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Universal Tankers provides septic tank emptying services for both domestic and commercial properties.

Under the English Environment Agency's current Septic Tank Regulations, any tanks that discharge untreated sewage water into a fresh or public watercourse, such as a river, stream, lake, or even into the ground, must be upgraded or replaced. Failure to do so can lead to legal penalties, including an unlimited fine.

The most effective way to maintain your septic tank is to ensure it is emptied regularly to avoid any overspills, blockages, or general drainage problems. Universal Tankers provides a professional and compliant nationwide septic tank emptying service for residential properties. With our next-day guarantee, no matter where you are located in the country, our drivers can reach you and ensure your wastewater is safely and reliably transferred to a sewage treatment plant.

Additionally, all emptied waste must be documented to ensure compliance with the UK’s law. At Universal Tankers, we maintain a digital record of every job, so you can be confident that your waste is taken care of in an efficient and compliant manner.

For advice on or help with any of your septic tank needs, call us with no charge today on 0800 180 4474, or fill in our contact form to arrange a time for us to call you back at your convenience. Find more information on our septic tank emptying services below.


With over 20 years of experience, our licensed waste carriers cover all situations from a one-off emptying to scheduling regular tanker visits when required. We provide a friendly, professional, and prompt service for both domestic and commercial septic tank emptying. Our modern fleet of tankers is operated by fully trained specialists, delivering an efficient and reliable service for homes and businesses across England and Scotland. 

We can ensure your vessel is emptied (desludged) on a scheduled and regular basis. This will ensure the system is running to maximum efficiency and also that it is compliant with the UK's environmental regulations.


Why Choose Universal Tankers?

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Our Domestic Septic Tank Services

As a homeowner, maintaining a septic tank is critical to ensuring the health and safety of your living environment. We provide regular maintenance to prevent backups, overflows, and the deterioration of the septic system. Our service is efficient, and we inspect for potential issues and advise on any necessary repairs or improvements you must organise to maintain your system’s health.

Universal Tankers understands the unique needs of residential septic systems. We offer flexible scheduling to fit into the busy lives of homeowners, ensuring that septic tanks are emptied in good time, typically recommended every three to five years based on usage and system size.

When issues arise unexpectedly, Universal Tankers offers emergency call-out services to address urgent septic system concerns, reducing the risk of backups and damage.

Our Commercial Septic Tank Services

Businesses, schools, and hospitality venues have larger and more complex septic tank systems due to the higher volume of waste they produce compared to homes. These tanks often require emptying on a more regular basis, and as a commercial owner, you are held to stricter requirements when it comes to environmental regulations and health standards. Businesses need a service provider that can handle larger volumes, offer consistent service quality, and ensure that their operations remain compliant and uninterrupted.

Our services are compliant with all current environmental and waste management regulations, and we pride ourselves on staying ahead of new laws as they are introduced. We provide the necessary documentation to support your compliance with local regulations, helping you navigate the complexities of waste management requirements.

With a fleet of tankers designed to handle high-capacity loads, Universal Tankers can efficiently service even the largest commercial septic tanks, minimising downtime and disruption to your business operations.

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How Often Does a Septic Tank Need Emptying?

For your tank to work correctly, the sludge needs to be removed regularly to avoid the system backing up; the general advice is that this should be done annually, but tanks vary in size and capacity, meaning each has a slightly different care requirement, and we believe a more realistic timeframe falls under three to five years. This is something we can discuss with you when you call us.

Other factors that you should consider include:

  • The size of your household or premises: the number of individuals using the system plays a critical role. More people mean more wastewater, leading to the tank filling up more quickly.

  • Usage: the total amount of wastewater generated from all sources, including bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry, affects the frequency of emptying needed.

  • The types of waste your household or business operations produce: the presence of non-biodegradable materials in the wastewater can accelerate the rate at which the tank fills up, necessitating more frequent servicing.

Be on the lookout for these indicators that your septic tank requires attention:

  • Unpleasant odours near the tank or drain field.

  • Slow drainage or backups in sinks, showers, and toilets.

  • Water pooling on the surface of the drain field.

  • Inspection findings of sludge levels nearing or surpassing the tank's capacity.

Commercial properties often face different demands on their septic systems due to higher usage rates and varying types of waste. Businesses must arrange for professional evaluations to establish an emptying schedule that ensures operational efficiency and regulatory compliance. Set up a regular maintenance plan with a reliable service provider like Universal Tankers for the best results.

How to Check if a Septic Tank is Full

Monitoring the fill level of your septic tank is essential to prevent potential overflows, backups, and system damage. Knowing when your tank needs to be emptied is key to maintaining the efficiency of your septic system and ensuring environmental safety.

Several indicators can signal that your septic tank may be full or nearing its capacity. These include:

  • Slow drainage throughout your home or premises, indicates a backup in the system.

  • Unpleasant odours emanating from the area around the tank or the drain field.

  • Water pooling near the drain field, suggesting an overflow.

  • Sewage backups in toilets or sinks - a clear sign of a full tank.

  • An unusually lush and green lawn over the drain field, even in dry conditions, due to excess wastewater fertilising the area.

It is important to note that these signs can also point to other issues within your septic system and might require a professional evaluation for a precise diagnosis.

For those comfortable with a hands-on approach, a visual inspection of the tank can provide direct insight into its fill level. Before proceeding, ensure you wear appropriate protective gear. Locate and open the tank's inspection hatch to observe the scum and sludge layers.

If you are unsure about conducting a manual check or if your system shows signs of distress, speak to a professional. Our operators can offer an accurate assessment and recommend maintenance or repair solutions. Regular professional inspections can preemptively identify issues, ensuring your system remains functional and efficient.

To avoid surprises with your septic tank's fill level, adhere to these maintenance practices:

  • Pump your tank regularly, considering your property size, tank capacity, and the volume of wastewater generated.

  • Avoid flushing non-biodegradable materials that can quickly fill up the tank.

  • Reduce overall water usage to slow down the rate at which the tank fills.

Consider installing tank level alarms or monitoring systems for more straightforward fill level tracking, simplifying maintenance schedules.

Overlooking the maintenance of your septic tank can lead to overflows, posing significant health hazards and environmental pollution risks. This negligence can lead to fines and other legal repercussions. Staying compliant with local regulations regarding septic tank maintenance and emptying schedules is not only a legal obligation but also a responsibility toward community health and the environment.

FAQs About Septic Tank Emptying
What is a Septic Tank Used For? How Does a Septic Tank Work?

Your septic tank is designed to handle the daily effluent flow your home or business premises produces, from toilet waste to washing liquids. From this, a waste sludge of fats, oils and grease (FOG) and other solids forms. A septic tank allows this waste sludge to separate from the liquid effluent, which then runs to a soakaway system while the sludge remains. The sludge requires emptying and disposing of before it becomes a hazard – which is where Universal Tankers comes in.

How Do I Know if I Have a Septic Tank or Cesspit?

Septic tanks and cesspits have different maintenance requirements and, therefore, different legal obligations. The ability to distinguish between the two can significantly impact how you manage your property's wastewater and comply with environmental regulations.

  • A septic tank is a part of an underground wastewater treatment system that uses the biological processes of good bacteria to decompose solid waste and separate it from the liquid, which can be discharged to a drain field.

  • A cesspit (or cesspool) is a sealed underground tank that collects wastewater and sewage without treating it, requiring regular emptying.

To identify which system your property has, start with a physical inspection. Look for a manhole cover or inspection hatch; its location can offer clues. Septic tanks are often connected to a series of pipes whereas cesspits are standalone units.


Check your property's documents or records, which might include the system's installation permits, maintenance history, or a site plan showing the sewage system. Your local council or environmental agency may also hold records on your property that can clarify the type of system installed.

If you are unsure, a professional assessment can provide a definitive answer. Universal Tankers' wastewater management professionals or septic service companies can inspect your system to identify its type, condition, and any maintenance it may need.

Do I Need to Clean My Septic Tank?

Cleaning a septic tank involves the comprehensive removal of all the contents of the tank, including solids, liquids, and sludge. This process often includes inspecting the tank's interior for any signs of wear or damage and making necessary repairs. It is a step beyond pumping.

When we empty your septic tank, you should raise any notable issues with us and we can advise you on whether you need to clean your septic tank, and the signs you should be looking out for. Some signs that indicate a need for cleaning include:

  • Slow drainage in sinks, showers, and toilets.

  • Foul odours near the septic tank or drain field area.

  • Water pooling on the ground surface above the tank or the drain field.

  • Frequent sewage backups or overflows.

  • High levels of sludge and scum accumulation.

These indicators suggest that pumping alone might not suffice and a thorough cleaning is necessary.

Regular cleaning of your septic tank offers several benefits:

  • Prevents blockages and sewage backups into your home.

  • Extends the overall lifespan of your septic system.

  • Ensures the system operates at peak efficiency.

  • Protects the quality of the groundwater and surrounding environment from potential contamination.


The frequency of septic tank cleaning depends on various factors, such as the size of the tank, its usage, and the volume of wastewater generated. While it is suggested to perform a deep clean every three to five years, a professional inspection can provide you with a tailored cleaning schedule based on your system's specific needs.

While some aspects of septic system maintenance might seem manageable on a DIY basis, cleaning should generally be entrusted to professionals. The process involves handling hazardous materials and requires specialised equipment, making it risky without the proper training and tools.

Get In Touch

To get a free quote from our experts, contact our team today. Simply call us on 0800 180 4474 or fill out our contact form and we will call you back.

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