Flood Levels Present Problems for Drainage Systems

The persistent winter rainfall experienced across southern England is presenting particular problems for drainage even when no apparent flooding has taken place.

The flooding in the Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley has grabbed the attention of the headlines and politicians but there are less spectacular problems associated with drainage across a much wider area.

In our own local area a pub was closed for three weeks when the rising level of ground water prevented the pubs sewage system from functioning properly. The pub in question relies on mains drainage. Properties that are reliant on non-mains drainage are not only more susceptible to drainage problems but are entirely responsible for sorting out any problems.

The persistent rain has raised the natural water table levels, this can effective many septic tank soakaway systems. If the water table raises above the base of a soakaway then it cannot function correctly.

What then happens :-

1. The sewage entering the septic system still flows in and and also has added flows if drain pipes leak etc due to the excessive ground water, this puts extra pressure on the soakaway, which is not partly or totally ineffective because there is no sub-soil below it in which to allow soakage.

2. the septic system starts to fill above its normal operating levels, solids tend to now move from there holding position more into the outlet area and in turn into the soakaway. The solids can then contaminate the soakaway system, thus reducing its effectiveness even further.

3. The septic system fills to even high levels, the foul drain pipes back up, sewage can then emerge through manholes and gullies around the home leading to pollution.

4. The septic effluent can also raise through the soil and garden areas through the top of the soakaway and through the access covers of the septic tank itself.

5. Areas in flooded locations are now becoming polluted with septic effluent, with little sign of any improvement in current weather conditions heath issues are becoming more of a concern.

6. If pollution levels are high then home owners may be forced to leave their homes as a result of septic contamination.

7. Long term prevention – Install systems that are water tight, including all drainage pipework and have a pumped outlet to may be a raised soakaway location, a sewage treatment plant will also produce much cleaner treated effluent that can reduce contamination issues in wet weather flooded areas.

Septic tank consideration in the poor weather

Over in America there have been advisory reports on local press websites on how residents can safely maintain their septic tanks and sewage treatment plants following the bad weather.

Following adverse weather in the state of Virginia, one local publication has given some guidance online, asking residents that own such systems to:

Check and determine if any erosion or other damage may have occured to the system

Any instances of damage should be checked and rectified before further damage or problems with the system are encountered

Consider that the system might be running slower as a result of the bad weather

Here in the UK we are luckier with the weather, although this doesn’t rule out tank and system damage like this as a result of heavy rainfall, snow or other conditions.

MTM drains can provide the type of inspection and maintenance services mentioned in this news report, which for many people it is not really possible to undertake without specialist equipment and trained engineers.

Regular maintenance and inspections of tanks and systems are an important part of its life and ensuring they are completed should assist in keeping the system running for as long as possible.

More information on the original news report I read can be found on the South Mountain Eagle website.

Septic tank owner warning following accident in Cornwall

A pensioner had a dangerous experience with a septic tank whilst taking a walk near to his home recently.

This is Cornwall reports that at the end of February a grandfather nearly died as he fell through a manhole cover into the tank, which took him nearly mouth deep into its contents.

Luckily the 71 year old was able to pull himself out of the pit using brute force, but being in such a remote location (as many septic tanks are) it’s unlikely anyone would have heard his cries for help had he made them.

Mike McGinness (the patient) is said to have been quoted:

“As I walked over the top of the septic tank the manhole cover and frame just dropped into the tank beneath me. It was quite incredible – within a second I was in the tank. I managed to get my elbows up and by sheer effort pulled myself out”

He is also said to have warned others that this is a reason why they should ensure their septic tank covers are in good condition.

Of course, maintenance of septic tanks and soakaway systems is one of the principal services offered here at MTM environmental, so if you are concerned about the safety of your tank or think it might need repair works, maybe it just hasn’t been looked at for a long time. Call us today to discuss your needs and arrange a visit from one of our engineers.

60% of Irish septic tank owners sign up to register

Recent reports show that a massive 60% of the septic tank owners in Ireland have signed up to the ownership register so far – this equates to around 300,000 households. With the deadline looming, the environment minister is encouraging the remaining 40% to sign up and receive the benefit of grant schemes to help with repairs if they are necessary.

February 1st is the cut off date to receive these ‘benefits’ which include up to 80% of costs (maximum value 4,000 euros) for those earning up to 50,000 euros per annum.

I suspect many people are nervous about signing up, as the register requires that all septic tanks undergo an annual inspection as part of their maintenance regime. This, of course, will assist in maintaining a healthy water supply for owners and the rest of the country, but the costs associated are likely to concern many.

However in the long term, maintaining your septic tank system is likely to make it less likely that the whole system has to be replaced because of long term issues. Having a regular inspection can mean that problems such as cracks and broken parts are spotted far earlier and can sometimes be repaired rather than replaced.

Winter considerations for your Septic Tank

As the end of November approaches I am hearing more and more new reports that we are to expect a harsh winter here in the UK in the coming months.

As the colder weather approaches it puts an additional strain on most facilities with wind, ice, snow and rain having an effect on utilities such as gas, electric and even communications equipment as well as transportation systems and roads.

If your home utilises a septic tank then ensuring its upkeep is never more important than at this time of year, especially for those living in more rural areas who are most likely to be stranded during bad weather.

Septic tank sewerage systems can suffer from a multitude of issues if effected by winter weather, they include:

  1. Frozen pipes between the house and the tank
  2. Frozen pump tank
  3. Damaged soil treatment
  4. Damage to pipes in soil treatment area

And you don’t need to have several feet of snow for this to happen – in fact, snow on top of a system can help to protect it from the frost and ice, but lack of coverage can make it more vulnerable to damage.

However, there are things you can do in order to avoid a situation like this. MTM Environmental can provide a report on the current status of your system and recommendations in order to make it less likely to fail in these conditions. All septic tanks should be maintained and inspected on a regular basis if for no other reason than to provide peace of mind for those who rely on them.

Fire crews make unusual septic tank recovery

I was reading an article recently about an unusual rescue from a septic tank in Portland, Oregan.

Firefighters were called when a 33 year old horse called Roxy fell into a septic tank earlier this year. The crew of rescuers used a pulley system to remove the horse, who was said to be neck deep in the tank.

Luckily she survived the ordeal with just some cuts and scrapes, but falls into septic tanks are not unusual and one of the reasons why septic tank maintenance and inspection of the whole tank (including the entrance) are so important today.

The horse owner was completely unaware of the septic tank on her land so as a result, was surprised to find her horse in it. Although this story has a happy ending it could have been far more serious in other circumstances.

Some old fashioned sewage treatment plants are easier to fall into than others. The newer systems (like the Biorock system mentioned in a previous post) are more likely to not only be smaller, but also enclosed and hidden from view from above. The liklihood is you could walk over the entrance to the tank in someones garden without even knowing it!

The full report about Roxy the horse can be seen on the Yahoo website here, and for more information on inspecting or maintaining your own septic tank system contact MTM Environmental.

Irish septic tank owners – limited time to pay tank charges

The Irish Environment Minister, Phil Hogan, has been discussing the slow uptake on septic tank registration applications.

According to the Irish Sun only around 6% (around 22,500 households) of septic tank owners in the country have taken paid the charges, although it is hoped this will increase before the end of this month as the price will then go up sharply. According the the countrys’ census there are nearly 500,000 tanks of this nature utilised by householders.

At present the cost of registration is 5 Euros, but on the 28th September the cost will go up 10 fold to 50 Euros.

Tank registration is being made compulsary in the country and involves regular inspection of the tank by officials, who (it seems) will ensure tanks are maintained well and enforce upgrades and repairs as and when needed.

Although the work is not yet compulsary here in England, ensuring yourseptic tank is inspected and maintained on a regular basis is an important part of ownership. MTM Environmental offer an inspection service for this purpose and using specialist equipment are able to provide householders with an accurate report of any repairs and maintenance required to their system following a septic tank inspection.

More information on the article can be found on the Irish Sun website.

Unusual things found in septic tanks

When MTM environmental complete septic tank inspections or routine maintenance sometimes we can be surprised by what we find in the process. One of our previous posts mentions the carcus of a mouse found in a customers electric box!

But having researched the things found in some tanks it seems foreign bodies can be a much bigger problem in other places internationally.

Engagement Rings in Hotel Septic Tank

A report on the BBC News website in July claims that 8,000 euros worth of engagement rings were flushed down a toilet accidentally whilst wrapped in some tissue. Several workers tried to locate the rings, but so far have been unsuccessful. The incident happened at a hotel in the Irish Republic and at present it looks as though they will have to be re-purchased!

Man hides in Septic Tank

Over in America, police were chasing a man after receiving reports he was “obstructing traffic”. When the alleged offender fled the scene, he proceeded to the back streets and entered a septic tank through a hole no more than 18 inches wide in order to hide from the authorities. However he became stuck and after a short while had to be freed. Despite having been shoulder deep in human waste, he refused to be hosed off!

So finding the unusual in a septic tank is actually more common than you might think – both of these reports were made in national press within the last month!

Workers get a surprise during Septic Tank contract

Although the maintenance, removal and replacement of septic tanks and sewage treantment works is a daily task for MTM Environmental, no two jobs are ever really the same and this was certainly true at a recent job in Sevenoaks.

Mouse in electricals

Mouse in electricals

The MTM electraical team were in the process of completing a job in the Kent based town when they opened the customers electrical unit. Surprisingly they found an almost perfect skeleton of a rodent that must have wondered onto the console some time ago and unfortunately died before getting out again.

Throughout our work maintaining septic tanks and sewage treatment works we do sometimes find that external equipment (such as these electrical panels) require regular maintenance too, so it is always worth checking that any other devices are in good working order on a regular basis.

Regular inspections of tanks and treatment works will help to keep your systems in good working order and help ensure there is less chance of problems with the systems in the future. It also helps with the life expectancy of your system, as regular maintenance and inspections will flag up any issues that might arise in the future and potentially save money by preventing them from happening.

Keeping your Septic Tank fit during the drought

Everyone has been talking about the drought conditions here in the UK recently, and although back in March we seemed to be having unseasonably hot weather, the rain in April has done nothing to change the situation.

The drought is another reason in a long list to ensure your septic tank is inspected and maintained on a regular basis, not least because leaks and other issues don’t just waste water, they can also cause damage to the surrounding ground above and below.

Leaks and damage to septic tank systems can be caused in a number of ways, but more often than not their location and original installation needs to be taken into account as well as the age of the system, which can degrade over time.

Inspecting your tank might seem like a diffucult task, but modern technologies and equipment available can make inspecting the oldest of tanks much easier.

Using specialist camera equipment engineers are able to remotely inspect the interior of the tank and ascertain what damage has been caused over the years and what can be done to fix it. Of course, in some cases a fix isn’t always possible, so a replacement system might be required – all the more reason to have your inspection and maintenance programme completed on a regular basis.

For more information on having a septic tank inspection, contact MTM Drains to discuss your needs further.