Septic tank advice

We have a fosse septique that doesn’t conform to current standards and which we hope to have replaced shortly. In the meantime though we have a problem with it. it seems as though the water isn’t draining off like it should, and the tank fills every few weeks. If possible we’d like the current problem diagnosed and cleared as we’re uncertain about when the new one will be installed. There is no end of people who design, build, fit install and generally give advice on, but we haven’t managed to find anyone who can sort them out when things go wrong. Does anyone know of a company that does this? We live a few kilometres from St. Jean d’Angely (17) and any advice would be very welcome.

Hi Tim and welcome to the forum.

Just a few questions, to set the scene.

Is this property newly acquired or something you have lived with over the years?

How do you know the Fosse does not conform ? has it been surveyed recently by SPANC.

Do you know where the fosse drains to?? Is it possible that the pipes have become blocked or damaged in some way ???

Personally, my first port of call would be SPANC - they are the experts.

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Is it possible that the drainage problem is at least one of the reasons for the non-conformity???

You are hoping to replace the fosse, shortly … I suspect it might be cheaper to get going with that sooner rather than later and save money on interim half-measures.

Thanks for getting back to me.

  We bought the house last October. The fosse didn't conform, and

we made the purchase on the basis that we would replace it within
twelve months, which we are trying to do.

  We're not entirely sure where it drains to, and the report from

SPANC says than they couldn’t find anywhere either. Since then
we’ve managed to find a puits perdu in the garden which may be
relevant, but we just don’t know. Also, it may be a blocked pipe,
but we can’t see where the outlet is in the tank. Hence the appeal
for someone who knows what they’re talking about!

Kind regards


The puit perdu is the old-fashioned simple soakaway for the fosse and (I suspect) it is probably not up to the job any more.

If you reduce your water usage - the fosse won’t fill up so quickly… and redirect drainpipes into water butts - great for the garden.

has an order been placed for a replacement?

Sorry, am I missing something? Our fosse IS full, all the time. It’s meant to be. Do you mean it’s overflowing?

It has overflowed and looks likely to do so again. We’ve pumped off excess water but are looking for a more durable short term fix.

We’re waiting for estimates and are anxious to get on with it, but it’s likely to be months before the work is done

Tim - you may have to treat it as a Septic Tank rather than a fosse. Thus, this will need emptying on a regular basis, depending on the amount of water going into it.

Is the puit perdu dry??? and how far away from the fosse ??? is it too difficult to fit a temporary pipe into the puit perdu ?

As a temporary measure would it be possible to get your grey water piped away elsewhere and only have your black water go into the fosse?

I would have thought that allowing foul water to seep into the soil was illegal tbh.
It could contaminate the water table/underground courses and there are significant penalties for doing so.
Do the people you have consulted for a quote know just how serious your issue is and could they propose interim measures?

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When we had a blockage the “vidangeur” we called out was very helpful in trying to unblock it. I’m surprised if you’ve used a vidangeur that when he’s emptied and flushed the tank that you can’t see an outlet that he could then try unblocking for you.

The SPANC is the local expert. If he doesn’t find the septic tank, there is some methods you can use to find it.
Concerning the different solutions you can ask the SPANC for a list of available products on the market that could suit your needs. You can also check online for alternatives : reeds, compact filters, wastewater treatment plants.

We had a problem with ours and so decided to have it emptied by a company. The chap unblocked it, emptied and a few days later we got paperwork through the post offering us insurance at €4 a month in case we had problems again. We haven’t. We are in dept. 72.

Many thanks to everyone who has responded to my original posting. However, my original question was does anyone know of anyone fairly local to where we live who can give on the spot advice and possibly suggest a temporary solution prior to getting a new tank installed? The problem is that without actually looking at it, it’s difficult to be able to diagnose exactly what the problem is. SPANC, unfortunately, have not been helpful, and we’ve already had the existing system completely pumped out.
Thanks to a neighbour we’ve managed to track down a general builder who’s offered some helpful ideas, and hopefully we’ll jointly be able to look for any blockages some time this week.
The helpful responses have been gratefully received, but to repeat my earlier point, there seems to be a bit of a skills shortage, professionally speaking, in this area.