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Septic tanks

Has any one got experience of a septic tank in their garden or in an adjacent paddock or neighbors field.
Also if there was no other option and you had to have one would you happy to have one in your garden or a neighbors field.
b.Share a tank with one or multiple neighbors.
We have looked at a property which has a septic tank in an adjacent field about 400yds away which is also shared with multiple neighbors and we believe there are problems but the estate agent hasn’t been able to find out all the details yet.
Thanks in advance



  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 3,990
    edited November 2018
    We have a 100 year old Septic tank in our garden. Very large one as it was originally for the three other houses on site. No problems now that our original neighbours had their own one installed. They used to put stuff down the toilet which blocked the drains. I am talking sanitary products and plastic, especially Q tips (by the thousand!). Our tank was last emptied in 2009. We have just had it done as we are trying to move. The new Onion type tank in the neighbours has to be emptied on a far more regular basis.
    Cannot help with any of your problems as we are very happy with our system. As far as I can see the main problem with shared tanks is that you have no control over how people use them. Certainly I am much happier now that ours is only used by us.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,554
    Our house in Belgium had no sewage drainage at all when we bought it.  The farmers simply directed their loo output to the midden heap........  As we had no cows and also needed to put proper plumbing in all over we had a sepric tank installed.    You can flush down an activator every time it's emptied (once a year for us on average) for the old kind.  There are new regs about septic tanks having their own purification system attached so look into that.

    This new house has one of those and an "exhaust" pipe that is higher than the house roof.    We have no problems with smells, back up etc.  You can't use pure bleach to clean your loo as that kills off the bacteria that deal with the output to break it down but you can use normal toilet cleaners and fresheners.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • SlumSlum Posts: 357
    Our tank is about 50 metres from our house and in a neighbouring field. To empty it the tanker reverses a little way up our drive and the hose goes over the fence for access to the tank. The liquid from the tank is released into the field so there is a good collection of nettles in the area. We have the tanker in once a year to empty it. Due to the tank our water bill is much lower as we're not paying the water company to take away the waste. 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,137
    Gosh, emptied once a year! Ours is emptied every 3 or 4 years, our water bill is around £34.00 a quarter.  If you added in the price of emptying yearly that would add quite a lot to the bill.
    Back to OP, I wouldn’t buy a house with a shared tank, whilst you will probably be careful what you let go down into it, no bleach, toilet cleaner soap powders etc, the other sharers may do, then the tank won’t work as it should and will need emptying more often and you will be forced to pay your share. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,572
    edited November 2018
    We also have a tank, it's around 20m from the house just the other side of the barn, it's a new plastic tank with two soak away pipes and SHOULD need emptying every year (my grans old brick one was a once every 2-3 year affair) it however needs emptying twice a year as our soil doesn't allow it to drain properly.

    In my experience you want the shortest run to the tank that is possible, 400 yards sounds an awful long way unless it's a really steep downhill! I would not want to share one, simply because of shared costs and perhaps people not being as careful as they should be, but it's very very normal to have one in the garden.

    I would make sure before you buy that there is a watertight agreement in place about costs for replacing/repairing and emptying.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,299
    I'd never want to share anything with a neighbour unless I had no choice. 
    Shared drives, septic tanks, fences , walls etc etc : a recipe for disputes further down the line.
    We have a septic tank and it's been emptied once , when we moved in 7 years ago, and it's still not full again.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,849
    400 yards sounds like a long way for there to be sufficient fall in the drainage pipework. Unless the tank is very deep or the ground falls away a lot I suppose. You need a fall off at least 10mm per metre which at that distance is over 3.5 metres fall plus the depth of the initial invert level and the depth of the tank itself. It would be a big tank for several houses too.

    Sharing is fine if it has sufficient capacity and the agreements on maintenance are well covered legally. I'd be annoyed if I had to pay equal pricing to empty it though and another house had a lot more people living there.

    New systems are now usually fitted with package sewage treatment plants so if you want to go your own way allow £5-6000 to get one fitted. The outflow is safe enough to use for a bog garden (forgive the pun), reed bed or pond if you so wish.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,191
    We share a septic tank with our neighbours. Our house got its first indoor loo in 1929 and we think it was probably put in then.  Before then, it was ash pits.

    The tank is served by a communal inlet pipe from the two houses and lies in next door’s garden. It has never been touched in at least sixteen years. We have no idea where the run off goes. Possibly into a field. We are quite happy in our ignorance.

    We do not use bleach or biological powder and, of course, we don’t bung stuff down that won’t rot or dissolve.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,394
    We have a septic tank in our French house in the garden. I was told it needs emptying every 8 years but new French regulations imply more often than that. I put an activator in it every 6 months to keep it working. No bleach, check on the bottles of loo cleaner to see if they are OK to use for septic tanks. It's much cheaper than being on mains drainage. I wouldn't want to share though, or have it on someone else's land.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • 400 yards seems a very long way away!  I have a septic tank system (twin brick-built chambers) and the "run off" goes down into the field at the back of the house.  This goes through a perforated pipe which was installed in a long trench about 5ft below ground and buried in gravel before the excavated soil was put back.  This type of system is no longer available as "new" and the modern type is a "digester" sort which leaches clear water out through the surface of the tank itself.  Not very satisfactory if the ground is clay-ey or waterlogged and that's what can cause problems.  They also need servicing/emptying  on an annual basis and the contractor who does this has to have a licence to dispose of the contents in the proper manner.  It's very important not to use lots of bleach as this undermines/affects the bio-digester system, and nothing apart from waste water and human waste must be flushed down the drains -  this applies to the old type of twin-chamber type too.  The main problem with shared tanks is that people don't know about all of this, and where there are properties like barn conversions etc where the building is converted into several dwellings, problems and blockages often happen.  With the twin-tank system the waste enters the first tank, settles, and when the contents reach a certain level it passes through a drainpipe into the next "chamber".  When the level in this rises - having settled again -  the run-off goes out into the perforated pipe and is more or less clear by then.  If there were a stream or river close by,  the installation of the tank would be difficult because of the need to prevent contamination of any watercourse.

    If you have a septic tank system it pays to have a water meter rather than pay water rates, as water rates also cover the cost of disposal of waste.  Over 25 years I have needed to have the system serviced only three times - last year it cost £125 and my water bill (metered water) is les than £8 per month, though of course it all depends on how many people live at the property concerned.

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