Emptying FAQ’s

Click on the headings below to see the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Which areas do you empty septic tanks?

How often should I empty my septic tank?

Your septic tank needs to be emptied at least once a year to maintain its efficiency and to prevent damage to the soakaway.  Some people believe septic tanks don’t have to be emptied at all, however if too much sludge builds up within the septic tank it will wash through into your soak away and cause blockages (not to mention polluting the surrounding land and water courses).

Every septic tank is designed to handle a certain volume of waste, if the number of people using the tank increases; you might need to have the tank emptied more than once a year or look to increase the size of your tank or soakaway.

Get in touch and we'll let you know how often your tank should be emptied.

How often should I empty my cesspool?

A cesspool is simply a holding tank - it doesn't treat the contents. So regular emptying is crucial to stop waste flowing back into your home or business. We recommend fitting an alarm system to let you know when it's ready to be emptied.

Click here to learn more about cesspools.

What is sludge?

Sludge is a combination of inactive solids (which come from bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms) and dead biological matter (micro-organisms that aid the breakdown process). All of this settles at the bottom of the tank, which is why it needs removing at least annually.

Take a look at the jargon buster page to understand some of the key words within the waste water industry.

How do I know if my tank needs desludging?

You'll notice one or a combination of these problems:

  • Sewage rising up from your tank or soak-away

  • Bad smells coming from your tank

  • Seeing raw sewage in a local watercourse

  • Toilets, sinks and showers backing up or taking a long time to drain

  • Overflowing toilets or sinks

  • Full inspection chambers (these should usually be empty)

  • Boggy grass around your soak-away

  • Read more about having your tank emptied with the British Water Guide to Desludging.

Is your tank ready to be emptied? you'll need to book a tanker.

How much does it cost to empty a septic tank?

The cost of emptying a septic tank varies depending where you are and the volume you have removed.

Serious offer discounts for neighbours and groups of houses who have their septic tanks emptied at the same time. 

Please contact us for a quote and we'll get back to you. 

What do I need to know about tank desludging?

First of all, you need to get the professionals in. By that we mean registered waste carriers. So make sure you check that whoever you use is fully registered. Otherwise you face a first-offence fine of up to £20,000 from the environment agency.

This applies to the 'waste producer' (you), the tanker company removing the waste and the water company who will dispose of it. You also need to keep copies of all documentation from the tanker operator for a minimum of two years.

You can check who is registered by looking here, you need to put in the postcode of our head office - DE14 1SN

Our waste carrier / broker registration number is CB/JM3851QQ.

How do I know I’m dealing with professionals?

Three things:

  • Ask for their waste carrier number and check it with the EA

  • Ask where the waste is being transported to. Sewage should always be taken to a licensed waste reception facility or a sewage treatment works.

  • Make sure you are given a waste transfer note. This should describe the quantity and type of waste that's being removed and where it's going for disposal, along with the date and company details.

If in doubt, check with the Environment Agency.

Our waste carrier / broker registration number is CB/JM3851QQ

Where does grease come from and how does it collect?

Any business that deals with or processes food is likely to discharge FOGs (fats, oils and greases). FOGs also accumulate when food is cooked and when plates, pans, utensils and crockery are washed. This then solidifies in your pipes and can cause bad smells and blockages, and attract pests too.

Download our FOG PDF to learn more.

How often should a grease trap be emptied?

It depends on the type of grease trap and its size in relation to the kitchen. Some can go three months in between empties whereas others, such as an active internal grease trap, need emptying daily. It also depends on how busy your kitchen is and the quantity of FOGs that go down the drain.

On the other hand, some kitchens have dosing systems which don't need to be emptied at all. This is because the system dilutes, heats and activates a mix of bacteria and enzyme strains, which work to 'digest' the grease.

Learn more about grease management here.

Why should I empty my tank?

You'll save money.

If your septic tank, cesspool or pumping station isn't looked after, it'll eventually let you down which can be disruptive and expensive. Bear in mind too that once the problems start, it's probably too late. So aim for prevention rather than cure.

You'll stay on the right side of the law.

Those not connected to the mains sewer are legally bound to look after their sewage systems properly. Anyone not sticking to the rules will be sniffed out and may be prosecuted

It can help you sell your house.

An unusable septic tank or one in a bad state will lower your property value and could be a major liability.

It protects your health.

By regularly maintaining your tank, you're helping to prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria and viruses.

It protects the environment.

If your tank isn't maintained properly, sewage can leak into local watercourses killing plant and animal species for miles downstream.

How does a septic tank work?

Septic tanks allow solids to settle from the waste water flowing through the tank, which then soaks away into a land drains, so the ground must be suitable for the liquid to drain away easily.

The heavy solids / sludge accumulate at the bottom of the tank and the lighter greases and oils (called the scum), float to the top of the liquid (effluent). The effluent then flows by gravity to the soak away system. Naturally acting bacteria and the filtering action further break down the waste.