Can I install a septic tank myself at my second French home?

Installations must be checked every 10 years

Septic tanks are used in millions of rural French homes
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Reader Question: Are there rules about who can work on septic tanks or can I do this myself? Is it the same if I want to connect my property to the mains?

Rules around septic tanks in France are covered by the service public d’assainissement non collectif, or SPANC.

Each commune, or set of communes, has a SPANC which validates installations of septic tanks, as well as providing the necessary checks on already-installed systems.

These checks take place every 10 years.

If you want to install or replace your septic tank, it is possible to do the work yourself, although it can be a big undertaking.

Regardless, you will need to be in communication with the SPANC, who will inform you about the local rules in your area – different soil types and other terrain features will affect installation rules.

General rules regarding the size of the tank and distance from your property will also apply.

The SPANC will also need to certify your installation once it is complete, which is done before the tank is covered.

If deemed adequate you may need to reinstall the system.

Read more: What are the rules to install a septic tank in French holiday home?

Additionally if an installation causes damage to the local environment you face a fine.

Septic tank installation kits can be purchased online for around €1,500, and you will probably also need to hire a digger.

You do not need professional qualifications to install a tank yourself (unlike official contractors, who do) but again, the SPANC may not pass your installation if any errors have been made.

Can I work on a septic tank in France once installed?

Apart from being emptied septic tanks generally require little maintenance after installation.

This should be done on average every four years, or when the tank is about half-full.

This must be undertaken by a professional contractor, you cannot empty the tank yourself. Your local SPANC will have details of qualified companies which can assist.

Read more: How often must I empty my septic tank in France?

Other maintenance issues are unlikely, although if you do have problems it is advised you seek professional assistance, rather than looking into the issue yourself, as malfunctions such as spillages can be dangerous for both human health and wildlife in the area.

Can I connect my property to the mains system?

Connecting your property to the mains sewage system is different from having a septic tank – you cannot both have a septic tank and be connected to the mains.

If you want your property installed to the mains sewage system, you will need to contact your local mairie, to check if it is feasible and to get a raccordement au système d’assainissement collectif (sometimes called a tout à l’égout)

You are not able to do this work yourself.

Read more: How do we connect our French holiday home to public drainage?

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