Septic tank not used for years do we need to clean it? – Property & Real Estate – Expats Portugal Community Forum
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Septic tank not used for years do we need to clean it?


Posts: 15
Community Member
Topic starter
(@kiukkien)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago

Hi,

we're interested in buying a house with a "fossa septica" that has not been used for more than 10 years...does anyone know if we need to clean it before using it? The owner says they never needed to clean it but well...he's the one selling the house therefore....in addition, usually do you get it cleaned/emptied regularly every year or do you usually clean it/emtpy it based on needs?

 

thanks!

6 Replies

Posts: 106
Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasandmatthew)
Member
Joined: 4 years ago

Have you had a chance to look into it (in the literal sense)?

Some are formal tanks; some are older style, designed to filter and then leak the excess liquid out into the surrounding soil. Size also varies a lot.  As a result, everyone's experience may be different, and much of it not relevant to your tank.

You won't know which it is without looking, or seeing pictures, unfortunately. If it's the former type, then you'd need it emptying every now and then, and the local water company usually arranges this (often on a kind of subscription basis - once, twice, four times per year)

If it's the latter, it's probably a case of checking it every now and then, but leaving well alone unless it appears very full.

As an example, ours (from the 80s?) is made of standard red breeze-type blocks (tijolo furado), and it's large (you could stand up in it, and probably lie across it - though I won't be testing this out!).  Every few rows, some of the blocks are at 90 degrees, so that they allow liquid out.  It doesn't seem to smell, fill up much, or indeed have much evidence of paper etc.

I would suggest you only put toilet paper, and products marked as suitable for septic tanks, down the drains - this can be hard to remember if you've been cleaning with bleach, say, where some people would tip the bucket down the loo...

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Community Member
(@kiukkien)
Joined: 3 months ago

Active Member
Posts: 15

@thomasandmatthew

Hi Thomas,

thank you for your reply. We didn't have a chance to check it, we will probably do it next week...I have the feeling that it might be an older style tank but I might be wrong. Regarding bleach, can I use it if I don't throw it down the loo but down the sink or is it going to end out in the same place?...Apologies for the stupid question but we never had a tank before...

thanks again! 😀 

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Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasandmatthew)
Joined: 4 years ago

Member
Posts: 106

@kiukkien I think the bleach thing will depend on the tank construction, and how rapidly/if it drains. As the other respondent notes, it may be separated from the dirtier stuff so not affect that process, but one way or another, it's likely to get into the ground. If it's very small quantities, going into large volumes, and it was diluted for use, then it's probably not a big deal. It's used like water here, but for almost every purpose, something less aggressive works as well.

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Posts: 55
 QBV
VIP Member
(@bon-ventos)
Trusted Member
Joined: 13 years ago

Hopefully you have inspections chambers at intervals heading to the fossa. If you have double feeds in them, one should be Black water (from toilets) and the other grey water from showers/sinks etc. if this is the case, only the black water goes to the 'business' tank and the grey water goes straight to the drainage tank, so bleach down the sinks is not such an issue -but still leeching out into the surrounding soil.

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Ask Our Expats Consultant
(@thomasandmatthew)
Joined: 4 years ago

Member
Posts: 106

Yep, that's the theory!

Older tanks were the first improvement from literal holes in the ground - before the late 80s, our place had no plumbing or drainage whatsoever. So one big tank, with all pipes going into each other and then into the tank; and no inspection panels other than the one over the tank - huge improvement! All the properties around here have similar, unofficial, DIY type setups. They work fine, in practice, thank goodness.

Unless you know when/how/by whom the setup was put in, then as with plumbing and electrics, don't assume any good practice or legislation was followed!

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Community Member
(@kiukkien)
Joined: 3 months ago

Active Member
Posts: 15

@thomasandmatthew and @bon-ventos

OK, now it is much clearer! thank you so much guys! 😀 no bleach for me then 😉

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