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The Topic Variety
No Photos 19th Oct 2015
DIY Septic Tank Surveys

Lift the lid - to - or lids of the septic tank. DO NOT BREATHE IN THE GASES AS THEY ARE DANDEROUS. Do not stand on the top of the tank as it could collapse due to concrete corrosion. The Septic Tank will be one of two types:A modern 'onion' shaped septic tank, in which case there will be only one lid with a 'tube' of around 600mm. diameter leading down and the open top of a 'pipe' visible at either side.A traditional 2 chamber septic tank which can be made of fibreglass, brick, block, plastic or concrete. This may have one lid in the centre of the divider between the 2 chambers or two lids, one over each chamber. These septic tanks usually give a better effluent quality than the type above. Occasionally, there is only a single chamber in the tank.If the tank is the first type, there is little you can do to inspect it as you can only see down the tube. However, you should be able to find out if the effluent is at the correct level or if the tank is 'backing-up' from the soakaway. The liquid level should be no higher than the bottom of the oulet from the tank. You can find the bottom of the - by - outlet by using a garden cane. Imagine the pipe that you can see is the top of a capital 'T' on its side. The shaft of the 'T' is the horizontal outlet pipe and what you can see is there to enable you to rod down and clear any blockages that may occur at the 90 degree bend. Slide the garden cane down the OUTSIDE of the pipe on the furthest side from the house. The cane should find the outlet and catch on the horizontal pipe base that is the outlet on the 'T' fitting. Pull the cane out and measure the depth to the outlet pipe base. The water level in the 'tube' should be no higher than this, or you have trouble with the soakaway! If the water level is lower than this, then it is likely that the tank is fractured and leaking.If the septic tank is the second type, you should be able to see all of the tank. Make sure that there are 'T' pipes on both the inlet and, very importantly, on the outlet. These 'T' fittings stop any floating solids from going down the outlet and blocking the soakaway. If these are missing, then they will have to be fitted.There - she - should be a 'crust' on the first chamber. It looks disgusting - brown chocolate mouse coloured, but is a sign of a healthy tank.The water level in the second chamber (or the single chamber if it is a single chamber tank) should be no higher than the bottom of the outlet pipe. If you can't see the outlet pipe, you have a problem as the tank has a compromised soakaway and has 'backed-up'. If the property is occupied and the water level is lower than the bottom of the outlet pipe, then the tank is probably leaking and will need to be replaced.Have a good look at the sides of the tank. If you can see 'tide marks' of previous higher water levels, then this indicates that the soakaway has problems, probably in times of wet weather or when visitors increase the flow rate.Inspect the sides of the tank carefully. If you see any signs of corrosion, mortar joints that have eroded, etc, then the tank is coming to the end of its life.Inspect the cover very carefully. Septic tank gases include Hydrogen Sulphide, which converts to Sulphuric Acid on contact with damp surfaces, and this eats into the concrete. Many people are killed every year because of collapsing septic tank covers, so never stand on it.' - - - -

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