Cesspit | Cesspool Supply | Problems

WTE are specialist Cesspit ( Cesspool ) suppliers. We manufacture cesspits, cesspools, septic tanks and sewage plants.

A Cesspit ( cesspool ) is purely a holding tank without an outlet. There is no intent to treat or discharge the sewage and the cesspit is simply a holding tank to collect waste and store it. A cesspit and a cesspool are the same thing. A cesspit is not a septic tank as it does not have an outlet for the liquid part of the waste to drain away. If you have a drainfield or soakaway, you have a septic tank problem, not a cesspit problem

Septic Tank (often called CESSPIT) Problems

septic tank problems

Many people confuse a cesspool and a cesspit with a septic tankcesspool image

Unlike a cesspit, septic tanks do provide a rudimentary sewage treatment and have an outlet for the liquid part of the waste to drain away to a soakaway. As a result, a septic tank only needs emptying once a year. Cesspits do not have this outlet. Everything that goes in, stays in and has to be removed by a vacuum tanker.

Cost of operating a cesspit (cesspool)

 A Cesspool requires emptying on a very frequent basis around every 45 days or so, depending on use or when it is almost full. It cost the average person living in a house £2000/year in emptying charges, or £8000/year for a family of 4 people. It is often financial suicide to buy a house with a cesspool.

Click here for details of all the sewage treatment options available as a cesspool should be installed only as a last resort, if your soil fails the soakaway tests and you have no watercourse or surface water drain that you can discharge sewage treatment plant liquid into. Even then, we may be able to design an above ground mound soakaway to enable you to have a sewage treatment plant. Anything is better than a cesspool.

 There are some very good sewage treatment plants available, some of which don't require any electricity.

A Cesspool is illegal in Scotland.

A cesspit acts as a temporary solution for locations without mains drainage where the discharge of treated effluent is not permissible due to unsuitable ground conditions (ruling out a septic tank) and lack of a ditch, stream or surface water drain, (ruling out a sewage treatment plant), or where infrequent use, (for example, a rural church) would not prove too costly for the tankerage costs.

Cesspits must be installed as a holding tank, on campsites, to receive chemical toilet waste which would kill a septic tank or sewage treatment plant. 

Standard sizes range from 18,000 litres to 84,000 litres, however larger tanks, up to 220,000 litres are available. Please ask for further details.

Cesspit and Cesspool Problems

Many homes do not have enough land for the installation of a cesspit. A cesspool for a 4 bedroom house must be a minimum of over 42,000 litres capacity, which results in a tank that is over 11 metres long and 2 metres wide. All of this tank must be a minimum of 7 metres from a building and 2 metres from a boundary and many modern homes do not have a large enough garden to fit one in.

A Cesspool can smell quite badly as is has to be vented to allow excess sewage gases to exit the tank.

They should have an alarm fitted in order that you are aware when the tank needs emptying.  This should be your ONLY method of checking.

On NO account should you lift the lid to check the level in the cesspit as the toxic gases can overcome you very quickly!

The cesspit can overflow or may leak, particularly if it is an old brick or block construction.  Previous owners may have knocked a hole in the tank ( more common than is realised! ) or piped the liquid into a ditch (very common)in an attempt to reduce the emptying interval.  Overflowing or leaking cesspits are an offence under the 1936 Public Health Act.  Also, if it pollutes a water course, the Environment Agency can take legal action under the Water Resources Act 1991. This can lead up to a fine of £20,000 and 3 months imprisonment.

 If you are considering buying a house that has a cesspit, always have a survey carried out to make sure that the tank is watertight. If it is, and there is no other means of sewage disposal, think very carefully about the enormous running costs and whether you can afford them.

If the cesspit leaks, a wastewater engineer should be called out to remove the waste and clear up the sewage. The cause of the leak should be found and remedied, although, if it is a fibreglass cesspit, this may be impossible.

Older brick versions will have been installed many years ago and great care should be taken to avoid walking or driving over the top of them.  They cover a very large area under the ground, up to 20 square metres, and this makes them very weak as they deteriorate.  It is not unknown for the top to collapse, in fact, several people have been killed as a result of this since the year 2000.  One of our own vans lost a front wheel into one when the top caved in.  We were lucky - the survey was to try to find the location of the cesspit!  We reversed out very carefully!

ALWAYS have the cesspit checked by a wastewater engineer prior to purchasing any property which has sealed tank drainage.

Sizing of cesspits and cesspools

British Water sizing criteria should be used when calculating the capacity of a cesspit based on a loading of 180 litres per person per day. The Building Regulations state that a cesspool should be of a sufficient capacity to hold 45 days worth of effluent. For a single dwelling 18000 litres (4000 gallons) is the minimum allowable capacity allowed and this capacity is for a single bedroomed house with two residents only. For every additional person, the size must be increased by 6800 litres, thus for a 4 bedroomed house, the cesspool size would be a whopping 42,200 litres, all to be emptied every 45 days and every litre paid for by you.

High level alarms are required in order that the level in the cesspit can be monitored and to ensure that it does not overflow. Cesspits are a very expensive option for purchase, installation and running costs.

Cesspits can only be emptied by a licensed waste disposal contractor.  A farmer is not allowed to empty a cesspit ,nor anyone who is not licensed, and the fines for illegal emptying of a cesspool are prohibitive. 

A Cesspool should only be installed if you are very wealthy and no other system is possible, as a very temporary measure, or as a holding tank for camping toilet waste.

Emptying of Cesspits and Cesspools

This can only be carried out by a Licenced Waste Disposal Contractor. If any other person empties a cesspit they are breaking the Law and a farmer can lose his Single Farm Payments from the Government.

History of the Terminology

A cesspit was originally a hole in the ground, lined with loose-fitting bricks or stone that raw sewage was either poured, piped or simply 'dropped' into from an earth toilet. Liquids in the sewage leaked out through the soil-bottom of the hole and the gaps in the bricks and into the surrounding soil. All solid matter decayed and composted in the base of the hole. As the solids built up, fine solids blocked the drainage gaps in the soil and the liquid could no longer drain away. This caused the cesspool to overflow and another cesspit hole had to be dug.

These cesspits caused massive groundwater contamination, particularly in towns and cities, resulting in Cholera and Typhoid epidemics as the sewage contaminated the water that seeped into the wells.

These holes were banned and any tank that did not primitively treat sewage had to be sealed to avoid groundwater contamination. The primitive treatment tanks were called septic tanks and the sealed ones were named cesspools, but the age-old term 'Cesspit', for both systems, is still used today.