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  • FIRST POST
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 12th Jan 18, 7:01 PM
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    lovehols
    We can't find the Septic Tank
    • #1
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:01 PM
    We can't find the Septic Tank 12th Jan 18 at 7:01 PM
    We have a purchase going through on a house. It was built in the 70's and we have had a full structural survey.

    We raised with the surveyor we hadn't been able to find the septic tank. The surveyor located two vent pipes but also was not able to locate the septic tank (there is a large garden area next to a canal, which in part is overgrown).

    The rest of the survey was fine overall, though we did negotiate some further money odd due to some roofing issues. The vendor who is dealing with probate after inheriting the house from a friend knows very little about the property and has no idea either and to his knowledge doesn't think it had been emptied ever and is one that has 'chambers'.

    We have spoken to the vendor and insisted that he has it inspected, emptied and some kind of certification from a company which is then sent to our solicitor (as well as confirming the location of the tank)! Does this sound OK? Is there anything else we need to do?
Page 1
    • Alter ego
    • By Alter ego 12th Jan 18, 7:07 PM
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    Alter ego
    • #2
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:07 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:07 PM
    As I understand septic tanks they don't need emptying. Cess pits are different though.

    Edit. Just discovered septic tanks should be emptied annually nowadays.
    Last edited by Alter ego; 12-01-2018 at 7:13 PM.
    Ignore me if you like, it's not the real me anyway.
    • societys child
    • By societys child 12th Jan 18, 7:08 PM
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    societys child
    • #3
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:08 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:08 PM
    We have spoken to the vendor and insisted that he has it inspected, emptied and some kind of certification from a company which is then sent to our solicitor (as well as confirming the location of the tank)! Does this sound OK? Is there anything else we need to do?
    If I was the vendor, I'd probably suggest you need to look for somewhere else.

    • Quizzical Squirrel
    • By Quizzical Squirrel 12th Jan 18, 7:09 PM
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    Quizzical Squirrel
    • #4
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:09 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:09 PM
    I'm not sure what you mean by certification but I don't think a company will put themselves on the line certifying that it's all ok. That's a big liability.
    An inspection report, yes. Full of caveats, of course!

    Usually, you should commission these reports yourself, for your own reassurance, but of course in this case you have to pump it to inspect it.

    We paid for that pumping and inspection ourselves last time because we didn't fully trust the seller but perhaps you may feel differently.
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 12th Jan 18, 7:13 PM
    • 80 Posts
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    lovehols
    • #5
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:13 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:13 PM
    If he can't confirm the location or it, we can't and our surveyor can't, we need someone to confirm where it is! The only way of doing this is to ask him to get someone to confirm where it is and inspect it.

    Surely anyone would need to know this? I've never been on a septic tank before but I was lead to believe they should be emptied (perhaps we are wrong then)!

    Unfortunately as the vendor is dealing with probate lots of info we have had off him so far is wrong, the date of the property was wrong by about 30 years according to the surveyor, information about boundaries etc. Actually the vendor has been fine about is asking questions.
    • Cakeguts
    • By Cakeguts 12th Jan 18, 7:15 PM
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    Cakeguts
    • #6
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:15 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:15 PM
    Is the surveyor saying that the septic tank isn't under the vent pipes? If so what are the vent pipes for?
    • G_M
    • By G_M 12th Jan 18, 7:16 PM
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    G_M
    • #7
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:16 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:16 PM
    As explained, septic tanks need only eriodic emptying - indeed emptying them removes the bacteria required to break down the effluent.

    Yes, there will probably be several chambers in which the effluent breaks down, and then an outflow (of by then relatively clean water), hopefully not into the canal,,,,,,!

    If the vendor does not know, you'll have tto rely on your own inspections. I'd go and have a good poke around the garden! Then you could ask an installer to inspect, but as said, e will probably need to empty it, for which you'd need the vendor's permission. whether you can pursuade the vendor to pay is up to him.

    For a better understanding, use google or duckduckgo eg

    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/septic-tanks-and-cesspits
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 12th Jan 18, 7:19 PM
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    lovehols
    • #8
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:19 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:19 PM
    I only had a brief conversation today with the surveyor, we will get the full report in a few days. If the location could have been found that would have been a start as our surveyor would have looked at it and at least inside and we would have felt some assurance, we don't know if it is brick, plastic etc.
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 12th Jan 18, 7:22 PM
    • 80 Posts
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    lovehols
    • #9
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:22 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Jan 18, 7:22 PM
    As explained, septic tanks need only eriodic emptying - indeed emptying them removes the bacteria required to break down the effluent.

    Yes, there will probably be several chambers in which the effluent breaks down, and then an outflow (of by then relatively clean water), hopefully not into the canal,,,,,,!

    If the vendor does not know, you'll have tto rely on your own inspections. I'd go and have a good poke around the garden! Then you could ask an installer to inspect, but as said, e will probably need to empty it, for which you'd need the vendor's permission. whether you can pursuade the vendor to pay is up to him.

    For a better understanding, use google or duckduckgo eg

    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/septic-tanks-and-cesspits
    Originally posted by G_M

    Thank you so much, yes I'd read about not emptying in full to prevent removing the bacteria. I'd read that some people put dead chickens down them. The vendor has said he will pay for it to be inspected but I think a third visit to have a good poke around at the weekend may be helpful.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 12th Jan 18, 7:36 PM
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    G_M
    Thank you so much, yes I'd read about not emptying in full to prevent removing the bacteria. I'd read that some people put dead chickens down them. The vendor has said he will pay for it to be inspected but I think a third visit to have a good poke around at the weekend may be helpful.
    Originally posted by lovehols
    1st time I've heard that one! Cooked or raw?

    Did the vendorr mean he'll arrange an inspection and show the report to you (in which case, inspected by who?), or he'll reimburse you if you arrange the inspection?
    • agrinnall
    • By agrinnall 12th Jan 18, 7:38 PM
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    agrinnall
    As I understand septic tanks they don't need emptying. Cess pits are different though.

    Edit. Just discovered septic tanks should be emptied annually nowadays.
    Originally posted by Alter ego
    I lived in a property for 10 years (2004-14) that had a septic tank serving 6 properties, and it was never emptied in that time. Emptying annually would have been an awful waste of money.
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 12th Jan 18, 7:49 PM
    • 80 Posts
    • 24 Thanks
    lovehols
    1st time I've heard that one! Cooked or raw?

    Did the vendorr mean he'll arrange an inspection and show the report to you (in which case, inspected by who?), or he'll reimburse you if you arrange the inspection?
    Originally posted by G_M
    Apparently a dead chicken, not like one you get at Tesco but a feathered dead one. A local farmer said he put a dead fox in his, something about bacteria... I've no idea, sounds gross to me!

    He said he would get a professional company to confirm location and get something in writing and it inspected. I'm completely confused. I've spent hours reading about sh*t - literally
    • pinklady21
    • By pinklady21 12th Jan 18, 7:53 PM
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    pinklady21
    I moved to a house with a septic tank a few years ago - and also had concerns about the drainage. It is an old brick tank probably about the same age as the house. We knew where the inspection cover was, and had a look down it (showed nothing more than a big black hole...) but could not locate the route of the soakaway. However, since being here I have learned not to be too concerned about STs. As they depend on the appropriate balance of bacteria to work properly, you take care what you put down your loo and sinks- reduced levels of bleach etc. Anything that might interfere or kill off the bacteria is a no no.
    Other than that, if it is working, we leave it alone. Have not had it emptied in the 6 years we have had it, and no issues. In fact, we were also told not to bother emptying it. And that the old fashioned brick ones are superior to the newer plastic ones.
    So- what would I do in your situation?
    Exactly what you are proposing, go and take a look round the garden and see if you can locate the tank cover. Probably a concrete slab of some sort, but could be metal.
    Look back to the house - where would the logical route for the drainage be? Are there any inspection points along the way - that might indicate a change in direction.
    Look for lush vegetation - that might indicate where the outfall is.
    Flush the toilets in the house - do they flush OK - anything untoward coming back? If you can find an inspection cover for the drains, you could flush the loo and get someone else to watch the open drain and see what comes past.
    If you get the drains inspected, they might try and put some dye down the loos or sinks and see where it emerges and how long it takes.
    Are there any neighbouring houses built at the same time? Would the pattern of their drainage be similar? Presumably the tank is individual to the house you are buying?
    Lastly - if it was built in the 1970's, would the local Council have any plans on file - either planning or building control? They may have archived them, or destroyed them of course. But if they exist, then then these might have a drainage plan on them.
    There might be something with the Title Deeds as well.
    I hope this is helpful - and good luck with your Great ST Hunt!
    • sheramber
    • By sheramber 12th Jan 18, 8:16 PM
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    sheramber
    Our neighbour- a crofter- put a dead sheep in his to start it.

    Road kill is also used.
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 12th Jan 18, 9:51 PM
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    lovehols
    There are some cottage style properties the other side of the canal, although I'm not sure of their set up. There is a lot of garden and a wooded area which is quite overgrown so it may just be very well hidden.

    There is also another potential problem which is around where the effluent may be going and particular if it is ending up in a watercourse, e.g. the canal which runs adjacent to the property. If so, and I hope not, then this has to be replaced by 2020 or when the property is sold, so I think the seller would have some responsibility to sort. https://www.wte-ltd.co.uk/septic_tank_general_binding_rules_2020.html
    Last edited by lovehols; 12-01-2018 at 9:55 PM. Reason: Edit
    • agrinnall
    • By agrinnall 13th Jan 18, 9:08 AM
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    agrinnall

    There is also another potential problem which is around where the effluent may be going and particular if it is ending up in a watercourse, e.g. the canal which runs adjacent to the property.
    Originally posted by lovehols
    I don't know what the situation is in England but when I sold my property I had to include confirmation from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency that the run off from the septic tank was acceptable to them - luckily it had been tested not long before so I didn't need to pay for it to be re-done.
    • Alter ego
    • By Alter ego 13th Jan 18, 10:31 AM
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    Alter ego
    I lived in a property for 10 years (2004-14) that had a septic tank serving 6 properties, and it was never emptied in that time. Emptying annually would have been an awful waste of money.
    Originally posted by agrinnall
    I agree, but I googled and found a regulation on a government site saying annually. Will try to find it again and give a reference.
    Ignore me if you like, it's not the real me anyway.
    • theartfullodger
    • By theartfullodger 13th Jan 18, 10:41 AM
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    theartfullodger
    We can't find the Septic Tank?
    Originally posted by lovehols
    You will when it overflows.....
    • DigForVictory
    • By DigForVictory 13th Jan 18, 11:02 AM
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    DigForVictory
    Quit making nice.
    Either ask to see the invoice of the last cleaning thereof, phone the business & ask them if they will (a) confirm the job was done & (b) tell you the location of the tank.

    Or tell the vendor to show you, now, or the sale is off & you'll be speaking to the estate agent about other proprieties rather than waste any more money.

    All the work you've put in so far is experience gained if you don't know your drainage, and a septic tank is a very special addition to the family.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 13th Jan 18, 11:24 AM
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    Davesnave
    I agree, but I googled and found a regulation on a government site saying annually. Will try to find it again and give a reference.
    Originally posted by Alter ego
    It's not a regulation; it's a recommendation on many web-sites.

    But no one knows your tank or your usage, so it's a very conservative sort of guide figure.

    If a tank eventually fills right up, then the excess material, including solids, will go over the weir at the lower end of the tank and soon fill the pipes leading to and within the drainage field. Then a new one of those will be needed.

    I get my huge tank done every 2 years or so. As it's big, it's never completely empty. It's better leaving some. People with tanks don't pay sewerage charges, so there's nowt to complain about.

    In the OP's case I'd say it should be straghtforward finding the tank, if correctly dressed and with vegetation-clearing equipment. I couldn't hide mine at this time of year!
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
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