So back in winter we had some problems with our septic tank. A septic tank that is the appropriate size for the property (which ours is) should need emptying once a year. Ours was emptied over the summer and it needed doing again before Christmas, a bit early but then it had been raining a lot so we didn’t think too much of it. But then it needed doing again a month later which sent alarm bells ringing. Now as I think I’ve explained before our septic tank had a soak-away attached. A soak-away is basically a big pit of gravel where the waste water drains into and it then trickles down the gravel and disperses into the ground. However, a soak-away can fail if it anything other than liquid gets into it. The liquid will then fail to drain and the septic tank will become backed up and filled with water. This is what had happened with our system. A soak-away is not a perfect system and most end up failing at some point. In fact nowadays they aren’t installed anymore and instead you require a sewage treatment plant instead. This will filter the waste water before draining it into a ditch. As our soak-away was failing we took the plunge back in spring and had a sewage treatment plant installed. Unfortunately this coincided with my being home with tonsillitis for the first part of the week and having a digger digging up your garden to lay new piping is not exactly conducive to resting. In order to install the new plant they had to dig up and remove our old septic tank, install the new sewage treatment plant and then dig up and place pipes to run the treated clean water into a ditch.
A right pain in the backside to have done but it does now mean that we’re set up and shouldn’t need anything doing to it for the next 25 or so years at least now. Ours is one of the smallest tanks available as there are only three of us in our house but I was still surprised by how large it was.
It did result in a huge number of diggers and crane type vehicles at our house which delighted C but most people aren’t really that interested in septic tanks and now it’s installed and working neither am I really. But in case you are here are some photos from during and after the work.
One thing which did really impress me was how well the guys cleared up. They had had to move some of the bark area edgings in order to get the digger around as they had to manoeuvre around a forty-odd year old Acer tree. They removed them carefully and placed boards down to protect the ground and then replaced them carefully and relaid some grass seed where the ground had turned into mud around the tank. Now you wouldn’t really know that the tank was there as it blends in fairly well, all you hear is the occasional noise where the electric motor (goodness only knows what that does but it keeps it all ticking away nicely) is activated.
So one of the joys of living in the countryside is that whilst we are connected to mains water we are not connected to mains sewage. So that means we have a septic tank sunken in the garden. It also has a soak away which basically means that solid waste stays in the bottom and liquid waste can soak away into the ground and provide nutrients to the soil. Pretty gross when you think about and one friend who I told about it actually wrinkled up her nose when I told her. So in theory you end up having the solid waste removed and the liquid waste is recycled. The septic tank was emptied was just before we moved in and then we had it emptied again just last week as we noticed it was rather full. We’ve had a really wet winter here and so I think the soak away has struggled to drain the liquid away fast enough.
One major advantage of a septic tank is that you don’t have to pay for mains sewage on your water bill, which for us has left us with a tiny monthly bill. Instead you only pay when you have your tank emptied. Which I guess depends on how much water you use. I do like my baths and with a toddler we tend to use the washing machine and dishwasher with great regularity. Whilst we were having the work done over the past few weeks we have had the cover to the tank replaced as it was broken and the last thing you want to have is an open septic tank in the garden.
When we were having one of the trenches dug up this past week our builder encountered a tree root which had cracked the pipe leading into the tank and was starting to infiltrate it. We had a crab apple tree just inside the entrance to the property which we cut down in the autumn that appears to be the culprit. The plus side is we’ve at least discovered this problem and our fabulous builder was able to remove the section of cracked pipe and replace it. I dread to think of what could have happened if the pipe burst!
So yesterday our builder commenced some large scale outside works. We need to run electric, water and coms to several parts of the garden and this is being done using trenches. We are also having three concrete slabs laid; for my cabin, for the sheds to stand on and as a hard standing area for our caravan to be stored on. Added to that we are having patios laid for the greenhouse and for the barbecue area. We also are having some lighting and electricity points installed near the barbecue area so that we don’t have to wander down the drive in the dark and so we can have electric heaters out in the evening. The drive is also getting done, although I’m not exactly sure what the final plan was for that but anything will be better than how it was this winter. I’ve very much let J take the lead in these major outside works, partly as he knows exactly what he wants to achieve out there (I mainly make demands for what I want to be able to do and it is his job to work out the logistics) and partly as he is vaguely familiar with this process from his job and so should know what he’s talking about. It’s going to be a major disruption for the three or so weeks that it’s being done but after that we should have an outside area which really works for our family. We’ll still have to get the sheds, cabin and greenhouse but that should be a relatively easy thing to do once we have some money gathered together.
This is where we were at the end of day one. A massive trench dug down the side of the house and a new cover for the septic tank as the old one had rusted so that only half of the opening was covered and just had a fold down table covering it. Not exactly what you want when you have a toddler running around. Oh and skip number one is about half full so far, I’m guessing we will go through about 5 skips at least before the work is done.