Nothing like a good clearout! Advice Please

SFN Friends

We've acquired a home near Bourganeuf (Creuse) in 2012. The neighbours have politely advised us that the fosse has not been emptied for at least 20 years and have strongly recommended we get it pumped out.

Can any of you please advise a local Limousin service we can rely upon?

Many thanks.

you're qute rightof course but in the early days of brits property buying in the 80s/90s (which I was involved in) it was quite normal to find poperties purchased by brits that had been closed down and disused for years, even decades and the 'crust' had become truly solidified- the only option was to have it pumped out and in extreme cases change the tank completely - things have changed and properties are more likely to need regular maintenence ie 'feeding' with microbes or re-activating the system or even physically breaking the crust - the grease trap (if fitted) shouldn't be forgotten of course - many modern tanks have filters that need to be cleaned monthly according to the instruction manual - depends on the system you have inherited obviously

didn't realise there was a 4 year law though, things have obviously changed since my involvement in such matters

Yes providing your local farmer can fulfil the documentary evidence required by SPANC as to where your effluent was disposed of. I'd prefer to conform to the norms required.

there are many ways to get the fosse septique emptied (if it needs emptying that is - depends on the type of fosse and the last time it was used on a frequent basis etc)

the expensive way is to contact a professional from the Pages Jaunes or the cheaper alternative is to ask the local farmer to do it for you - most have the necessary equipment needed

If you bought the house in 2012 it should have been subject to the regulation that a fosse report was provided -done in the three years prior to the property being offered for sale. The notaire should have picked this up, although as a new owner any item deemed to be outside the regulations would have to have been attended to within your first year of ownership.

The drainage authorities should have by now inspected all the systems in your area whether or not the property is being sold and they look for a facture proving vidange within the previous 4 years - so the advice to have it emptied asap is good.

As Brian has said it seems likely that your old fosse will not comply in all respects with current regulations.

When you do eventually get an inspection and report - now being classed as an existing owner - you will have 4 years to put it right unless it is causing a hazard to health.

Good luck!

you could try the Bio shock treatments to kick start the system.. better than chucking dead critters in the pot before going thru us :)..

we bought our home in 2006, it hadn't been in use for a year and we haven't had a diagnostics report or inspection with, nor since the purchase.. the history of our poo pot wasn't given at the time of purchase, so we expected problems.. it takes all the water of the house and at present is working fine over 6 yrs on.. however, i do get a litle conderned when t.o.h says " the loo isn't flushing properly"..

well, with half a loo roll down it.. i'm not surprised!!!.. mr plunger has a ducking and all's well again.. but tere will come the day...

The house was repossessed by the Bank in 2008, the water and electricity were cut off previously in 2005 and they could not locate the fosse for the details in the sale, such was the state of the overgrown brambles. We know we are looking to having to replace it but just need a bit of time before we do.

Except if the house stood empty for years after, for instance, the last owner dying and family not having found or kept the receipt/certificate. My wife says that is not at all uncommon. Then the notaire would have let it go.

Depends when you bought, but this ought to have been covered in the sale fo the house. It is obligatory that a fosse is emptied or has a certificate saying so, at the moment of sale. Check out with the immobiliere and the notaire.

You might also consider installing a 'bac degraisseur', if any water from wash basin, kitchen sink, washing machine or the likes are connected (should not be but too often are) to the fosse then that compounds your problems. That will need a simple clean out each month or so to remove fatty deposits that, if they go into the fosse, damage the bio function and also take the overflow from the fosse. If done properly, after going a fairly short distance through a filter bed in the ground, the water should go into a stream more or less clean. You will need to carefully check all of your outflow pipes, some people are really devious installing illegal inflows to fosses. Do as Ben says, using Tarax, Eparcyl or whichever you choose and chuck a dose in the bac every time you clean it, about once a year a single dose of Tarax or similar into the the tank rather than the receptor. The dead animal trick is not clever since whilst it seems to work according to folklore, the potential for a major overflow block and then big trouble is on the way. It sounds like your fosse is (no longer) regulation, like very many houses, so do not let anything happen that is going to cause you big problems and an even larger bill. Get a vidangeur in quick. Make sure you have the bill and certificate for officialdom and insurance, if anything happens after the clean out and make sure that the company refill it - if not the smell for several months alone may make you wish to move a couple of hundred km away!

After a number of years of non-occupancy your fosse's bacterial life will die off completely and needs to be restarted, (Some advice to throw a dead chicken directly into the tank but ermm...)

If these things as you describe happen you're more likely to face anew fosse sceptique... When did you buy the property? I posted some advice regarding the legal issues on this blog earlier onPete Thomas'es thread.....

Many thanks, David.

Got it - vidangeurs fosses septiques.

We know where the fosse is - we've not ventured to remove either of the lids.

It's a 1950's built house with a man-made fosse, built as part of the external foundations of the house, with a mezzanine toilet built on top of it.

We'll let you know back here how we get on early in 2013.

Many thanks for the advice, Ben.

Neighbours have reported faecal material travelling down the chemin in a stream when the last owner was here 5-6 years ago, so we're a little concerned.

We'll contact Sanitra Fourier and feedback in the future here.

If you know where your fosse septique is. Remove cover , get long stick, prod to bottom of fosse. If faecal deposit (shit ) is more than 30% up the stick then call for a vidange. The vidangeur should (is required by law) to give you a receipt/certificate stating that he has emptied the fosse and where he has disposed of the contents.

Oddly many vidangeurs are also the people who supply domestic fioul. If you know the volume of your fosse, generally around 3000litres for a fosse toutes eaux then ask two or three vidangeurs fosses septiques for a devis and take the most economical. The vidangeur should refll the fosse.

If you're toilet isn't blocked and it doesn't smell like fermenting sh*t around the house then don't empty it, it's a system that can go a long way without being emptied. Use every week sachet of Tarax or thelike.

If you do get it emptied however, don't forget to fill the "cuve" entirely with water immediately afterwards and add a 6 month dose of Tarax (or thelikes). Pro's I used to empty a fosse are Sanitra Fourrier, also available in the Creuse dept.Costs depend on the volume of the waste extracted, but anything between 200 and 500 euros