Tips on using a septic tanks in France – Fosse septic
Septic tanks in France take all the grey water from the kitchen and bathroom, as well as sewage from the lavatory. The main thing to remember about the system is that it is a living organism, so you have to be very careful about cleaning products that you might use.
Looking after the tank
Make sure you use only toilet paper and cleaning products that specifically say ‘sans danger pour fosses septiques’ on the packet. Septic tank safe toilet paper can be found in any supermarket. It looks the same as ordinary toilet roll, but tends to be slightly thinner and contains no perfume.
You really cannot flush moist toilet paper, baby wipes or sanitary products down a septic tank because they are not biodegradable – use disposal bags and put in the bin. Do not use too much toilet roll either as this can choke the tank. Never rinse any product containing eau Javel or bleach down the toilet, bath or sink.
You can use small amounts of bleach in your sinks, by being very careful. Put the plug in, wipe round the sink with a small amount of bleach, then leave it overnight before rinsing in the morning.
You also should not use disinfectants like Dettol or similar types at all in sinks, baths or toilets, Instead you may find cleaning alcohol useful for cleaning the toilet seat and lid, taps.
Cleaning alcohol comes in two main types in France, alcohol à bruler and is unscented, and the more expensive alcohol à menager with added perfumes. Wipe down your toilet seat and lid, and wipe it dry with kitchen roll, which can then go in the waste bin. It is best not to use a cloth or a sponge which then have to be rinsed into the sink.;
For cleaning sinks and baths, and also unclogging smelly pipes, you could try washing soda. This is better than constantly using cleaners such as Cif. Washing soda is called Cristaux de soude in French.
For cleaning floors and walls, you can use any of the common bactericidal floor cleaners, but pour these outside on the garden, not down the sink. For cleaning kitchen work surfaces, use either unscented cleaning alcohol or white vinegar,It is best to bleach clothes in a bucket before putting them in a washing machine, then throw the water on the garden, away from any plants.
Feeding you septic tank
A brand called Eparcyl in France is a septic tank feeder containing yeasts and bacteria that keep the tank alive. You will find instructions on how often to use it on the packet. Sachets are usually used weekly and the liquid every three months.
If you have killed the tank
If you accidentally kill off the tank which can happen through using the wrong products do not worry, as you can buy a complete re-starter kit However, with careful management, this should not be necessary. Supermarkets tend not to stock this product, but you will find it at most DIY stores in France.
Septic Tank inspections
All septic tanks in France will be inspected routinely by your commune, buy this tend to take years to happen. However before you purchase a property in France it has to be inspected by SPANK, any fault will have to be put right within one year of purchase of the property, or have a new tank fitted it that was in the report. The onus is on the buyer, not the seller to have this work done.
Most properties for sale in France should have information within the details about the state of the septic tank, the costs are usually taken into account within the asking price. But you could add a clause that if the tank does not conform, that the seller puts it right, or you take the costs off of your offered price for the property if they have not had a report done but have told you that it conforms.