8 things to know before buying a house with a septic tank in Scotland

Most of Scotland’s residents are hooked up to the public water and sewerage supplies. This means when you flush your toilet or pour water down the sink, it goes into the drains underground and is whisked away where *checks notes * fairies wave a wand and make it clean again. Or something like that anyway. But if you are buying a house with a septic tank in Scotland, this means you will not have access to these drains or sewers, and so will rely on the septic tank to deal with your waste.

If you have never had a septic tank before you might worry about what it is and how to maintain it. So here are 8 things to consider before you buy.

1. You don’t have to get your hands dirty

Although the septic tank is yours, and it needs to be maintained, you don’t have to do any of this yourself. In fact, we highly recommend you don’t even open it! Gasses can build up in a tank, especially one that hasn’t been properly looked after, and so if it is opened carelessly these gasses can be a problem to the person breathing them in. 

2. Septic tanks do need regular maintenance

Get the experts involved (like us!) and we can come and assess your tank. We’ll be able to let you know if it needs emptied (or if not, when it will) and have a look for any obvious problems. Most tanks need at least an annual empty, but this depends on its size and how many people are using it regularly.

Infographic on how septic tanks work with a view underneath a house.

3. Learn where your drainage is (and don’t park on it)

In a septic tank, solid waste sinks to the bottom and it is this which needs to be removed by a company like us. Wastewater, however, is eventually discharged from the tank into the ground, where it is further broken down by the soil as it rejoins the waterways. 

Make sure you know where the water discharge area is. It’s important that you don’t use this ground for anything else, including a car parking spot, shed or secret hideout.

4. Watch out for smells

When a septic tank is performing properly, you might not even notice it’s there. However, if you can smell something foul around your tank or the drainage area then it means something isn’t right and you should order an inspection. 

5. Septic tank registration in Scotland

All septic tanks in Scotland must be registered with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). Before you buy a property, it is wise to check that any septic tank is registered with them. You can do this on SEPA’s website

6. Check who uses your septic tank

Before buying a property which uses a septic tank, make sure you know who uses it. Do you own it yourself, or is it shared ownership with neighbours? Both options are absolutely fine, but agreeing on necessary work can be made more difficult when the decision doesn’t lay entirely in your hands. 

A septic tank underneath a house.

7. You won’t have to pay the council for sewerage services!

This is a bit you will certainly enjoy! As you are not connected to the sewers, you won’t have that charge added to your council tax bill (so make sure you aren’t paying it by accident). 

8. Be careful what you flush

Just like any other toilet, you should never flush things like nappies, cotton buds or cigarette butts down your toilet. These will quickly block the pipes in and around your septic tank and cause huge problems for you.

However, in addition to these, there are a few other materials that you might not immediately see as a problem. Cooking grease including oil should never go down your drain as they can clump together and make ‘fatbergs’, causing blockages. You should also avoid flushing unused prescription drugs, whether you have a septic tank or are connected to sewers. That’s because the drug ingredients will likely end up in the rivers and groundwater, eventually finding their way into wildlife. This can have a devastating effect on nature. The same goes for petrol, antifreeze and paint thinners. Instead, these can be disposed of at your local recycling centre

No-stress septic tank management

So there you have it. 8 things to know before buying a house with a septic tank in Scotland. And not a single magical fairy involved! If you want to know more about how to best take care of your tank, or give it a clean, just get in touch with us and we’ll help you out