How to Choose a Septic Tank Service

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If you’re a home or business owner that lives off the grid and you are not connected to a sewage system, you’ll need to employ the services of a septic tank and liquid waste management company. However, depending on what industry you’re in and where you’re based, you might require a range of services. Here we help you decide how to choose your septic tank service.

Why is Septic Tank Cleaning So Important?

Septic tanks are a crucial part of any property that exists off the grid and disconnected to a sewage network; whether it’s commercial, industrial, agricultural or domestic. Although you may not think of septic tanks as inherently hygienic things, they need to be cleaned regularly to properly operate and, if ignored, can pose significant dangers to you and the environment.

Primarily, not cleaning your septic tank will leave it open to more damage and deterioration. As the septic tank fills up with waste, the sludge and other debris produced will begin to accumulate and, if not cleared, will clog the pipes and drains that connect the different tanks and holding areas. This will cause damage over time and can lead to cracks, blockages and even bursts, which is something you definitely don’t want to clean up!

If your tank does end up leaking or bursting because of a lack of maintenance, this can also pose a significant risk to the environment. When a septic tank bursts underground, the unfiltered waste can pollute the ground and can even seep down into the groundwater where it will subsequently pollute the water supply. This can cause problems for local crops, as well as the surrounding wildlife and other people. In the worst circumstances, it can destabilise the local eco-system. Any contaminants that emanate from the system can cause you and others near to you to fall ill if the leak is severe and comes into contact with you.

Which Liquid Waste Removal Services Are Right For Your Industry?


As an organisation with a rich tradition in farming ourselves, we understand just how much waste can be produced by both large and small-scale agricultural projects. If you own or operate a farm, then you will be well aware of the effort and planning required to manage and remove the waste you produce responsibly.

Particularly if you own and operate a large farming operation, the scale of effluents you will produce can be dizzying and, even if you have on-site techniques to manage and dispose of the waste, you will need to get some outside help from time to time to treat your agricultural effluents.

Agricultural effluent is a term that encompasses wastewater and the proceeds of washdown from areas where agricultural livestock are kept in significant numbers. Not treating effluent in a controlled and responsible manner can cause pollution on your farm as well as the surrounding area. If you’re a large-scale farm, then it’s likely that you’ll have an on-site anaerobic lagoon where the majority on the wastewater and washdown will end up.

Anaerobic lagoons are created to hold and then treat the liquid waste that is produced on a farm and made up of the manure slurry which is drawn from the pens where animals are housed and then pumped into the lagoon. The slurry is often held in a separate tank before being transferred to a lagoon and, once in the lagoon, the manure splits naturally into a solid layer and a liquid layer which then go through the process of anaerobic respiration. If a lagoon overflows, however, it can become a real danger to the environment.

This is where the services of a liquid waste removal company come in. At JH Willis & Son, we have a vacuum tank hire service which can house up to 3000 gallons of liquid waste and be used to empty an agricultural lagoon. As well as this, we can also perform umbilical slurry work which takes the waste from the lagoon and spreads it across a spreading field as compost.


If you’re a factory or mill operator, you’ll need a liquid waste removal service just as much as a farm will. Although you might not have the manure and animal washdown to manage, there is still an inordinate amount of liquid waste to consider.

Depending on what type of industrial operation you manage, there may be some hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of. This type of waste is defined as liquid that can potentially harm public health or the environment, so needs to be dealt with in a particular way. Specifically, this includes oils, contaminated soil and asbestos and will need to be disposed of under very strict regulations.

At JH Willis & Son, we don’t manage hazardous materials, however, we can provide services to help you manage and treat the non-hazardous liquid waste that you will naturally produce. If your factory is located off-grid and disconnected from the sewage network, then you’ll need to have at least one septic tank located underneath the property to treat and handle the waste produced by the staff as well as any wastewater from the industrial process.

Although septic tanks filter a lot of the waste back into the soil through the drain field after a process of settling and conditioning, they will also need to be emptied from time to time. We have a fleet of large HGV vehicles that can contain and carry up to 26,000 litres of liquid waste. So, no matter how large or small your operation is, we will be able to provide the right liquid waste removal service for your needs.

How To Choose The Right Septic Tank Company

Whether you’re a commercial, industrial, agricultural or domestic client, you’ll need to employ a highly trustworthy and experienced company to take care of your waste disposal. To choose the right firm for you, it’s imperative to first understand exactly what kinds of services you will need.

Many of the best septic tank and waste management companies offer regular maintenance, cleaning and emptying schedule as part of a package cost. This means that you will never have to worry about when you need to have the tank worked on as the firm will simply turn up according to the schedule and do it for you.

As the risks involved with a leak in your septic system can damage the environment, it’s also imperative to ensure that the company you hire have years of experience. Companies with a track record of working with a number of clients from different industries is a great sign that they will be reliable and able to complete any requirement you have. Also consider whether they have connections with local councils, environmental regulatory bodies like the Environment Agency and how long they have been working in the industry for. An organisation that has been working for decades and has strong connections with agencies and councils will be far better suited to complete work in an organised and efficient way than one without.

Choose JH Willis & Son For Your Septic Pumping and Waste Management in Cheshire

Established as a farming business in 1942, JH Willis & Son have since taken control of a number of farms as well as setting up a waste management business which provides waste disposal facilities to domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers across the North West of England and North Wales.

If you’re looking for ‘septic tank cleaning near me’, look no further than JH Willis & Son. We’re approved by a number of regulatory bodies like the Environment Agency, so if you need septic system maintenance services across the area, we’re a firm that you can trust.

To find out more about septic tank emptying cost, contact us. You can find us at J.H. Willis & Son, Holme Farm, Ince, Nr Chester, Cheshire, CH2 4NR or call us on 0151 356 0351.

A Brief History of Agriculture in The UK

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At JH Willis & Son, we have a deep connection with the agricultural heritage of the UK. We work with a wide variety of small and large farms and have been in operation since 1942. This deep connection with British agriculture means that we understand all of the age-old traditions and cultures of rural Britain. Read on to explore a brief history of this nation’s rich agricultural heritage.

The British Agricultural Revolution

During a 200-year period in Britain between the 1600s and the 1800s, the country went through an astonishing rise of agriculture due to an increase in population and a sharp incline in land productivity. This inflation of food supply consequently increased the population by nearly double over a period of just 100 years.

The Development of Techniques and Tools

One of the most crucial innovations which helped to fuel this growth was the idea of crop rotation. This practice involves growing a number of different crops in the same location over a number of seasons, which helps fight against the pests that can ruin the soil when only one type of crop is grown in one area. This process also helped to renew the health of the soil by switching between shallow and deep-rooted plants alternatively.

Tools, like ploughs which originated in China, were improved upon by Europeans and then brought to the UK, were also a defining reason for an increase in productivity. By making the work easier, crop yields were free to balloon.

The Rise of Machinery

After centuries of using hand-held and horse-drawn tools, another important development came with the dawn of the industrial revolution. The invention of complex machinery, which could vastly speed up agricultural processes and reduce the amount of manual labour, massively improved the industry and again increased yields. These developments came right at the end of the 19th century and heralded in a period of agriculture which is far more recognisable today.

Manage Your Agricultural Waste in Chester With JH Willis & Son

As a licensed waste management company in Chester, we work very closely with regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency, Cheshire County and Environmental health to ensure that all of our waste disposal services are performed responsibly.

We also provide a wide range of agricultural services, including muck spreading, power harrowing, subsoiling and pasture maintenance amongst others.

To find out more, contact us. You can find us at Holme Farm, Ince, Nr Chester, Cheshire, CH2 4NR or call us on 0151 356 0351.

Why we love tractors

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No vehicle is more synonymous with farming than tractors. Often lamented for blocking up country lanes with their colossal size and being slow on the roads, it is often forgotten actually how helpful these vehicles are to our society.

Since the birth of the tractor in the late Victorian era, broadly, farms have less relied upon manual labour, as tractors have dramatically increased crop turnover. Plus, their affordable price tag has made them a favourite in practical machinery.

Helped launch the agricultural revolution

Developed since 1812, tractors arguably helped kickstart an agricultural revolution. Increasing productivity on the farm, by 1928 the first general purpose tractor was produced which allowed farmers to plant and cultivate three rows at a time. At this time, tractors had steel wheels, yet rubber wheeled tractors were introduced by 1939.

By 1920, tractors became an affordable motor for the masses. With over 150 companies manufacturing them in the US, the competition was so fierce that companies started selling their tractors cheaper than it was to make them. This meant that small farms were also able to purchase them. By 1935 over 1 million tractors had been sold.


More productive farming

Nowadays, you would rarely see a working farm without a tractor. This is because tractors have dramatically changed the agriculture and farming industry, leading to more productive farming.

Before tractors, farms relied on human and animal manual labour. Horses and mules were expensive to care for, took up a lot of the farmers time, and needed extra land to graze and live on. With tractors, and without the horses, farmers used the extra land to grow more market crops creating more cash flow.

Plus, after the innovation of the basic tractor model and engine, innovations quickly developed leading them to become state of the art machines. Tractors arguably were the hallmark for agricultural efficiency.


They look impressive

Have you ever stood next to a tractor? They are huge and actually quite cool. Tractors are popular props for farm weddings, country fashion shoots and more. Their large rubber wheels, primary coloured hues and state of the art technology put  them in a league of their own when compared to other vehicles. Though not to be bought by just anyone, you can see why they are admired by many. They are simply the Bentleys of the agricultural world.

Despite their slowness on country lanes, their colossal engines and horsepower is not to be sniffed at. So hopefully in future when you see a bright green tractor taking its time down a road, you can appreciate how much they have benefited our society and the agriculture industry as a whole.

Here at J.H. Willis and Son, our modern high quality tractors can manage all of your agricultural services including ploughing, pasture maintenance, muck spreading, and more. Plus, their tractors can also provide agricultural effluent handling services. To find out more, click here.

Liquid Waste Removal Techniques

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Liquid waste is a byproduct of more areas than you might think; from domestic households, to hospitals, industrial plants and businesses such as wineries. Not all liquid waste is hazardous, but regardless, it’s important to dispose of it correctly to avoid damage to human health or the environment. There are several liquid waste removal techniques that can help depending on your needs, including dewatering, composting and incineration. If you or your business have been looking into how to effectively remove liquid waste, read on for some of the removal techniques available, and why it’s important to dispose of it as safely as possible.

What is liquid waste?

The term ‘liquid waste’ covers many different types of non-solid waste, including wastewater, fats, oil, or hazardous household liquids. It can also be used to describe excess unwanted commercial products (known as industrial liquid waste), such as cleaning fluids, pesticides, or manufacturing by-products. Many liquid wastes are hazardous and so must be monitored carefully when it comes to storage, transportation, treatment and disposal.

Domestic liquid waste (also called wastewater) refers to all excess water from our home sinks, baths, washing machines, lavatories, dishwashers or any other water-based appliance. It is disposed of via a sewer system and sewage treatment plant or held in a septic tank, which we will discuss in more detail further on.

Industrial wastewater is generated by processes used in the paper, dye or sugar industries (amongst others), and often contains toxic chemicals or heavy metals like lead or arsenic. Domestic liquid waste can simply be flushed away, and in most cases you won’t have to do anything further, unless you have a cesspit or septic tank on your property. The removal of industrial waste is much more complicated, and there are certain guidelines you must abide by to ensure the wastewater is being removed effectively and safely. There are several different methods of removal, which we will outline below.

Why is it important to dispose of liquid waste safely?

Proper liquid waste disposal is essential in order to protect the environment, as well as human health. As stated, the majority of liquid waste contains toxic or harmful substances like hazardous chemicals or heavy metals, and businesses can incur heavy fines if they fail to dispose of their waste properly.

All industries must comply with UK regulations for waste disposal under the Environmental Protection Act, and simply pouring chemical waste down the drain is a criminal offence. It’s important to document not just how you dispose of your liquid waste, but also how it is stored, transported and treated; and failure to do so will result in a fine from the Environment Agency.

Methods of removal

Industrial liquid waste is produced by a wide variety of sectors, from transportation, to food production, farms or hospitals. As mentioned above, all industries must comply with disposal regulations under the Environmental Protection Act, and unlicensed disposal of hazardous liquid waste can get you in a lot of trouble, both legally and financially. Below we will discuss some of the best techniques for removal of liquid waste, that comply with the rules and regulations set out by the Environment Agency.


This method is perfect if you want to safely dispose of your waste and help the environment at the same time! Composting is only suitable for organic wastewater (for example from farmland), however it must still be disposed of properly to avoid disrupting the environment with its high levels of organic pollutants or pesticides. If the water from organic liquid waste is removed, then the solid sediments that remain can be used as fertilizer – this is excellent for feeding soil as it will contain vital nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium or sodium.


Although we refer to these excess materials as ‘liquid waste’, they still contain solid components, and incineration is one of the most effective disposal methods for hazardous liquid wastes. The high temperatures produced by a furnace removes toxic components such as scrap metal, acids, oils or other hazardous chemicals, leaving the leftover water clean.

The most common incineration methods used are fluidised bed furnaces or a multiple hearth furnace; they are kept at temperatures between 1,800 and 2,200 degrees fahrenheit, which is high enough to burn the solid waste and force any leftover gas to stabilise into non-hazardous compounds. Any ash or gas left over is then tested to make sure there are low enough levels of hazardous chemicals present, before being taken to a landfill site and released into the atmosphere, respectively.


This method is suitable for non-hazardous liquid waste, and is a relatively simple and eco-friendly way of separating any potential contaminants from your wastewater. The liquid waste is pumped into a large geotextile bag and then blended with polymers – these help to separate the solids from the liquid. As the polymer binds the solids together, clear water is free to run out of the bag leaving 99% of solids behind; in some cases the water is so clear that it can be reused without the need for additional treatment.


A sedimentation tank is an essential component of a modern wastewater treatment system, and works by separating solid particles from the water as it flows slowly into the tank. Layers of solids known as sludge will gradually form at the bottom of the tank, and are removed at regular intervals.

Sedimentation is often used as part of the treatment process for turning wastewater back into safe water for gardening, washing and more . Coagulants are added to the liquid waste prior to entering the tank; this helps the waste separate more easily, and the water can then be sent for filtration and other purification processes while the leftover solids are sent to landfill. The full process of purifying this wastewater is known as root zone treatment.

Root zone

This method is used to purify household wastewater (e.g from kitchens or bathrooms) by harnessing the way the earth would naturally process such waste, using an artificial soil ecosystem.

As mentioned above, first the wastewater passes through a sedimentation tank, before pollutants are removed using further filtration, absorption and nitrification processes. The root zone process is one of the more complicated ways of dealing with liquid waste, but it is a very effective and eco-friendly method.

Septic tank emptying

A septic tank is basically another form of sedimentation tank, and they are most commonly found in rural areas that aren’t connected to a mains sewage system. They have a very similar process to a sedimentation tank, except the separated wastewater is spread onto surrounding soil and land via a drain field pipe.

Sedimentation tanks also tend to be part of a sewage plant system and will need to be serviced, whereas a septic tank just needs emptying around once a year.

Regular septic tank cleaning is essential to remove toxins and other bacterial buildups found in the sludge that builds up at the bottom of the tank, so as not to damage the surrounding soil once the treated wastewater exits the tank.

You’ll have to pay for the septic tank cleaning cost yourself if it is part of your home; this will vary depending on the size of the tank but it’s an expense you will only have to budget for every few years.

If you need professional liquid waste management and removal, get in touch with J H Willis & Son. We are fully licensed and work closely with the Environment Agency, Cheshire County Council and Environmental Health to ensure our waste disposal methods have as little environmental impact as possible. Whether you need septic tank maintenance, cesspit emptying or industrial liquid waste management, we have the services for you. Give us a call today on 0151 356 0351, or visit our website to see the full range of services we provide.

Why Septic Tank Cleaning is Vital for Spring

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If your home or business relies on a septic tank, then you’ll understand how vital regular maintenance is to keep things running smoothly. Septic tanks require routine emptying, but an annual clean is a good way to keep your tank in the best condition possible.

Harsh winter weather may have affected the functionality of your septic tank, and as the climate moves from freezing conditions to the mild and wet weather of spring, problems can arise with your tank that you may not be aware of. Thankfully, most can be avoided with a good spring clean, so read on to learn more about how the weather can affect your tank, and what you can do to prevent future problems.

What is a septic tank?

A septic tank is a simplified, onsite sewage facility for liquid waste removal, most commonly used in rural areas that aren’t connected to a main sewerage system. An underground chamber made from concrete, fibreglass or plastic collects sewage for basic treatment, and wastewater enters the tank which is then separated into solids (which sink to the bottom as sludge) and oil or grease which floats on top as scum. Some solids are anaerobically digested, and the treated excess liquid drains out from the tank to be absorbed by the surrounding soil. Not all of the solid sludge is able to organically decompose, which is why it’s vital to get your septic tank emptied – the frequency of this will depend on the tank’s size and how many people it serves.

Winter septic tank issues

Freezing weather can put your septic tank under a lot of stress, and may seriously damage it if left untreated. It’s not all bad news though – being able to recognise potential problems goes a long way towards prevention, so see below for some of the most common winter issues and how you can prevent them.

Frozen components

Sub zero temperatures and the accompanying frost and snow can infiltrate parts of your septic tank system, or even freeze the entire thing. Even one frozen part will slow down the rate of anaerobic bacteria in the tank, meaning that solid waste will not be broken down as effectively. Luckily, something as simple as covering the septic tank with a blanket, or running water at regular intervals can prevent the chances of freezing.

Damaged pipes

Clogged or leaking pipes can cause havoc to your septic system at any time, but particularly during the colder months. A leak can cause water to freeze outside of the pipes, causing further damage to the entire system, and a clog prevents wastewater from flowing into the tank chambers. A buildup of wastewater in the pipes is also prone to freezing, and could even contaminate your drinking water. It’s important to fix any leaks as soon as you notice them (ideally before cold weather descends), and pay extra attention to what you can and cannot flush to prevent the build up of clogs.

Hard, compacted ground

Frozen ground and compacted snow around the tank and drainfield can lead to less effective drainage and poor insulation of your tank. If the ground of the drainfield is too compacted and hard then wastewater cannot be filtered and drained as easily, and it will also make it much more difficult to pump your septic tank if it needs emptying. Aim to have your septic emptied before winter if necessary, and aerate the soil around the tank to reduce the risk of the ground becoming too compacted.

Signs of a problem

Even if you’ve taken care to avoid the winter issues above, come spring you may still notice some signs that your septic tank is not operating as effectively as it should. It’s essential to have your tank cleaned or emptied if you notice any of the following signs:

Standing water

Pools or puddles of water on the grass near the drainage field area is a serious sign that your septic tank is not functioning as it should. Poor drainage can cause a health hazard, as dirty water is accumulating in places where it shouldn’t, so call the experts immediately to talk about septic tank drainage.

Bad odours

It’s unpleasant, but a bad smell is another sign that your septic tank isn’t functioning properly and a ‘rotten egg’ smell indicates the presence of toxic sulphur. A stronger smell outside around the tank might mean that raw sewage has leaked out, or if you’re smelling odours inside the house it’s likely that the tank is full and needs to be emptied.

Water backup

Water backup or slow drainage from your kitchen sink, bath or shower could indicate blocked pipes in your septic system. If sewage has begun to back up from the pipes call for professional help as soon as possible – this can be the sign of a failing system.

Gurgling noises

Frequent gurgling noises after flushing the toilet or running water is usually a sign that the pipes are blocked or the septic tank is full. This can be easily resolved by pumping the tank, and septic tank emptying costs aren’t as high as you might think.

Spring maintenance

There’s no substitute for a professionals septic tank service, but there are some things you can do to maintain your tank throughout the spring. This season is the best time of year to get your tank back in optimum working condition after the winter, so see below for some of our top spring cleaning tips.

Change the filters

Most septic tanks have filters nowadays – with the exception of some old models – and it acts as an extra screening device to catch solid particles and prevent them interfering with the soil absorption. Filters can become clogged with twigs, leaves or other debris from winter storms or spring rain, which can stop the entire system from working properly. In some cases you’ll be able to clean the filters yourself, or call a professional company if you think they need replacing.

Schedule an inspection

Even if your tank doesn’t need emptying, it’s a good idea to schedule an inspection in the spring for some general septic tank care. A professional will be able to spot any issues you might have missed, such as a cracked lid or faulty pipes.

Pump the system

This is simply another way of describing emptying the septic tank; as stated the size and frequency of use will affect how often you need to empty, but most tanks are pumped once every one to five years. This is something that should never be attempted without calling in a professional, but regular pumping can help prevent flooding, reduce the buildup of potentially unhygienic toxins and stop water backing up into your property.

Clean your drains

It might seem unrelated, but the more you take care of the internal drains, the less work the septic tank has further down the line. Keep drains and pipes free of clogs by monitoring what you flush down the toilet, and avoid pouring cooking oil down the sink where possible. Clear drains mean less chance of your tank flooding or water backing up through the pipes.

Redirect gutters

It’s not just April showers – there’s a lot of rainfall throughout all the spring months, so it’s wise to redirect your gutters away from the drainage area to prevent flooding. Too much water directed towards the septic tank can interfere with the settlement of sewage and disrupt the flow rate with the potential for sewage to leave the tank untreated.

If you’re in need of domestic or professional septic tank emptying or maintenance, give J H Willis & Son a call. With over 50 years of experience in the waste management industry, we make sure all waste is disposed of to licensed premises and work with the Environment Agency and Cheshire Council to minimise the environmental impact of waste disposal. Call us today on 0151 356 0351 or visit our website to learn more about our septic tank services.

Septic Tank Insurance Claims: All you need to Know.

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It is not surprising for us at all to realise that, more often than not, most people do not realise they are entitled to a septic Tank Insurance Claim whenever they happen to have a septic tank problem- which they will almost assuredly do.

The question then begins to rag: when and how does the sewage problem in your house become eligible for insurance claims and how exactly do you go about exerting your right without getting ripped off by insurance companies? This is the crux of this article as we examine the details of septic tank emptying and cleansing, cesspit emptying and what exact steps you should take when you feel there is a need for an insurance company to step up in assisting you with a sewage problem.

Septic Tank Emptying and Cleansing.

It is easy for even a child to have a general idea of what a septic tank is and what fills it all up. We all know that is where all of the great things we eat ends up and that is just about the narrow idea of what an average person thinks fills up the septic tank.

Well, you should know that several types of wastes end up there as well. Just so we are clear, water from all of your laundry, including your showers and sinks, eventually finds there a way to the septic tank. So, as you must know already, it is quite a busy place there and just like pretty much every other thing, it demands your attention. Septic tanks typically have an outlet that connects it to a drainage field or soakaway system, and with this thought, we often wonder why else do we need to empty the tank if the wastes go someplace else anyway?

Well, yes. The septic tank does have a pipe that runs from the tank to a drainage system. Albeit, we would point out a few neat facts from this statement. One, an outlet away from the septic tank is what differentiates it from a cesspit which we shall discuss later – and two, not all wastes get taken away from the septic tank.

Here’s how it works. The outlet system is a septic tank of an array of perforated or slotted pipes which allow the wastewater from the septic tank to enter safely into the ground without causing pollution. By default, septic tanks don’t treat the waste. What it does, is have it separated into three different layers, and it is only it purged wastewater that finds its way into the drainage system.

The rest of the of the more solid sludge remains in the tanks, and this is what needs to be emptied on a regular basis. If not, you will have to put up with a pungent odor around the house. Worse still, you may have more serious problems like toilets becoming more difficult to flush, gurgling sounds in the pipes and even having all kinds of wastes seep into the soakaway system, blocking it and forcing it to pool above ground level. This is not good for you or your environment, and this puts the local watercourses at pollution risks.

Generally, how often the septic tank gets emptied will depend largely on how many people live in the house and the size of the tank, but the general rule is at least once a year. More often than not, you are not likely to go wrong with this approximation.

Typically, to get a tank emptied, a local septic tank emptying company will send out one of their tankers out with a long flexible hose. The tanker operator then goes ahead to fit this into your septic tank, and a suction force is used to get all the waste out. They take this away and dispose of it appropriately. This is their job, and they are licensed for it.

Now that we have covered the emptying process for a septic tank, it is imperative that we consider what is involved in emptying a cesspit.

Cesspit Emptying

As mentioned earlier, a cesspit is only different from a septic tank in that it is sealed, fully enclosed and has no outlet. It does not filter the waste in any way and gets full quicker than the septic tank. It is usually used in locations where there is no access to mains drainage and where are unsuitable ground conditions for a septic tank.

It is important to have a routine cesspit emptying by a licensed waste professional who will dispose of the waste at a registered site. The emptying is usually done in more frequent intervals than the septic tank (usually monthly or quarterly) depending on the size of the family.

It is important to ensure that your cesspit remains in the most optimal possible condition by using bio-friendly household cleaning products and keeping the tank away from dangerous flammable liquids or medicines.

What to do when you have an Insurance Claim over a Septic Tank problem?

Given the dynamics of the claims handled over the years, it does not come to us as a shock that most people are still not aware that they are covered under pre-existing buildings insurance policies against damaged septic tanks, cesspits, soakaways, and other sewage treatment systems. This is usually because most insurance policies often get daunting to understand under the cloak and legal and technical mumbo-jumbo.

In most cases, this insurance coverage plan will be contained in your policy documents, in the section referred to as ‘accidental damage to underground services’ and they must be due to the external actions caused by you as the policyholder.

Care must also be taken to ensure that this coverage plan defined as the standard part of the policy as not just an addon. We do not need to tell you how unscrupulous Insurance companies can get, do we?

You are entitled to Insurance if you have any one of these septic tank problems:

  • Water ingress through a split or crack
  • Root damages to a tank from nearby trees or shrubs growing through the walls of the tank or pipework
  • Missing or damaged Tee pipes
  • Cracked or bending tanks.
  • Splits or fractures within the walls of the tank

What do you do when you have any of these issues?

As a policyholder, you have a number of options in exercising your claims. You can decide to:

  • Call the Insurance company by yourself
  • Hire a Drainage Claims Management Agency

Well, this is our candid advice: Hire a reputable Drainage Claims Management Agency. This is because spoofing through insurance policy documents can be off-putting and that is exactly the intentions of insurance companies – to frustrate you with technicalities until you give up on the entire situation. But Claims Management agencies chew insurance documents for a living, and they are always to go all out against the insurance company with a brawl.

In clear terms, here are the exact steps we advise that you take:

  • Call the Drainage Claims Management Agency and strike up a hire
  • Ensure to provide complete and relevant details
  • Work with them as they get your claims registered
  • Negotiate a settlement when your problems have been fixed

Protecting yourself from Insurance Claims Rejection

The sordid tales of most insurance is how often they tend to reject claims and leave policyholders stranded. To protect yourself, we will highlight some of the reason Insurance companies reject claims and how you can protect yourself.

  • They act based on the Opinion of their Specialists: it is common to find that most insurance companies have their exclusive specialists that do their assessments. Typically, these specialists are to ‘big’ to have actual and accurate knowledge of how drainage system work, hence they do shoddy work and promptly sing the refusal song to the insurance company. In these situations, make sure that your case gets taken to the Ombudsman committee who will have a thorough look at the situation.
  • They get fixated on the cause of the Damage. Usually, insurance companies will get unnecessarily hung up on the cause of the damage that is almost impossible to prove what has happened to a drainage system which is underground. Well, how many people sit their septic tank to find out when damage occurs. In this situation, all you have to do is prove what happened to your septic tank and that it meets with the definition of accidental ‘damage’ set down in the policy statement.

For more information, or to get in touch to discuss your situation in more details, get in touch with our specialists here.

So You Want to Become a Farmer?

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Farming is an old industry, but it’s come a long way from the days of one solitary farmer tending a few crops and sheep. Nowadays farming is far more technologically advanced and split into different divisions, with separate farms for dairy, poultry or crops like wheat and barley. The farming industry is much more varied than people might imagine, with a whole range of careers and jobs available, from machine operators to horticulture, nutrition, consultancy, crop growers, dairy farmers and more.

Working in agriculture is very rewarding, but can be hard work, with a lot of manual labour and working in all weathers. However, the connection with the land and the rewards gained are like no other, so if you’ve ever considered a career in farming or agriculture, read on to see what you need to get started.


It’s definitely not essential to have a degree to enter the farming profession, and a lot of farmers are born into the family business and gain experience through observation and practice as they grow up. However, degrees in agriculture are available, and as farming becomes more modernised it can be extremely helpful to have some formal training as well as practical experience. Agricultural degrees cover all aspects of farming including biology, agricultural science, production and global food science, with the option to specialise in areas such as organic farming, plant diseases and crop development. For those who don’t want to go to university, there are sites dedicated to explaining all the different routes you can take to enter the farming business, be that through diplomas, work experience or apprenticeships. For those choosing an undergraduate degree, most courses require at least two A levels (preferably in science subjects) and some practical experience is always a great advantage.

Apprenticeships and training

Apprenticeships are a great option as you gain qualifications while working on the job – as well as getting paid. Apprenticeships can specialise in several different roles, including farm worker, livestock technician and agriculture machinery operator.

Higher level apprenticeships can lead all the way up to becoming an assistant farm manager, hatchery supervisor and more, so there’s plenty of opportunity to progress.

Work experience

Whether you’re studying for a formal degree or not, work experience is absolutely crucial before entering a career in the farming industry. Universities may be able to advise on internships or placements through the course, or you can gain experience through hands-on work with experienced farmers. Some farms offer their own internships and there are plenty of places that will need help with seasonal jobs like fruit picking. Of course this is all a lot more practical if you live near the countryside, but many cities do have inner city farms so don’t let that put you off. There are even organisations that can organise farming work experience placements abroad, where candidates volunteer in exchange for free room and board.

Every farmer needs the right equipment and reliable services they can trust, and at JH Willis & Son we have plenty. With everything on offer from muck spreaders to ploughs, tractor hire, sowing and round baling, we have everything you need to keep your farm running smoothly and efficiently. Don’t hesitate to visit our website to see the full range of agricultural services and machinery on offer.

Why Septic Tank Emptying Is So Important

By | Blog

When it comes to the maintenance of your home there are lots of different things to keep on top of. For many people, cleaning and emptying your septic tank regularly is probably not the first thing that you think of – after all, out of sight can mean out of mind. Emptying your septic tank regularly is, however, extremely important and should not be overlooked or forgotten.

Failing to clean and empty your septic tank can lead to a number of unpleasant problems and issues that you will most certainly want to avoid, which is why it is very important to get clued up when it comes to your septic system and the maintenance required. Below we have put together a guide on why emptying your septic tank is so important.

What is a septic tank?

A septic tank is an underground watertight chamber that is made of either plastic, concrete or fiberglass. This chamber collects and treats sewage and wastewater produced by kitchen drains and bathrooms at properties that are not connected to main sewer systems. They are far more common in rural areas than in big cities, which usually have large sewer systems.

How does a septic tank work?

A septic tank works by separating sewage and wastewater into three different layers: scum, liquid effluent and sludge. The layer of scum is made up of materials that float on water such as fats, oil and grease. The second layer is made up of liquid waste and the third bottom layer, sludge, is made up of materials that are more dense than water (the solid portion). The bacteria that thrives in these three layers breaks down and liquifies the layers of scum and sludge, allowing them to degrade into the liquid layer. Typically, water leaves a house through one main drainage pipe which leads to a septic tank. The liquid wastewater layer exits the tank into a drainfield: a shallow pit of unsaturated soil. This soil filters through the wastewater while treating it.

Causes of blockages and damage

Septic tank emptying is very important, and failing to empty your septic tank correctly can lead to a number of different issues, such as a build-up or blockage. Worse still, incorrect maintenance can lead to overflow issues. Signs of a damaged septic tank include the smell of sewage, your drainage slowing down, wastewater backing up into your household drains, pools of effluent on the surface of the tank and unusually green grass around your system.

Damage, blocks and overflows can be caused by a number of issues:

  • Dangerous gasses. When sewage is decomposing it has the potential to turn into hydrogen sulphide which can then turn into sulphuric acid. This can attack the inside of the tank, causing the baffle to crumble and therefore leak.
  • Rusting and cracking. Septic tanks can corrode (depending on the type of chamber that you have) from toxic gasses inside the tank, or simply from rust. The concrete inside the tank is also susceptible to cracking due to the pressure.
  • Tree roots. Tree roots can play a big factor in septic tank leakages. Typically, roots get into the tank through a damaged inlet or through the seal around the lid. It is usually difficult to tell if there is a problem with a tree root in your septic tank as it is underground and hidden.
  • Everyday items. Blockages can be caused by various items being flushed down our toilet or kitchen drains, such as cigarettes, dental floss, baby wipes, sanitary items, cotton buds and other non-biodegradable items.
  • Age of septic tank. The age and condition of your septic tank is important and could be the reason for any leaks or blockages. Some septic tanks can be extremely old and therefore work less efficiently than modern ones.
  • Septic tank maintenance. The maintenance of your septic tank is very important and a common misconception is that once you have a septic tank, you do not need to do anything. Failing to have your septic tank emptied regularly can lead to blockages.

Benefits of septic tank emptying

Regularly emptying your septic tank has many advantages that go far beyond just preventing bad smells and avoiding blocked toilets and drains. Other benefits of septic tank emptying include:

  • Extend the life of the tank. Emptying your septic tank regularly and removing solids from wastewater ensures that the drainfield and soil absorption area does not become clogged up. If this area does become clogged it can cause your septic system to fail and reduce the lifespan.
  • Protect the environment. Damaged or overflowing septic tanks can be extremely damaging for the environment. Chemicals that are used in septic tanks can be very dangerous if they leak and can cause a number of issues for the environment. An overflowing tank can contaminate the ground with dangerous pathogens and viruses which can be harmful to the environment. Prolific plant growth caused by overflowing tanks can also lead to algae blooms, which can result in the blooms of toxic cyanobacteria. Cyanobacterial mass populations can lead to water quality problems leading to both animal and human poisonings.
  • Good health. A poorly maintained septic tank can lead to improperly treated sewage and wastewater, contaminating the surface and groundwater. This can lead to pathogens in your drinking water, potentially spreading harmful diseases such as dysentery and hepatitis.
  • Property value. Naturally, no one wants to buy a home that has potential issues, especially when it comes to blocked toilets and drains, horrible smells and a leaking septic system – all of which can cause a number of unpleasant issues. A poorly maintained septic tank can put buyers off your home after inspection and reduce the value of your property.
  • Financial savings. Having your tank cleaned and emptied regularly by a company means that they will be able to spot any possible issues or potential damage early on, and can advise you on preventing these problems before they occur. This will save you from having to spend a lot of money on getting your entire septic system replaced if an unresolved issue caused the system to fail. The cost of septic tank pumping far outweighs the cost of a brand new tank entirely.

Septic tank cleaning: how often should you do it?

Generally, it is recommended that you empty your septic tank around once a year. Even if your septic tank is not completely full, you should have it emptied regularly to keep it in good condition and to ensure that it continues to work correctly. Other factors to take into consideration when deciding on how regularly to empty your tank include the number of people that live in your household and the water usage in your property, the size of your tank, the age of your tank and the weather (for example, torrential rain can overload the drainage field and stop the tank from emptying).

What is the difference between septic tank emptying and cesspit emptying?

Septic tanks and cesspits both serve the same purpose: they are buried underground and collect sewage and wastewater. While a septic tank has a drainage system that treats wastewater and filters the water back into the ground, a cesspit has no treatment or drainage process. This means that a cesspit needs to be emptied more regularly as they do not have an outlet and the only way for the water to leave the tank is by being manually emptied by a registered waste handler. Septic tanks should be checked and emptied annually whereas cesspits may need to be emptied monthly or quarterly, depending on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used.

J H Willis and Son: Septic tank emptying and servicing

The best way to keep your septic system in top condition and to avoid potential leaks, blockages and damage is to have regular inspections, maintenance and emptying by a professional company. Here at J H Willis and Sons, our team of experts provide regular domestic and commercial maintenance and routine emptying in the North West of England to ensure that your septic tank functions smoothly and efficiently, taking the stress off you.

We are passionate about minimising the environmental impact of waste disposal which is why we work closely in collaboration with the Environment Agency and Environmental Health. All of our waste is disposed of responsibly to licensed premises.

To discuss your septic pumping and waste management requirements, simply get in touch with us today. We also provide agricultural contracting services and industrial waste management services.

close up of septic tank opening and tube

Cesspit emptying and the environment

By | Blog

If your home isn’t connected up to mains sewage, you’re more than likely using a cesspit or septic tank. Equally, if you run a temporary or rural site like a building plot or campsite, a cesspit or septic tank system could be your best sewage and drainage solution. Although both systems are far simpler than a mains sewage system, they do require plenty of maintenance and general looking after. This is not only because they are essential to the running of your home or site, but also because a dysfunctional system can have adverse effects on the environment.

At J H Willis & Son, we are registered waste management specialists and, because we’re registered with the Environment Agency, you can trust that our solutions promote the health of the environment as well as human health too. We regularly clean and empty cesspits and septic tanks, so we’re the best people to discuss all of your liquid waste concerns with. To learn more about keeping a cesspit and making sure it’s complying with environmental standards, read on.

What are cesspits?

Cesspits are the in the same family as septic tanks in that they act as replacements for mains sewage systems. Like septic tanks, they tend to be used in rural areas at homes or businesses which aren’t connected to the mains sewage but are close to a water source or drinking water supply, meaning a septic tank system wouldn’t be suitable. Both cesspits and septic tanks are in place to collect sewage and wastewater produced by kitchen drains and bathrooms in both domestic and commercial properties.

Unlike septic tanks, cesspits don’t have any form of drainage system which separates or distributes waste elsewhere, they simply store waste. These on-site sewage facilities are usually discreetly buried underground, with a manhole cover for access by your local waste collection team. The lack of a filtration system is the key difference between a septic tank and a cesspit and is precisely why cesspits require far more maintenance and cleaning.

The importance of cesspit and septic tank cleaning and maintenance

Cesspit and septic system maintenance can be a confusing process as both have different requirements. When it comes to septic tanks, the rules and regulations are much stricter due to the fact that they are drained out into water or onto the ground. Firstly, the waste that goes into a septic tank must be domestic. This means that the waste must come from a toilet, bathroom, shower or kitchen of a house, flat or business (used by people, for example, a pub, hotel or office). If you own a septic tank and you believe your sewage isn’t domestic, you should contact your local liquid waste management company or the Environment Agency. Secondly, your septic tank must not produce pollution. To know if your waste causes pollution, check for bad smells and poor drainage or, if you release sewage into water, check for smells, overflowing sludge and white scum or foam.

When it comes to cesspits, the regulations aren’t as strict because the waste is contained within a controlled environment, i.e. inside your cesspit. However, this means that cesspits must be periodically cleaned and emptied once a month by a registered waste handler. This does slightly depend on the amount of waste you produce, but regular cesspit emptying should be a priority if you own one. This will prevent excessive build-up, flooding and overflow.

Legal requirements

It is extremely important to prevent your cesspit from overflowing, as in the UK, owning an overflowing or leaking cesspit is an offence under the 1936 Public Health Act. Equally, if the overflow subsequently pollutes a watercourse, the Environment Agency can take legal action under the Water Resources Act 1991. The main symptoms of an overflowing cesspit or septic tank are pungent bad smells, slow drainage, wastewater backup and unusually green grass around the system.

Environmental benefits

Although looking after your cesspit or septic tank can be time-consuming, costly and require the adoption of new habits, overall it can be a more environmentally friendly solution and can keep you ‘off-grid’. So, as well as keeping you in the law’s good books, properly maintaining your cesspit is very important for the environment around where you live. The environmental benefits of regularly emptying your cesspit or septic tank are:

  • Chemicals used in septic tanks can be very dangerous if they leak into the surrounding environment, so cleaning them regularly reduces the risk of this.
  • These chemicals and the contents of your cesspit or tank can contaminate the ground with dangerous pathogens and viruses.
  • If you don’t empty your tank and it overflows, this can leads to algae blooms resulting in growth of toxic cyanobacteria.
  • The presence of cyanobacterial mass populations can lead to water quality problems and even animal and human poisonings.

Advantages for people and animals

The good thing about cesspits and septic tanks is that they rely on natural processes. Commercial waste treatment plants often use artificial and potentially hazardous chemicals. When a drainage system is connected to a septic tank and the waste is released into the tank, the waste is broken down by healthy bacteria, rendering the waste products harmless and avoiding environmental contamination.

Equally, when waste is released into a cesspit, it stays contained within the pool and, if looked after properly, won’t get released into the surrounding area. This means that communicable illness is far less likely to spread, keeping your family and your pets healthy.

Below, we list a few tips for keeping your off-mains sewage tank healthy, in order to keep you and your environment healthy too:

  • Dispose of non-biodegradable materials elsewhere. For example, grease, sanitary items, nappies, toiletries, paint etc.
  • Try not to put strong chemically-based products down your drains, including drain cleaners, bleach and antibacterial cleaners.
  • Try to limit the amount of food waste that goes down your drains, such as coffee grounds and other small bits of food. Invest in a plug catcher and a food waste bin.

J H Willis & Sons: Environmentally-friendly liquid waste removal

Here at J H Willis & Sons, we understand the importance of regularly cleaning, emptying and generally maintaining septic tanks and cesspits, both for the surrounding environment and the human population. This is why we work closely with the Environment Agency and local councils in order to minimise the environmental impact of waste products. This also enables our customers to ensure they’re complying with government guidelines and regulations.

When we visit a customer’s site, we carry out a cesspit or septic tank inspection to ensure it’s being used properly. An inspection should never be carried out by anyone other than registered waste removal specialists like ourselves; opening up a cesspit or septic tank can be extremely dangerous as, without the correct gear, you can be easily overcome by

the fumes and potentially collapse into the tank.

Once we’ve carried out a thorough inspection, we then begin the emptying and cleaning process. The waste material that we collect is brought to our three farms which cover 1,250 acres and stored in our bio treatment storage lagoons. To make the process as environmentally friendly as possible, we then use the treated waste across our crop cultivation areas in relation to the rotation of crops being grown. This returns valuable minerals to the soil which would otherwise not be utilised, for example in a commercial waste system.

Industrial waste management services in Cheshire

So, if you own a cesspit or septic tank in the Cheshire area and you find yourself wondering, “where can I find septic tank cleaning near me?”, look no further than J H Willis & Sons. Since 1965 we’ve been developing our experience and knowledge in order to minimise the effects of domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural waste disposal on the environment. As a fully licensed waste management company working closely with the Environment Agency, Cheshire County Council and Environmental Health, you can trust that our solutions are not only eco-friendly but also efficient and regulated.

If you’d like any assistance or advice on keeping a cesspit or septic tank, or you’d like to discuss waste management at your agricultural or industrial site, you can get in touch with us online or give us a call on (0151) 356 0351.

Signs it’s time to empty your septic tank

By | Blog

If you own a septic tank, you’ll understand just how important it is to keep it well maintained and emptied regularly. An overflowing tank can cause a number of issues, from causing a variety of health problems to affecting the local environment, so it’s important to ensure that you act quickly if you think your septic tank may be leaking.

Here are just three signs that your septic tank is overflowing and is in need of being pumped:


Unpleasant odours

If you’ve noticed an unpleasant smell in your back garden, it could be a sign that your septic tank is ready to be emptied. Septic tanks are designed to collect waste from your toilets and sinks and are therefore naturally very odorous, however, this should be contained for the sake of you and your neighbours. If you’ve noticed a funny smell in your back garden or have started receiving complaints from people in the local area, it may be time to have your tank emptied.


Puddles of water

An overflowing septic tank is likely to leak, which could, in turn, cause your lawn to flood. As the tank fills, excess water will be forced out into your garden and will collect in puddles – a sure sign that your tank has exceeded full capacity. If you’ve experienced a lot of rain in the last few days, large pools of water could just be a sign that your grass is too waterlogged to absorb any more. However, if there hasn’t been a rain cloud in sight for days, you may need to have your tank pumped.


Poorly functioning drains

Toilets, sinks and bathtubs that aren’t flushing or draining as quickly as usual could indicate that it’s time to have your septic tank pumped. This may not seem like an urgent matter, but it’s important to act quickly to prevent a full sewage back-up from happening in your home. Not only would this be extremely unpleasant, but large amounts of hazardous waste finding their way back into your property could be very unhealthy.


J.H. Willis & Son: Waste management and removal experts based in Cheshire

Could it be time to have your septic tank emptied? If yes, look no further than the waste disposal specialists at J.H. Willis & Son. We’re experts in emptying both domestic and commercial septic tanks for clients in Cheshire and are dedicated to meeting all required safety standards. We also work alongside the Environmental Agency, Cheshire County Council and Environmental Health to ensure that we’re disposing of all waste responsibly and in line with all environmental standards.

For more information about our range of waste management and removal services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at J.H. Willis & Son today.