A Beginner's Guide to Cesspits: What Is It & How Does It Work

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What is a Cesspit?

A cesspit is a pit into which all the household waste, including human waste, is piped and accumulates. Unless you are buying an extremely old property, the pit will likely be built from brick and sealed to prevent any leakage.

Today, some cesspits are made from fibreglass, or brick built with a fibreglass lining. The only piping is an exhaust, to allow the escape of gases which build up in the pit. These pits require regular emptying by a licensed waste disposal company, such as Express Drainage Solutions. 



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What is a Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are of similar construction, with one big difference. The old brick tanks are not sealed. This allows the effluent to seep through the gaps in the brickwork into the surrounding soil. As it passes through the soil, it is converted from ammonia to nitrite, and then anaerobic bacteria converts nitrite to nitrate.

In modern GRP tanks, pipework is included to allow the discharge of the effluent. The solids are then broken down by bacteria until the tank requires emptying.

Cesspit costs

Chosen a property with a cesspit? Buying a house with an old septic tank? Unfortunately the news is not good. Maintaining a cesspit can be an expensive business, and its maintenance can be legally enforced by the local council, and charged to you.

On the plus side, with a cesspit you are not required to pay waste disposal costs to the local water authority. You are however, required to keep the tank in good order and pay for cesspit emptying costs and more, and these bills will far exceed those saved from the water company.


Assuming the tank fitted is the right size for the house, it will need emptying on average once every six weeks. This can only be carried out by a licensed waste disposal company using vacuum tankers.

Express Drainage Solutions offer regularly scheduled and competitively priced septic/ cesspit tank emptying at a time that suits you, reducing the risk of blocked drains or overflow. With our affordable rates, the average cost of emptying a septic tank should cease to scare you.

Our team of experts are fully equipped to cater for cesspit or septic tank clearance of any size, increasing the functionality of the units and avoiding breakdown.

Team is qualified to carry out this type of work in line with standards and regulations, such as the Health and Safety Act, The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and The Road and Street Works Act. 

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In the UK, cesspits are generally fitted as a last resort for when the surrounding ground is unsuitable for liquids to drain through, as untreated effluent would just seep through to local waterways and pollute the environment.

Because of this, leaks have to be sealed as soon as they are noticed; i.e. dropping fluid levels. The tank would require draining, cleaning and resealing.

If brick, this could mean re-rendering, sealing with a waterproof paint, or re-lining with GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic). If the tank is already GRP, it may be patched. If it has split, then a new tank may be the only solution. 

Cesspit Surveys

If you are considering purchasing a property with a cesspit, it is well worth paying the extra to have the cesspit surveyed along with the property. It could save you a far greater sum in the long run.

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Express Drainage Solutions specialise in the emptying and maintenance of all cesspits and septic tanks, operating throughout London and the wider regions to provide customers with the highest quality services.

Working in compliance with all regulations laid out in the Health and Safety Act, The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations and The Road and Street Works Act, you can rest assured that you’re in the best hands possible with Express Drainage Solutions.

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