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General Questions

How do I know if my septic tank is not working?


There are some sewage systems that are easy to diagnose as “not working” and there are also some systems that may need a trained eye to make the call. Below are some signs of sewage systems that may not be working: Blockages in manholes or slowly draining toilets. Wet patches in the garden - even in dry weather The septic tank requires frequent emptying Storm or Roof water entering the septic system or leaking manholes Wet areas in the garden around the septic tank or percolation area Lush green grass around the septic tank/soakaway, even during dry weather The presence of nitrates and bacteria in your drinking water test results The septic tank is connected to a ditch or stream Odours from the septic tank or around the house If your still not sure it is possible to get your sewage system visually assessed by Corcorcan Precast Tanks

What is a Percolation Test?


A percolation test is carried out to determine what type of sewage treatment system will be suitable for your property. The percolation test provides us with the soakage value of the soil, what depth the water table or bed is present at and a number of other factors. With these results and the assistance of Geological mapping we can provide you with the most suitable sewage system for your site.

Why do I need to carry out a Percolation Test?


Percolation tests are carried to determine the size required for the percolation area. The soakage of the soil in every site varies. Some sites have good soakage and some are very poor. Therefore a single solution can't be offered to everyone. It is crucial to carry out a percolation test in order to know how good your soil soaks and to determine the maximum height of the water table (in order to maintain relevant separations as per the EPA Code of Practice 2009). A percolation test is required by law in order to apply for planning permission. Sepcon have a dedicated team that will assist in providing the relevant site assessment information and documents in order to lodge your planning application. Contact us today to discuss your individual requirements.

What is the difference between a septic tank & a treatment Unit?


A septic tank normally consists of two chambers. The first chamber holds the solid waste and the second chamber holds the partially treated effluent. The effluent then enters the percolation area where further treatment takes place. Septic tanks are suitable for sites with a good soil soakage rate. A sewage treatment unit normally consists of 3 or more chambers. The first chamber holds the solid waste, the second is where the effluent treatment takes place and the the third is the final settlement chamber. Treatment units are ideals for sites with poor soakage as the effluent quality is better upon discharge to the percolation area.

 

Septic Tank Maintenance Frequently Ask Questions

Why do I need to de-sludge 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.

How do I care for my domesitc 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.

How often do I have to de-sludge the septic 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.

Do I really need to renew my maintenance agreements?

Yes.  All on-site wastewater treatment systems require ongoing maintenance to ensure that the system is providing adequate treatment of the wastewater.  An on-going maintenance agreement should be made and renewed with an appropriately qualified person to ensure that your wastewater treatment system is working effectively at all times.

What effects will oils and greases 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 (see information below) 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

What volume of Septage (includes effluent, sludge and scum) will be arising from domestic waste water treatment systems?

In Ireland, there are approximately 440,000 houses with domestic waste water treatment systems and on the basis of US figures the annual septage volume can be estimated at 0.372 x 109 litres /year or 372,000 m3/year.

Who can take the DWWTS sludges?

It is recommended that a waste contractor that has an appropriate waste collection permit be employed to de-sludge a septic tank or DWWTS. A list of approved permit holders is available from the Environment Section of your Local Authority.

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.

Can sludges from DWWTS be landspread?

Individual landowners can dispose of sludges from their own DWWT system by land spreading, strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) Regulation, S.I. No. 148/1998, as amended.


Permitted waste collectors can also dispose of sludge’s by  landspreading  where their Waste Collection Permit allows them to do so strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Waste Management  (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) Regulation, S.I. No. 148/1998, as amended.

 

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Corcoran Precast Tanks
Ballybromell
Fennagh
Co. Carlow
Ireland

(059)9727956

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