How to Correctly Maintain Your Septic Tank and Soakaway

The biggest mistake that most people make when installing a septic tank is thinking that they can forget about it. Just like any other aspect of your home, routine maintenance of your drainage system is going to keep it working efficiently for longer, reducing the likelihood of any nasty blockages.

This article should serve you as a guide in both the installation of a septic tank as well as its subsequent maintenance.

Blocked Sewers and Backed up Drains

Septic tanks usually fail after periods of bad weather featuring heavy rainfall. This abundance of water can see septic tanks overflowing as well as effluent waste appearing at ground level and seeping into ditches.

These problems are commonly caused by the soakaway itself which eventually fails to do its job; drain away excess water.

Because of this, a soakaway should never just be hole in the ground filled with stones as these are only suitable for surface water. Instead, a soakaway should be constructed from a drainfield of perforated pipes which have been laid in parallel trenches.

Additional signs of failure include:

  • Strong odours rising from the septic tank or your drains
  • The pollution of nearby watercourses with effluent waste
  • Toilets within your property that are slow to flush
  • Ground movement near the soakaway or septic tank
  • An overflowing toilet, shower or bath after use

Correct Installation

Septic tank soakaways need to be installed within the aerobic layer of soil. This soil features oxygen present within the air spaces and can only be found within the first metre of soil below ground.

The job of a soakaway is to not only remove excess liquid but also to help in its digestion through aerobic soil bacteria that relies on the presence of oxygen.

If the soakaway is deper than a metre below ground, it will be sitting within the anaerobic layer of soil. This is less than ideal because anaerobic bacteria create a by-product in the form of black sludge when digesting waste, with a tendency to block drainage pipework.

Finally, your septic tank needs to be fitted correctly and not back to front. If it is, your outlet pipe will usually be higher than your inlet pipe, guaranteeing failure.


Although large in size, septic tanks have a finite capacity. Every domestic septic tank will need to be emptied at least every 12 months. Failure to do so will again result in blockages and backed up pipework that could overflow directly into your home.

If you’re having trouble with your septic tank, or any aspect of your foul or storm sewer isn’t working as it should, you need to get in contact with a drainage expert. Any good plumbing company will be able to unblock your drains and prevent the problem from reoccurring. For assistance with blocked sewers in Melbourne, consult your local directory or ask around for a word of mouth recommendation. Make sure you act today to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Blocked sewers and drains can be stressful but with the right advice, you should be on your way to once again enjoying your home.

Leave a Reply