What is a Cesspool Vs. Cesspit Vs. Septic Tank | EDS

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What is the difference between cesspits and cesspools?

Cesspit vs cesspool: Prior to the 1936 Public Health Act, cesspits and cesspools were different things. Cesspits looked like wells, as they were circular brick chambers built about 2 metres deep in the ground and acted like a soakaway.

The logic behind the design of the cesspit was flawed, and the drains would eventually just back up. So the Public Health Act prohibited the use of cesspits, and other drainage methods had to be used from then on, such as cesspools and septic tanks. After this cesspits and cesspools came to mean the same thing.

What is a cesspool/cesspit? 

A modern cesspool or cesspit is a watertight, fibreglass storage tank which holds sewage and is stored underground in a pit. It does not have an outlet or carry out any treatment process, and the only piping is to release gases which accumulate in the tank.

Cesspools require regular emptying by a licensed waste disposal company, which is why they are usually a temporary solution. The regularity of emptying differs depending on the size of the property, the size of the tank, and the number of occupants. Cesspools are normally used in locations which don’t have access to mains drainage, and holiday homes, campsites and places where the discharge of effluent into the ground is not possible due to unsuitable soil conditions.

Ideally, cesspits are fitted with an alarm that notifies you when the tank is at capacity, this is the safest way to check when it needs emptying. It is not advised for someone to open the lid to check the level, as the cesspit will emit hazardous, noxious gases, which are dangerous for a person to inhale.

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What is a septic tank?

Septic tank vs cesspool: a septic tank is quite similar to a cesspit as the tank construction is almost the same. It is also stored underground and is not connected to a main sewer system. However, a septic tank is a component of a sewage treatment system where the wastewater, or effluent, drains into a soakaway after treatment.

The tank has two or three chambers which separate waste into liquids and solids, and then the liquids (effluent) move through an outlet into a soakaway chamber or drainage system.

When it comes to choosing a cesspit or septic tank, the choice depends on a number of factors, including location, regulation, and size of the building or the home.

Cesspit vs soakaway: a soakaway, also known as a drainage field, is a piping system which is designed to spread liquids evenly into the surrounding soil. Usually, soakaway septic tanks need to be emptied of the residual solid waste every 12 months by a professional company to ensure there are no blockages.

In summary:

Having a cesspool can become costly long-term, and they are not the most eco-friendly choice as the untreated effluent could overflow into the surrounding environment. Septic tanks have a treatment system, so they are safer, but if possible, it is recommended that the most affordable and convenient option for any location is to connect to a mains drainage system.

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