Fosse Septique - Regulations around inspection & replacement

18 Replies



Hi Folks,   Can anyone enlighten me as to the following: 1) How often does the fosse septique need to be inspected  (by law/regulation)? 2) How often should the fosse septique be cleaned out? 3) How often does the fosse septique need to be replaced (by law/regulation)?   Is there anything we can put down the toilet to end the occasional "whiffs" that we get when outside...  Phew!  It's not nice...     Many thanks!

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Sparky29 1390746811

1) When a property is sold, or now (if it hasn't been done already).

2) Depends on the fosse. Whatever the installer/manufacturer recommends.

3) When it fails (or ceases) to conform (you have some time after that, though).

Depends on where the smells are coming from. If it is the vent, then a carbon filter on the vent may be the answer. Or move the vent, or install one.

Or get a man in!

Ted-787870 1390750565

I asked our SPANC inspector when the next inspection would be and he said 'in 8 years time'. 

listen very carefully 1390752608

When my fosse was renewed I got an info sheet from SPANC-in theory-fosses are inspected every four years and should also be emptied every four years and only if it fails an inspection is there any need to do any work.In respect of whiffs make sure your vent is high enough consider the regular use of something like eparcyl/ tarax or similar and think about what you are putting down your drainsNo bleach no antibiotic/antiseptic etc and think about your washing powder/liquid  and all those food scraps/grease that go down the plug hole(ie dont)

CharlotteM-441068 1390817046

If you have bought your house recently then it will have had to be inspected before you bought it and you should have a record of that.  Inspection after that is usually at the instigation of the local authorities here and they will let you know if and when they are going to turn up.  If your fosse failed it's inspection when you bought the house then you usually have one year to sort the probblem out.  After that there is no obligation on you to arrange inspections unless you want to sell the house and then your agent or the notaire will arrange it on your behalf.

There is a requireent that all fosses should be emptied every 4 years.  This is a relatively recent requirement and before it was in place my fosse went quite happily for 18 years without problems. The people emptying it said it didn't need emptying and that it had excellent biological function.  

UNPLEASANT SMELLS!!!!!!!!  These are usually caused by people trying to get rid of them with chemicals or disinfectant (such as bleach etc).  When first starting to use a fosse you have a little while to wait until the natural bacteria start to work on the solids to get rid of them.  At this stage you can have unpleasant smells.  If you treat your fosse with care (no disinfectant, antiseptic, bleach ++++++) your fosse will gradually start to work as it should and unpleasant smells will be eliminated.  Basically you just have to remember that anything that kills germs will kill the natural bacteria in your fosse and that will make it smell.  There are products, such as Apta WC, that you can buy to help to activate your fosse and these are useful.  I always make sure to put any yoghurt that has gone over its' 'eat by' date down the loo as well.  You may sometimes find your fosse begins to smell if someone in the family is using anti-biotics.  You can do nothing about this except make sure you use plenty of activater afterwards.

If you search the supermmarket shelves you will find a variety of products that are suitable for a fosse septique and also a couple of brands of toilet paper that is biodegradable. Toilet paper that's made of cellulose should be avoided as it will never break down and remain always in your fosse making it necessary to have it emptied more often.

I hope this helps.





Backagain 1390822294

Thankyou CharlotteM.

That was the most detailed and accurate answer to the perennial "fosse" question ever posted.

brockwellboy 1390822602

I find it hard to believe that normal antibiotics after passing through the body and greatly diluted will actually stop a fosse from working. Is it really true?

CharlotteM-441068 1390823820

Yes, it really is true that anti-biotics stop your fosse working properly.  This is quite logical, they kill bacteria and do not become inactive after passing through the body.  This leaves them free to kill the natural bacteria in your fosse.  Anything that kills bacteria or germs can adversely impact on the functioning of your fosse and are best avoided in products that end up in the fosse.  Except of course you can't avoid taking anti-biotics if they're prescribed.

brockwellboy 1390824778

Thanks. I really thought that bacteria in fosses were a bit more robust. I'm so glad we have main drainage.

Backagain 1390826527

The amount of antibiotics getting into the environment has become one of the many concerns facing science at moment.  There was a documentary some time ago about how we are running out of options to deal with the latest virusus that have become immune to the common antibiotics that have "leaked" into the environment.  Sorry for straying off topic.

CharlotteM-441068 1390829964

It doesn't really seem 'off topic' to me. Just an extension of the whole big fosse question.  Well kept and with attention to detail I feel a fosse is eco friendly.  If you have mains drainage you are putting all the drugs and things that you take into the mains drainage to be filtered etc and re-cycled for people to drink - it may be classed as safe but there are now questions about the residue of drugs and what they are doing to us.  Worth googling!

turkey-879407 1390843871

We switched to a micro station no smells and no problems with chemicals in moderation.

Fazabelle56 1390845628

Charlotte M,

As you say when a house is sold the fosse is inspected and a report prepared and any faults found have to be remedied within 12 months. Do you know what the procedure is for checking that any required work has been done? Does the homeowner contact the relavant body when the work has been done and they come and inspect or do they come out at the end of the 12month period to ensure the work is completed as a matter of course?



wilbursmith 1390846274

Not bad info CharlotteM - apart from bleach such as Domestos is perfectly safe for fosse septiques - states that on the back of the bottle, have used it for 25yrs here and fosse is fine.

As well as that there is no point putting 'products from the supermarket' down if you are resident here as human waste has all the bacteria the fosse needs.

listen very carefully 1390847051


When you have done the work your installer should contact your local SPANC inspector who will come out and check the installation.Obviously nothing should be backfilled until it has been inspected.If it is passed then you will get a certificate through the post

Jon Foster Smith 1515489843

HELP!! My toilet is overflowing... literally... yesterday was not fun!

I have a plan of the fosse layout that came with the sale , but there are no signs of it in the garden... no cover... nothing! 

Do I just get someone in to empty it? Or will they just say they cant find it?

Thanks everyone!

Jon Foster Smith 1515490092

I should add - i bought my house last May - and there was nothing to show the fosse had been inspected. Is an inspection mandatory everywhere? I'm very reluctant to call SPANC... a can of worms maybe?!

Laurie Driver 1515494946

Hi Jon Foster Smith,

If you have a plan of the layout then I think the time to start digging and looking for the fosse is getting close but as it's only something you'd have had to do at some time or other if you think of the work you'll be saving yourself later while you're digging now it might ease the pain a bit.

But before you do start digging, did the problem / blockage happen quickly or did it come on slowly over a couple / few days?



countrydweller 1515500082

You should have been given a certificate from SPANC which would have formed part of the acte de vente process in which there would have been a pass/fail The notaire would not have proceeded without it I suggest you look at your paperwork again to see if you can find it and mention of it may be made in the acte de vente but how is your French? .If you say where you are someone may be able to recommend a suitable firm/person

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