Septic tanks are quite common in rural parts of the UK, including East Anglia, where properties aren’t connected to the main sewage system. Gilson Environmental Services, who are experts in septic tank installation, operate from bases in Ipswich in Suffolk and Harleston in Norfolk. Here are our five top tips for making sure that your tank works to its fullest potential and that you aren’t hit with any unexpected problems.


Be Economical with Your Water

The average septic tank needs to cope with a lot more water compared to 20 or 30 years ago. If waste water is constantly flowing into your tank, this will reduce the amount of time it has to break down solid waste. So you should take steps to ensure your water usage is as economical as possible.

Steps you can take include:

  • Not overloading or underloading your washing machine or dishwasher
  • Making sure you fix all dripping taps and toilet cisterns
  • Having showers rather than baths – preferably using a low-flow one and not a power shower
  • Recycling waste water by using it on your garden’s plants
  • Using aerators on taps
  • Fitting a dual flush lavatory which uses the minimum amount of water required
  • Turning the tap off when cleaning your teeth.


Be Careful What You Flush Away…

One of the quickest ways you can clog up your septic tank is to flush items other than human waste or toilet paper down your lavatory. Cat litter, disposable nappies, tampons and paper towels should all go in a conventional waste bin, even if you have a dual flush toilet.


…and What You Wash Away

You should also take care when it comes to your kitchen sink. It is essential to avoid pouring any grease, oil, paints or food crumbs down its plughole, as these will end up in your kitchen drain and reduce the efficiency of your septic tank. The only items which you should be disposing of via the sink are biodegradable products – and water!


Protect the Surrounding Area

It is also vital to be careful with the environment around the septic tank. Don’t plant any trees within 30 metres, while those with aggressive roots like willows and poplars should be even further away. The tank’s drainage fields should also be kept clear of any potential obstructions, so don’t be tempted to cover these with a driveway or parking area, as this can affect the tank’s efficiency.

There have also been changes to the regulations regarding septic tank and sewage treatment plant discharges, so owners need to take care. You can read all about the latest legislation – the General Binding Rules – via this link.

These regulations were updated in October 2023 and you can find out more about this here.


Call in the Experts

If you do have a problem with your septic tank, then don’t be tempted to try to repair it yourself. The gases and chemicals which are present in the tanks can be extremely harmful and, in some cases, toxic, so it is best left to the professionals.

At Gilson Environmental Services, we offer a comprehensive range of septic tank treatment services to customers in and around Ipswich and throughout Suffolk and Norfolk. We can commission and install a new treatment system which will be tailored to fit your individual needs, as we are not tied to any particular manufacturer or brand. Our aftercare includes a 24-hour breakdown and repair service.

If you want to know more, you can get in touch either by following this link and filling in the online form, by emailing us on, or by calling us on 01473 741530.