FAQs Service & Maintenance

Here you’ll find the most complete answers to your septic tank service and maintenance questions!

What records do I need to keep?

Householders having their septic tanks de-sludged should ensure that they retain a receipt from the permitted waste undertaker who de-sludges the tank.

The receipt should include the following information:

  • Name, address and Permit Number of the waste collector.
  • Date of desludging.
  • Quantity removed and destination to where the sludge is to be taken for treatment and disposal/recovery

Where should the sludge go?

The Permitted Waste collector must ensure that sludges are treated and disposed/recovered in accordance with legislative requirements.

How often do I need to empty my domestic waste water treatment system (DWWTS)?

The frequency of de-sludging is dependent on the size of the tank and the number of persons living in the house. Best practice for the management of DWWTS indicates that de-sludging should be undertaken when the level of sludge on the bottom of the tank is greater than approximately 400 mm. A minimum of 75mm of sludge should remain in the tank to assist in the re-seeding of the new sludge. Regular maintenance is required to ensure that the septic tank operates effectively and that solids do not enter the percolation area and clog the distribution pipe work. We recommend once a year.

Will bleach or disinfectants harm the domestic wastewater treatment system?

Normal amounts of household bleach, disinfectants and detergents will not harm the domestic wastewater treatment system. However, excessive amounts of bleach will temporarily reduce the treatment capacity, as the microorganisms needed to treat the biological waste will be killed off. In saying this, the system should return to full performance capacity within a short period of time. It is important to be aware of potential effects that excessive use of these chemicals will have on your wastewater treatment system.

What effects could using a macerator or in-sink disposal unit have on my wastewater treatment system?

Adding macerated food waste to your wastewater increases the organic strength of the wastewater. This in turn could result in inadequate treatment, blocked pipes and smells arising from the tank or percolation area

What are grease traps and what do they do?

Grease traps capture the oil and grease from the flow of wastewater by slowing down the flow of hot greasy water through the trap and allowing it to cool.  As it cools, the grease and oil separate out of the water and float to the top of the trap.

The cooler water then flows to the septic tank where it is treated.  Grease traps are usually not included in the design of a domestic wastewater system but are mandatory in systems treating water from restaurants, hotels and any other businesses that supply food. Due to the absence of these systems in single dwellings it is highly important that people do not allow any fats, grease or oils to enter their septic tank systems.  The inlet pipes can become clogged up by the fats and grease and therefore can reduce the treatment rate of the septic tank system.  To insure that this doesn’t happen to your system, all fats, grease and oils must not be disposed down the sink or drains.

What effect will oil and grease have on my wastewater treatment system?

Oils and grease from cooking that escape down the drain can damage your system. Food waste and cooking oils can be recycled and avoid the use of food macerators or “in-sink disposal units” Excess amount of food, grease or oils will cause blockages, smells, overload your treatment system and damage you percolation area.

Why do I need to desludge my domestic waste water treatment system?

If the level of sludge builds up in the tank it may make its way out of the tank and block the distribution box and the percolation area or polishing filter. And if the percolation area or polishing filter becomes blocked it is very difficult to clean and may require replacement – an expensive option!

How often should you clean your septic tank?

There is no hard and fast rule and the frequency of septic tank emptying will depend on a number of factors including:

• Volume of the tank
• Volume of waste produced
• Amount of indigestible solids
• Age of the septic tank system

The EPA recommends emptying your septic tanks at least once a year to avoid potential problems developing.

How often do I have to desludge the tank?

It is recommended to de-sludge a septic tank at least once a year but this varies with the system’s capacity and use.  You must de-sludge the septic tank if scum is present in the second chamber or if the sludge comes up to about 400mm from the bottom of the tank. A minimum of 75mm of sludge should remain in the tank to assist in the re-seeding of the new sludge.  Regular maintenance is required to ensure that the septic tank operates effectively and that solids do not enter the percolation area and clog the distribution pipe work.

How do I care for my domestic wastewater treatment system?

You should visually check your system at least every six months and note any ponding of effluent, bad smells or discoloration of nearby drains. If you have an advanced treatment system check the electrical components (pump, blower etc) are operational. Don’t be tempted to turn off the power to save electricity – If there is no air going to the system it becomes an undersized septic tank and treatment is ineffective. You should also check the distribution box i.e. the manhole between the wastewater treatment system and the percolation area to ensure even distribution of effluent and ensure there are no blockages.

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