Septic tanks need looking after
Many homes, especially those in rural areas, are not able to connect to a town sewage system.
These properties have their own on-site disposal systems.
The most common form of onsite disposal system is a septic tank.
Wastewater from the kitchen, laundry and bathroom discharges into a septic tank buried on the property.
The heavier solids settle to the bottom of the tank, while fats float to the top. The remaining liquid flows out of the tank and discharges into a soakage area.
Modern septic systems may have pumps, pressurised disposal with multiple chambers and filters.
Speak to the manufacturer of your system to get an understanding of how your particular system works. The information given here applies mostly to older-style systems.
Your septic tank contains toxic gases that could kill you if you breathe them in. Never enter the septic tank yourself and never leave the lid open.
A poorly-maintained septic tank will become a serious health hazard, spreading disease and contaminating water sources. Septic tanks need regular maintenance, some of which you can do yourself.
Learn about your particular system and keep a maintenance record. Include drawings of the system, mapping out its exact location. Your council may be able to provide you with some details.
Newer systems often include a maintenance contract in their price. Consider buying a maintenance contract for older systems.
Tanks generally need pumping (cleaning out) every three to five years to remove sludge and sediment. The frequency depends on: What goes into the system. How many people use it. The capacity of the tanks. Whether you recycle greywater. You’ll need a professional to do the pumping. Look under Septic Tanks, Water Treatment, or Water and Wastewater Services in the Yellow Pages.
Tanks need to be inspected regularly. You’ll need a professional to do this for you.
Look under Septic Tanks, Water Treatment, or Water & Wastewater Services in the Yellow Pages.
Protect the soakage treatment area so that the effluent leaving the tank has best conditions to disperse or evaporate. Don’t let vehicles on to the area, nor anything else that might break up the surface (such as animals or, in winter, children running around).
Don’t overload your tank with too much wastewater.
Most of your wastewater comes from your washing machine, toilet and bathroom.
What you put into your septic tank will determine how much maintenance it needs.
Don’t do multiple loads of laundry in one day.
Don’t empty large quantities of water into the system all at once, such as from a spa pool.
Don’t let rainwater into the septic tank.
Put only sewage and two-ply toilet paper into the system. Everything else should go in the bin, including nappies and tampons.