Drainage sleuths clean up septic tank effluent mystery

A couple can let their children play in the garden once more after Lanes drainage engineers solved a long-term mystery about why their septic tank was not working properly.

Other contractors had visited the house near Aberdeen to try to work out why sewage was seeping into the family garden resulting in a large part of it being out of bounds as a place to play.

It was only when drainage engineers from the Lanes Aberdeen depot did some proper digging that the cause of the problem was identified and a long-term solution was put in place.

Mark Morrice, Area Development Manager for Lanes Aberdeen, said: “This was a great result for an issue that had been troubling our client and diminishing the quality of their home life for a very long time.

“The solution was relatively simple. It was the expertise and insight we could draw on within the Lanes Aberdeen team during the investigation process that led to a solution that made the real difference.

“It’s a mantra we have at Lanes Aberdeen, based on the principle that we never assume a quick fix is all that’s required. We call it our three Ss – survey, scope and solve. It reflects the gold standard service we aim to deliver at Lanes.”

Part of the garden had become a waterlogged and was giving off bad smells, which made the couple believe something was wrong with their septic tank. The question was what?

A Lanes Aberdeen CCTV drainage survey team, supported by a jet vac team, drained the septic tank and surveyed its 150mm diameter outflow pipe with a push-rod drainage camera.

That revealed a point where the pipe had collapsed, blocking the flow of wastewater. The team used a transmitter device called a sonde to identify the route taken by the pipe and the location of the collapse.

This led the Lanes team out of the customer’s property and to a point in the car park of an adjacent school. With the school’s permission, an excavation was carried out, revealing the badly damaged pipe.

Lanes drainage engineers installed a new section of pipe. Wastewater from the septic tank began to flow freely again and the couple, and their children, could look forward to fully using their garden once more.

The immediate cause of the problem may have been solved, but Mark Morrice and Lanes Aberdeen Contracts Manager Neil Biggerstaff had been concerned about where the pipe ended up. Were there more problems further along the line?

So they attended site with a CCTV drainage survey team to investigate further, and found that the customer’s outfall pipe joined on to the outfall pipe from the school’s septic tank in a blind connection.

A blind connection is where two drainage pipes are joined together without the installation of an inspection chamber to allow both pipe runs to be accessed to carry out inspections or pipe cleaning.

The pipes had been installed in this way before the couple had moved into the property and did not represent good practice.

The solution, agreed by Lanes’ customers and the school, was to carry out a second excavation and install a new inspection chamber, so any further problems could be easily investigated and solved.

Neil Biggerstaff said: “Effluent from our customers’ septic tank was being discharged into the school’s drainage field. We had a hunch it was worth looking a little further and installing the new inspection point is a positive step for our customer and the school.”

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