Monthly Archives: September 2012

Septic tank management: A fragrant problem

Inspect cess pools and septic tanks regularly to avoid problems.

Walking around a small village in Rutland recently I noticed the fragrance of septic tanks in the air. In rural areas it is common for properties not to be connected to the mains drainage system. These properties have to rely on a private drainage system such as a cesspool or septic tank. These types of drainage systems are very effective, provided they are managed correctly.

An average household will produce some 124,000 litres of waste each year. This is equivalent to emptying an 18,000 litre cesspool approximately seven times a year. If properly managed, most septic tanks or small sewage treatment plants do not cause problems – but if they are poorly designed, installed or managed, the discharge from them can damage the environment. Domestic wastewater can contain substances that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment.

A septic tank is a complete mini sewage system in which effluent is treated naturally. The primary purpose of the tank is to separate solids from liquids, as wastewater flows through it, and to help to break down contaminants.

A cesspool is a sealed underground tank with an inlet pipe but no outlet. It is connected to a property by a series of drainage pipes. The cesspool stores sewage and other wastewater until the time of disposal. Cesspools must be watertight to prevent the leakage of foul water or the ingress of groundwater.

Under the provisions of the Public Health Act 1936, it is an offence to allow a cesspool to overflow or leak. If this happens the owner is liable to prosecution by the local authority. In addition, if pollution of a watercourse takes place, the Environment Agency may take legal action under the Water Resources Act 1991. The penalty for allowing a polluting discharge is up to £20,000 and/or three months imprisonment.

A smell of sewage in the area, slowly draining sinks, toilets or baths, liquid overflowing from the inspection cover, surface flooding ‘downstream’ of the tank or nettles and vigorous plant growth ‘downstream’ can all be indicators of problems with your septic tank.

To avoid problems:

  • Put all wastewaters from your home into the system – any of these can contain environmental pollutants. All roof and surface water should discharge directly into a ditch or watercourse.
  • Use bleaches and disinfectants sparingly because these could kill the useful bacteria that help to digest the waste in your septic tank. Some brands of domestic cleaner are ‘septic tank friendly’ and are preferred.
  • Try to avoid excessive discharges from washing machines by using the ‘halfload’ setting. If possible use showers instead of baths.
  • Inspect the system at least once a month.
  • De-sludge the tank at least once a year. Ensure that air vents are not blocked and that all covers are secured and easily accessible.
  • Act immediately if you find a blockage or any sign of pollution.

Do not:

  • Use your toilet or kitchen sink as a bin. Put disposable nappies, sanitary items, plastic or other large solids which may cause blockages into the bin.
  • Empty chemical toilets into the drains of the septic tank.
  • Pour paints, solvents, oils, fats or heavy greases into the drains of the septic tank. These should be kept in their original containers and disposed of properly.
  • Allow roof or surface water into the septic tank. Excessive discharges into the tank will flush solids through before adequate digestion has taken place.

At Drain Doctor Plumbing and Drainage we understand septic tank systems and how they work.  We are experts in both the maintenance and installation of the systems.  We can upgrade existing systems to ensure they do not pollute ground water aquifers or water courses.

We can carry out ground forosity tests and lay down new soak-away or nitrification fields, with all work carried out in accordance with building regulations. We can also ‘audit’ existing septic tank systems and ensure the correct bacterial balance within the system.  This can be done by ensuring all materials used in the house are bio-degradable.  We also sell products to redress bacterial imbalance in septic tank systems.

Call us on 0800 3357 999 for a free septic tank consultation.

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Keep drains clear to help mitigate flooding

As this story from Gloucestershire highlights, with all the heavy rain and flooding at the start of autumn – and more on the way – it’s more important than ever to keep drains clear so that surface water can flow as efficiently as possible.

With all the rain around it’s time to make sure you keep your drains clear and blockage free.

There are plenty of other horror stories around as flooding continues to affect the North East of England and Scotland as well. In some areas a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours. With that volume of rainwater even the clearest drains have been struggling to cope.

Drain Doctor Plumbing  is urging businesses to make sure their drains are free of any blockages from such things as fallen leaves to ensure the potential risk of flooding is minimised. A simple CCTV drain survey can help to identify any blockages or potential problems. Even a visual inspection of gutters and downpipes will help.

Many people think flooding is something that won’t happen to them, but the risk is there. Being unprepared simply means the chance of an incident increases.

Although insurance policies can cover damage to property, damage to household budgets and businesses in terms of lost working hours is often not covered. This is why it is vitally important for businesses to take the time now to make sure their drains are clear of any blockages and are in good working order.

According to the Environment Agency over 5 million people in England and Wales live in properties that are at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. Add to this the risk of surface water, sewer and groundwater flooding and the potential for disruption becomes massive in periods of severe wet weather such as we are experiencing at the moment.

The Association of British Insurers predicts that coastal floods and storm damage will increase significantly over the next 50 years. Inland, more frequent heavy rainstorms and increased seasonal rainfall could see flooding from rivers become commonplace.

This spells trouble for communities across the country which are not adequately prepared for the damage that flooding can cause.

Let Drain Doctor help you to get your drains clear, and as fast running as they can be, before potential trouble arrives.

  • Drain      Doctor Plumbing – 0800 3357 999.

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Let’s hear it for the ladies

Drain Doctor Plumbing chairman Freddie Mitman (centre) presents John and Helen Rushforth with their Franchise of the Year award.

Female plumbers have it tough in an industry that is dominated by men. But if you think that’s the case in the UK take a look at this story from Egypt. Housewife Um Bassem battled against the odds to become the best-known plumber in her district of Cairo.

In the UK there are a number of female-only plumbing businesses. However, according to industry estimates there are around 160,000 plumbers in the UK of which only about one per cent are women.

According to consumer surveys householders are increasingly seeking female plumbers because they feel safer and more relaxed having them in their homes. These often include single women, the elderly and members of religious groups. It is perhaps time to encourage more women into the industry.

At Drain Doctor there are a number female franchisees out there who are doing a fantastic job running their businesses. We would like to hear from some of you about your experiences in the trade. We would also like to hear from any female technicians on the vans about what it’s like to be working in the trade.

Hopefully those experiences are positive ones that will help to encourage more women into the trade.

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Exploding toilets highlight pressures on power-assisted loos

Toilet bowl

Toilet bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to this story from the US over 2.3 million power pressure toilets have been recalled by the manufacturers of the pressure unit because they have been exploding. To date over 300 units have ruptured.

Pressure-assisted toilets work by compressing air in a storage tank inside the cistern. The tank is filled from the mains and when the tank is charged it blows water out into the toilet bowl and through the pipes. This kind of system can clean the bowl and drains more efficiently and has been marketed as ‘greener’ than a traditional toilet because it uses less water.

However, these systems are clearly not without their drawbacks. They are noisy and pressure can build up in the system causing them to blow up. They are not widely available or popular in the UK yet but, as with most imports from across ‘the pond’, it’s only a matter of time.

If you are thinking of purchasing a power-assisted toilet contact a local plumber like Drain Doctor for advice on installation and maintenance.

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