Petes Takeaways. Tauranga New Zealand - For all liquid removal requirements - Tel: 07 541 3402


Septic Tank Care

How do they work?

Wastewater, from the kitchen, laundry and bathroom, discharges into a septic tank buried on the property. The heavier solids settle to the bottom of the tank, while fats float to the top. The remaining liquid flows out of the tank and discharges into a soakage area (either a dispersal or evaporation field).

Modern septic systems may have pumps, pressurized disposal with multiple chambers and filters. Speak to the manufacturer of your system to get an understanding of how your particular system works. The information given here applies mostly to older style systems.

Maintenance is crucial 

A poorly-maintained septic tank will become a serious health hazard, spreading disease and contaminating water sources. Septic tanks need regular maintenance, some of which you can do yourself and some of which you’ll need professional help with.

Learn about your particular system and keep a maintenance record. Include drawings of the system, mapping out its exact location. Your local council may be able to provide you with some of these details.

Newer systems often include a maintenance contract in their price. It is worth considering buying a maintenance contract for older systems.


Tanks generally need pumping (cleaning out) every 3-5 years to remove sludge and sediment.


Blockages are usually a sign that the sewage disposal system either requires maintenance or repair. Blockages can be either between the house and septic tank or between the tank and the soakage area.

  • A blockage between the house and septic tank could be caused by the scum layer of the tank plugging the inlet pipe at the tank, or it may be a blocked gully trap. Try clearing the blockage with a rubber plunger or drainage rod. If this does not work you should contact a professional. If scum is blocking the inlet pipe it is likely that the tank needs to be pumped out by professionals.
  • A blockage between the septic tank and soakage area could be due to lack of maintenance and is likely to be caused by:
  • A blocked tank outlet could be due to the outlet baffle deteriorating, particularly on an older system. You will need to have the tank pumped and the baffle replaced.
  • An obstructed line to the soakage area is probably due to either solids passing through the septic tank or broken pipes. Get the tank pumped out and have any broken pipes repaired.
  • A clogged soakage area can get happen naturally over time. If possible, rest the soakage area. This is possible with many modern systems that have two dispersal lines. However, switching lines should be done in summer when soil temperatures are high.
  • Seepage or swampy conditions in the soakage area can be due to the soakage area being too small or a clogged soakage area.


Older systems may have trouble coping with the amount of water modern living produces. This is particularly the case if you have extended your home and added bathrooms, for example, without expanding the sewerage system.

You can try to reduce the amount of water you are putting into the system. If this doesn’t solve the problem you may need to consider a larger system. Contact your local council for advice on this.


Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

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About us

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Pete's Takeaways is a well established and respected New Zealand owned company with a proud history of responding in a helpful and efficient manner to a wide variety of client demands. From draining a septic tank on a rural property to working with regional authorities and consultants, we pride ourselves on getting the job done on time and within budget.

Health and safety workshops are carried out with staff on a monthly basis.

Petes Takeaways carry a large public liability policy.

Remember we are available to take your call 24/7. Septic tanks should be serviced on a four yearly cycle. Check with us to see when yours was last done.