjoining properties .
Uluru on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to highclimber: As of yesterday, 1st April the Environment Agency no longer exists in Wales :)
ads.ukclimbing.com
stroppygob - on 02 Apr 2013
In reply to Mattyk: Can;'t stand 'em myself, loudmouth, tasteless, boors.

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