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.

Septic Tank

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 Chamber

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.

 When to carry out maintenance?

The quick and simple answer is – Before the drains block up…

There is, amongst some quarters, the false belief that septic tanks do not need emptying. It’s true some tanks can go for years between empty’s but that doesn’t mean they are working efficiently; in most cases it will be quite the opposite.

Apart from cesspits that store both solid and liquid waste and require frequent, almost monthly, emptying, all septic tanks and sewage treatment plants require the facility to discharge effluent either directly to a water course, filter chamber or soakaway. Once the first chamber in a septic tank reaches its optimum sludge capacity (OSC) it will ‘pass over’ sludge particles through the outlet into the next chamber. Again, once the second chamber reaches its OSC it will pass sludge particles on again. Eventually, if the tank goes unemptied, the sludge particles will make their way into the filter chamber or soakaway and cause costly blockages; generally once a filter chamber or soakaway have become blocked up with sludge the outlet system will need refurbishing or replacing.

If a tank discharges directly to a watercourse it must be emptied regularly or it risks creating a pollution or environmental health problem.

Filter chamber blocked with sludge

Stream polluted with effluent from a inefficiently working septic tank

All soakaways and filter chambers run the risk of becoming blocked with sludge particles over a prolonged period but with a regular maintenance agreement in place which may be nothing more than a routine empty the risk is dramatically reduced. The Environment Agency recommend that septic tanks are emptied annually to prevent the risk of pollution.

Waterloo Tankers have been emptying septic tanks since the year 2000 and in that time we have emptied thousands of tanks, both routinely and as a consequence of blockages. As a matter of course we always make sure once we’ve emptied the tank that we ensure that the inlet and outlet pipes are clear and that there are no signs of blockages – all at no extra charge from the price quoted for emptying

For further information or to arrange an empty –

Please call us on 01772 747970


Soak-aways & Land Drainage

Suffering From Problem Standing Water or Drainage Issues?

No matter how efficient the septic tank an effective discharge can be the most important part of the system. Soak-away’s and Filter Beds treat effluent that has been discharged from the septic tank so that it does not cause pollution to land or watercourses.

Soak-aways and filter beds can become clogged and blocked over time due to a whole range of reasons, the most popular one being the discharge of heavy sludge from the tank because the septic tank was not emptied often enough. If a soak-away can not be maintained then a new one may be an option.

Filter beds can be reconditioned, repaired or replaced depending on the problem.

Land drainage can help reduce standing water from garden, meadow, sportsfield or sand paddock.

All land drainage and soak-away systems we install are done so with future maintenance in mind so that they can continue to perform for decades. All are designed with multiple inspection chambers for easy access, maintenance and servicing and come complete with a design plans.

Contact us today for professional advice or to arrange a free quote

01772 747 970