Maintenance and servicing is a legal obligation

In this article you’ll read everything you need to know about maintenance and servicing on your wastewater treatment system: obligations, what is it, products to avoid and do & don’ts.


Maintenance wastewater system


The importance of maintenance and servicing your wastewater treatment system

Once your wastewater treatment system is installed, the work is not totally done yet. 

You or your landlord are responsible for maintaining your system for several reasons. For example, not de-sludging a septic tank led to a sludge accumulation and may cause a malfunction of your system.

You may wonder what maintenance or servicing is. What do you have to do according to your sewage treatment system?

Why the maintenance of wastewater system is important?

In Ireland, there are approximately 500,000 wastewater treatment systems, and most of them are septic tanks. Lack of tank desludging and maintenance of wastewater treatment system is an issue as this poses risks to health or the environment.

maintenance for wastewater treatment system

Legal obligations regarding maintenance of wastewater system

Part 4 of the Water Services Act, 2007 (as amended) and associated Regulations established a system for registration, inspection and enforcement of DWWTS and placed duties on owners, water service authorities and the EPA: ‘A person who owns, has in his or her charge or otherwise has control over a wastewater works shall cause it to be properly maintained’.

The property owner has, therefore, a legal responsibility to ensure that the system does not cause pollution, a health hazard, or a nuisance.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a report in 2021 which results that: ‘more than half of domestic wastewater treatment systems inspected (433 of the 809) last year were not up to standard, with almost a quarter posing a risk to human health or the environment according to rte.ie.

Therefore, the EPA introduced an operational change in the 2021 Code of Practice by adding a de-sludging frequency recommendation (Table 12.2 on page 72). The Code of Practice (CoP) aim is to provide guidance on domestic wastewater treatment systems. You can read more about it here.

Download the manual of your Tricel system for more information about maintenance 

Have a look at the 2021 CoP

What is the maintenance of wastewater systems and servicing?

NOTE: the following paragraph relates to Tricel’s wastewater treatment solutions only. Please refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines if you have a system from another manufacturer.

You can do part of the servicing by yourself. You must be sure that your system is correctly installed and operating well.  You can regularly check that:

  • Nothing hinders the correct operation of the system; the inlet and outlet should be checked to remove anything that would block the flow.
  • The mechanical parts (if there are any) are working properly.
  • There are no smells or suspicious noises.
  • Etc.

However, it is a professional that should do the main part of the maintenance and servicing.

Tricel offers an annual maintenance contract which is a full service every year to guarantee the system’s efficiency. For the operation’s smooth running, service personnel must get accommodated with unobstructed access to the tank.

Regarding desludging, Tricel recommends using a licensed company to carry out the desludging. This should be done with a vacuum tanker.

The EPA states that: ‘The Water Services Acts 2007 and 2012 (Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems) Regulations, 2012 require that de-sludging is carried out by a contractor authorised under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2007 (as amended) and the contents disposed of in accordance with all relevant national legislative requirements or directions pertaining at the time.

Depending on the Tricel wastewater solution you have, we will adapt the maintenance, have a closer look:

Are you not sure that your system is a Tricel one? Let’s see what our solutions look like once installed.

Maintenance Wastewater System – Products to avoid 

The cleaning and household products we use daily can have a significant impact on the functioning of sewage treatment system, some are not recommended.

The proper functioning of the sanitation system requires the maintenance of its bacterial flora. To respect the environment that surrounds us, the proper functioning of your individual treatment plant and your health, we propose 8 main families of products and liquids that should not be put into your pipes:

  1. Flammable substances and liquids
    • Petrol, oil and its derivatives
    • Methanol and other methylated spirits
    • Metallic paints, paint cans
    • Solvents such as white spirit and acetone
    • Windscreen de-icers
    • Glues and derivatives (neoprene glues)
    • Aerosols, lacquers
    • etc


  1. Fats and oils

For example, you should not pour food oils and fats into your system. They solidify and clog your pipes. In the treatment process, they reduce the oxygen supply for bacteria.

You can dispose of small quantities of fats and oils in your household waste bin. Your local waste disposal centre can recycle larger quantities


  1. Non-biodegradable items

Whatever your sanitation system, non-biodegradable items such as plastics, cardboard packaging, condoms, tampons, cigarette butts, sanitary towels, cleaning wipes, etc. should not be put down the drain, as they can clog the pipes. This list is of course not exhaustive.


  1. Waxes and resins

You should not pour waxes and resins, including natural resins into your installation. They solidify and clog your pipes. In the treatment process, they reduce the oxygen supply to the bacteria.

2. Substances hazardous to the aquatic environment

    • Phytosanitary products, pesticides, weed killers…
    • Certain solvents that contain a phenol derivative
    • Substances containing heavy metals such as mercury, lead, etc.


  1. Clearwater

In addition, never allow clear water (rainwater, swimming pool water, etc.) to flow into your wastewater treatment system.  Too much clear water would lead to untreated wastewater being discharged into the sewerage system or the natural environment. This “clear water” is free of organic matter. It does not require any special treatment.

Moreover, heavy rainfall or the emptying of your swimming pool would drain your station and discharge your wastewater directly into your sewage system or surface channels (gutters or ditches).


  1. Medicines

Medicines contain active substances that interfere with the proper functioning of your sewage system. You shouldn’t pour medicines down your drains; pharmacies are able to collect them.

They can be easily recycled by taking them to the nearest pharmacy.


  1. Soil

Finally, soil should not be put into your pipes because it is not very biodegradable. Bacteria cannot consume soil and it accumulates at the bottom of the tank. A increase of the sludge levels lead to increased emptying frequencies.

Moreover, products like disinfectants, bleach-based antibacterial, or containing this active ingredient must be used in moderation, without exceeding the doses that are acceptable to the bacteria. If you respect these doses, weekly use is safe for your installation.

The European Union introduced clear pictograms on the labels of your household products. It will help you to determine if your detergent is harmful to your wastewater system.

Wastewater Treatment Dont’s

Do not allow rainwater, groundwater or large volumes of water such as those from swimming pools, Jacuzzi’s into the wastewater treatment plant. Excessive water will increase the flow rate through the plant not allowing sufficient treatment time and may also flush the micro-organisms out.

Do not dispose of nappies, sanitary towels, baby wipes, cosmetic and cleaning wipes or similar, rags or non-bio-degradable material down the toilet as they block the drains and also cause malfunction in the plant

Do not overuse bleach and disinfectants. These are safe to use in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines and in the minimum necessary concentration.

Do not switch off the plant when you go on holidays. The plant should operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The air blower and the sludge return system maintain the bacteria during period of low occupancy. If the micro-organisms are destroyed due to the ingress of chemicals (or any of the products listed below) into the plant, you will need to de-sludge and clean the plant to restart the population of micro-organisms. The following substances will kill the working micro-organisms in the plant and should not be discharged of into the sinks or drains.

Do not pour neat bleach or disinfectants down the sink or outside drains. Often these are inappropriately used to treat foul odours from sinks and drains. However these foul smells are caused by a build-up of decaying material or a plumbing problem which should be dealt with using an appropriate method.

Don’t allow pesticides, paints, thinners, solvents, gardening chemicals or hazardous substances into the plant.

Do not pour Fats, grease or any oil down the sink or outside drains as this clog the plant

Do not dispose of medicines down the sink. Dispose of as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Do not use sink macerators unless the plant is specifically designed to accept this increased organic load. Sink macerators result in additional maintenance.
Some everyday products, such as milk, wine, beer can increase the organic load on the plant and cannot be disposed of down the sink or outside drains.

Wastewater Treatment Do’s

Locate the treatment plant in a pedestrian area away from any super imposed loads

Ensure the finished ground level is lower than the “max ground level” indicated on the plant

Ensure that vents are clear as the plant requires a fresh supply of oxygen. Inspect regularly especially in the autumn to ensure vents are free of leaves.

Carry out regular inspections and yearly maintenance to ensure the plant is operating at the optimum. Check regularly that the air blower is working by listening for the gentle hum from the plant. A yearly maintenance contract is available from your supplier.

Inspect the plant regularly and de-sludge using a contractor with a license to ensure it operates to its optimum.

Maintain a log of inspections, de-sludging and maintenance contracts to record the full service history of the plant.

Different products sold by Tricel

Tricel Novo & Vitae: Both are wastewater treament plant solutions manufactured by Tricel. Wastewater treatment plants offer a superior quality of treatment. For example, the Tricel Novo comprises of three independent wastewater treatment zones and offers an average of efficiency of 95.9% BOD removal.
This is a higher treatment standard than the effluent from a septic tank. Please note: all wastewater treatment plants used in Ireland must comply with the EN12566-3 standard and all septic tanks must comply with the EN12566-1 standard..

Tricel Vento: The septic tank from Tricel is manufactured as a primary treatment. Designed for the settlement of your effluent. This product may need an additional treatment like the Sandcel or Puraflo.


More Details

What happens if I get a power cut?

The plant should not be affected by a temporary power outage. After a power cut, checking the plant to ensure it has restarted is essential. It may have an alarm after powering on, but it will fix itself after a few minutes.

How often do I need to empty my sewage treatment plant?

De-sludging is necessary when the sludge occupies 50% of the primary chamber. This is when the sludge is 700 mm deep. A licensed company should perform de-sludging intervals yearly to prevent sludge build-up. Local councils should have a list of licensed contractors. De-sludging is the responsibility of the homeowner.

For more information, please refer to the 2021 Code of practice Section 12.2: https://www.epa.ie/publications/compliance–enforcement/waste-water/2021_CodeofPractice_Web.pdf

Tricel warranties

Most Tricel products have a warranty. To discover all the guarantees on our products, as well as on the internal parts, consult our dedicated product pages.

Certifications for Tricel wastewater treatment systems

The Tricel wastewater treatment plants comply with the European Standard EN12566, S.R. 66, and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Code of Practice. Click below for more details about the certifications.

Why choose Tricel and their service partners

Fast delivery

Fast delivery

Fast delivery and rapid response to all of our customers. Average response time of 12 minutes on weekdays.

Partner network

Partner network

Combined knowledge of service partner network throughout Europe

Technical expertise

Technical expertise

Unrivalled technical expertise in the installion, commissioning and maintenance of WWT solutions

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    Tricel (Killarney) Unlimited Company
    Ballyspillane Industrial Estate, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 X253, Ireland
    Tel: 64 663 2421