Septic tank ... smell – Property & Real Estate – Expats Portugal Community Forum
Share:
Notifications
Clear all

Please feel free to view our Forum, but you must either LOGIN or REGISTER to join in the conversation.

Septic tank ... smell

18 Posts
5 Users
20 Likes
96 Views
Posts: 252
Premium Member
Topic starter
(@itexpert7)
Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi everyone, at our 25 year old dream house which we would like to buy, something interesting happened today!
It just started raining, and the kitchen got suddenly and quickly very smelly (sewer smell), as did all the bathrooms!
Before you say that the traps were dried out, the house is in constant use as a rental house and was fully occupied the past week.
The (British) agent said the house has a septic tank with 3 chambers, and that this "never happened before"!
Does anyone had such experiences? We wondering if this is a common problem, in which case we should walk away!

Topic Tags
17 Replies




Posts: 735
Admin
(@gerry)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Sounds like the tank is overdue to be emptied. 

Reply
3 Replies
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Member
Posts: 307

@gerry that was my first thought - but I find it odd that rain has triggered this.  As a rule, run-off, gutters/drains, etc shouldn't feed into the septic tank, but for the smell to be sudden, I wonder whether this is happening, pushing up the level suddenly?

 

Reply
Admin
(@jonesdn2020)
Joined: 1 year ago

Illustrious Member
Posts: 1062

@thomasribatejo 

Could be a combination of the tanks being due for service and the rain causing the leach field to stop working. I would check the leach field area for standing water or mud. 

Reply
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Member
Posts: 307

@jonesdn2020 that makes sense, though the suddenness is still odd... 

Also, we rarely find anything resembling a coherent leach field here - I won't go into the horror stories (septic tanks under living areas; septic tanks immediately above wells or food-crop-growing areas...)

If considering buying this property, it would be sensible to get independent insight into the setup, and perhaps factor in replacement to your contingency.  Emptying the tank might well sort it for now, but it sounds like this will recur before too long, whatever anyone with a vested interest in selling the place might tell you.

Reply




Posts: 2632
Community Member
(@martin)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posted by: @itexpert7

that this "never happened before"!

ahh one of the great "chestnuts" of the world - shock! horror, Portuguese drains giving trouble and smelling! Shurely shom mestake!

Caused mostly because soil pipes in portugal are not vented so the smell goes back to whence it came.

indeed, the septic tanks might be full, but with modern living, washing machines etc they will be full again - soon. You might check around the septic tank area - if it is an abundant green lush area would indicate that the tanks are overflowing.

my father was an architect, used to say with building you only got once chance, make a mistake and the owner will get the problem and might not be able to solve it ever - think how even when they make a million cars - they still come off the production line with faults, as the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said , if the architect makes a mistake then the only hope is plant ivy and hope it grows quickly

how to solve it might mean a lot of work relaying drains etc - if it's your dream villa then might be worth the effort

Reply
6 Replies
Premium Member
(@itexpert7)
Joined: 2 years ago

Member
Posts: 252

@martin @ThomasRibatejo
The strange thing is, that there is a bald area at the end of the land with not much vegetation, just flat earth. I asked if they used weedkillers for that area they said no. Then I noticed that there is this pipe just ending there with water coming out.
I asked in writing and they finally said it's the "run off" overflow from the 3 chamber septic tank and that is normal. It didn't smell when I saw it.
So do I assume that this area (where we were planning to make a vegetable garden) is poisoned from 25 years of septic tank flow with endless shampoos, cleaning liquids etc? Therefore not suitable for planting veggies, as not much seems to grow there?
Photo attached.

Reply
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Member
Posts: 307

@itexpert7 are all elements of the tank in that area?  That would explain lack of vegetation, you wouldn't want anything planted where roots could interfere etc.  It's hard to be sure without understanding the whole place, and inspecting.  I would advise getting someone who understands the kind of system you have, to check it out.  Many Portuguese septic tanks are much more basic than the three-chamber type you're describing - yours may be much better, and fine with some minor issue sorted.  

Reply
Premium Member
(@itexpert7)
Joined: 2 years ago

Member
Posts: 252

@thomasribatejo 
Thanks, I still wait to be told where the septic tank is, I've asked several times.
At the same time, they are pressuring to sign the promissory this weekend!

Reply
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Member
Posts: 307

@itexpert7 unless it's an unmissable dream house with a verified queue, do not sign until you have had any doubts sorted (or - and it's rare to achieve this - had legally valid clauses written into the promissory by a lawyer).  Someone must know where it is, for goodness' sake!

Recently, we inspected a property where it had been completely covered with a petanque court, in such a way that it could not be accessed without removing inches of gravel, a planted border, then plastic sheeting...

Logically, it'll be on the gradient between the house and the area you identified, if not actually at that location.  

Reply
Community Member
(@martin)
Joined: 17 years ago

Member
Posts: 2632

@itexpert7 

dont sign!

Reply
Admin
(@jonesdn2020)
Joined: 1 year ago

Illustrious Member
Posts: 1062

@itexpert7 Overflow? That makes me wonder what size septic system was installed. Hopefully, the plumbing was not expanded in the home after the initial design of the septic system. 

When we submitted plans for expanding plumbing, they also reviewed the sewer/septic specs to make sure it could handle the additional plumbing.

Reply




Posts: 2632
Community Member
(@martin)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Reply
2 Replies
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 5 years ago

Member
Posts: 307

@martin yep, vent pipes are not standard here, but usually easy to fit.

Reply
Admin
(@jonesdn2020)
Joined: 1 year ago

Illustrious Member
Posts: 1062

@martin Nice link. Brings back memories.

It was becoming common practice in the US to pay for Drain Inspection & CCTV Drain Surveys - UKDN Waterflow (LG) when buying older homes. The cost to replace sewer lines under a concrete foundation is quite expensive. 

An alternative to venting was installing an AAV which was also mentioned in your link. Here is the installation process of an AAV. Installing an Air Admittance Valve: Everything You Should Know | Hunker

Reply




Posts: 2632
Community Member
(@martin)
Member
Joined: 17 years ago

well the great thing is that least if its on your land you can solve it yourself - compared to one friend who was  in a ground floor apartment in albufeira. Came a time when somewhere all the drains became blocked and all the floors above their place,  that sewerage came into flooding into friends apartment every time the toilets were flushed above them. No one could find the problem and the manager of the block was so nasty  "eh your problemo" - eventually they found that the manhole cover and blockage had been  built under a staircase with no access. Cost 30 years ago over 1000 to fix...now dread to think the cost!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply
1 Reply
Community Member
(@martin)
Joined: 17 years ago

Member
Posts: 2632

an example of why drains block 

 

Reply




Page 1 / 2

To post a reply, sign up and become a member!

Premium

By becoming a valued Premium Member today, your support will help the team continue to bring you useful content about life in Portugal. You can also:

JOIN TODAYOnly €25 per year

Share:

Join our community for Free, or subscribe for exclusive member-only content, support and hundreds of €’s in savings

Your membership comes with a 14-day, no-risk, money back guarantee. Love it or we’ll refund your money.

Community Member

Full access to our community Forum
FREE
  • Full access to community Forum

Premium Member

Exclusive member-only content
€97 Year
  • Full access to community Forum
  • Browse the forum advertising-free (only see our partners)
  • Unlock your ‘12 part Moving to Portugal" guide
  • Guaranteed entry to our webinars
  • Savings & freebies from our partners
  • Receive community support
  • Personal email support
  • Receive exclusive video content
  • And help us grow this website and community
Popular

Premium Plus

  • We are no longer taking applicants for this program
  • Look out for new features on our new site coming soon

Copyright © 2022 Expats Portugal

Marketing by Unity Online