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How Does a Cesspit Work

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  • How Does a Cesspit Work
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  • 25-10-2016
How Does a Cesspit Work

What's the Difference Between a Cesspit and a Septic Tank?

The job of a septic tank or cesspit is to collect all the sewage and wastewater from any business or construction properties or households where it is not connected to the mains sewer supply.   

The cesspit is an underground sealed tank; it actively collects all your wastewater and sewage. There is no treatment or processing of the solid waste involved inside. It is often covered by a manhole cover that allows access ideal for waste collection.   

Just like a septic tank, cesspits require maintenance and emptying regularly. Depending on the size of the tank, the number of occupants and your property/household displays the number of times a cesspit needs to be emptied, which could mean that you may need specialists to empty the tank monthly, quarterly or annually.

In comparison, septic tanks tend to use a treatment process allowing all treated wastewater to drain down the stream or soakaway. Soakaways are holes that have been dug into the rural ground and then filled with coarse stones and rubble; this allows the water to disperse into the land and locations surrounding the septic tank or drain field without causing it to flood.   

The septic tank has two separate chambers and, like the cesspit, is buried underground. When wastewater drains away into the first tank, the solids in the waste settle and decompose at the bottom, leaving the liquids and surface water to seep and flow through into the second chamber.   

It is advised to ensure all solidified sludge is removed as frequently as possible from your septic tank; ideally, you want to do so every six months. Bacteria inside your septic tank are crucial to the decomposition process; however, do not over-use any biological cleaning products like bleach. These could harm the wastewater systems and may end up blocked; strive to use biologically friendly products suitable for the household.

Whether your household or business property has a septic tank or cesspit, you can only flush human waste and toilet paper down your drainage system, sinks and toilets. No sanitary items, food waste, grease, fat, wet wipes or any other items can be disposed of in that manner.  Both require maintaining properly, and they need to be emptied and cleaned. Under the 1936 Public Health regulations, it is a public offence and guidelines to not empty or maintain your cesspit, septic tank. The reason for this is because you could put yourself, your family, your neighbourhood, and the overall community at risk.

Where are Cesspits Located?

Cesspits tend to be buried underground, as having them on your property could potentially be quite an eye-sore. Keeping them underground allows you to save room in your property and keep it looking pleasing.   

The waste pipes underground feed into the cesspit system. The cesspit can be constantly accessible from manholes, allowing qualified specialist professionals to safely and efficiently empty the sewage. You can locate an installed cesspit in the boundaries of your commercial property, out of the way of your home, yet still opened by a team of registered professionals when necessary.   

How do Cesspools / Cesspits work?

Cesspits are watertight, sealed underground tanks that hold the sewage and wastewater, collecting it without treating or processing it in any way, shape or form.   

Cesspits are discreetly buried underneath the ground, covered by a manhole cover that allows waste collection teams to successfully and safely collect and empty the cesspits. Cesspits and pools are often used in boundaries where the soil or ground is not suitable to treat the waste in a soakaway, such as sites close to drinking water supplies or water sources.   

Will you need to Modify your Water Usage Habits?

Compared to septic tanks, which require you to modify and limit your water usage and disperse it using water-efficient appliances throughout your home, the cesspit doesn't require that.   

For those whose tank discharge flows over the 2,000-5,000 litres or two-five cubic metres per day limit, you will require a permit, and you will want to modify your water use.   

However, cesspits don't require any permits, and there are no water usage guidelines or general binding rules put in place by the Environmental Agency to ensure safety. The only thing you need to be aware of with your cesspit is that the wastewater does not overflow or leak. It may be best to search for and control your water usage slightly to ensure it does not do so.   

How Does a Cesspit Work?

Suppose you're not connected to your primary sewage system. You will have to make use of alternative methods and solutions. Let's take a look at how the cesspit works. The cesspit is also referred to as a cesspool. It works slightly different than a septic tank, as it has no inlet or outlet. A cesspool will contain the sewage until it is emptied. Emptying should usually be done a few times a year, and it is disposed of into a waste disposal lorry. Also, keep in mind that this should be done by a professional.   

A septic tank is slightly similar to a cesspit but has different solid waste and liquid waste compartments. Solid waste will remain in the tank and will need to be emptied manually. Liquids are removed and cleaned with a process called percolation. It would help if you cleaned a septic tank about once or twice a year.  

If you choose between a cesspit and a septic tank, selecting a septic tank is usually the better option. But you need to make sure that it has no leaks and that it does not pose any danger to the environment or the people around you.   These options are only considered if you are not located close to a sewage network. You can also request to be linked to a sewage network where possible.  

The size of the cesspit you choose will depend on the number of people that live in the house or the building that will use it. There are specific guidelines around this. So it is always recommended to find out what size the cesspit or septic tank should be before installing it.    


Are you looking for septic tank emptying or other wastewater services? For liquid waste collection or disposal in Surrey, Sussex, Essex or the South East, follow the links below.

Contact us today for a free quote to determine the cost of the necessary services through the phone number or the email address on the website.