Taking Care of your System
All Septic Tanks, Treatment Plants, Cesspits, Pump Chambers and Fat Traps require a certain degree of care and maintenance from time to time, be it emptying, pump repairs, clearing blockages or repairing the fabric of the unit.
What type of tank do I have?
It may seem obvious but not everyone knows what type of system serves their property. There are four main types of tank/system but they come in many shapes and sizes.
Cesspits are the most basic of all tanks in use today. The are self contained units, usually fabricated in plastic or fibreglass, and are used in areas where there is no capacity for discharge. This means that the units store both solid and liquid waste and have a limited timescale before they require emptying (approximately every 30 to 45 days). Some of the more technically advanced cesspits come with a built in alarm to alert the householder when the tank is almost full.
The most common of all units and occasionally, and wrongly, referred to as cesspits. the key difference between cesspits and septic tanks being that the latter are able to discharge effluent from the tank and away to secondary treatment. Originally built as below ground brick chambers that comprise of either one or more sections that retain the solid waste and allow effluent to be discharged. Each section of the tank will have an inlet and an outlet pipe and hopefully, but not always, a lid for access.
Lids for brick built septic tanks can range from stone or concrete flags to galvanised, plastic or cast iron lids.
‘Modern’ septic tanks, self-contained units fabricated in fibreglass or plastic, became popular in the 1980’s, especially due to their ease of installation. The most common type is the classic ‘Onion’ shaped tank that has a large main chamber and a smaller second chamber that should only contain final effluent prior to discharge.
Sewage Treatment Plant
Sewage treatment plants are self contained units that, as the name suggests, treats the raw sewage either by rotating drums or by pumping air into the chamber. The unit will have an electrical feed to it and have either an internal pump or motor or, as with the more modern types, an external box that houses a linear air pump.
The units are superior to septic tanks and can, with Environment Agency consent, discharge their final effluent direct to a watercourse. However, the quality of the final effluent must be maintained to a high standard which means sewage treatment plants need a robust emptying and maintenance schedule.
Pump chambers can be brick built chambers or prefabricated plastic vessels. They contain one or two pumps (ideally two if serving numerous properties) and discharge all waste from the pump, under pressure, to mains drainage.
A regular maintenance schedule is essential with pump wells as the pumps are prone to blocking with all manner of things from wet wipes to stones and fats.
*Pump chambers can also be used in collaboration with septic tanks and sewage treatment plants where the final effluent may require a pumped outlet to achieve the necessary height for discharge.