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Understanding Cesspits and Septic Tanks: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Cesspits and septic tanks play a crucial role in managing domestic wastewater in properties that are not connected to the main sewer system. While both systems serve a similar purpose, they differ in their design, function, and maintenance requirements. In this article, we will delve into the differences between cesspits and septic tanks, their benefits, maintenance tips, and the importance of seeking professional assistance for 24/7 service.

Cesspits: A Closer Look

a cesspit and dirty drain with hose in it
understanding cesspits and septic tanks

A cesspit, also known as a cesspool, is a simple, sealed underground tank that serves as a holding vessel for sewage and wastewater. Unlike septic tanks, cesspits do not have an outlet for the effluent to drain away. Instead, they retain all the waste until it is emptied by a vacuum tanker.

Cesspits are commonly found in areas where the soil is not suitable for a septic tank soakaway system. Since they do not offer any form of treatment, they require more frequent emptying compared to septic tanks.

Septic Tanks: The Wastewater Treatment Solution

Septic tanks are designed to provide primary treatment to wastewater before it is discharged into the soil via a soakaway system. The tank holds the incoming wastewater long enough for solids to settle at the bottom, forming a layer of sludge, while lighter substances, such as grease and oils, float to the top as scum. The clarified liquid in the middle, known as effluent, is then released into the surrounding soil through a series of perforated pipes.

Septic tanks are environmentally friendly and efficient in breaking down waste, making them a popular choice for rural and suburban properties. Properly maintained septic tanks can last for decades without causing significant issues.

Benefits of Cesspits and Septic Tanks

Environmental Benefits

Both cesspits and septic tanks offer eco-friendly wastewater management solutions. By allowing natural biological processes to break down waste, they minimize the environmental impact and help protect local water sources.


Investing in a cesspit or septic tank can be cost-effective in the long run, especially for properties that are far from the main sewer lines. These systems reduce the need for extensive piping and infrastructure.

Independence from Sewer Systems

Cesspits and septic tanks provide an independent sewage solution for properties in rural areas, giving homeowners the flexibility to build where conventional sewer lines are not available.

Maintenance: Keeping Your System Efficient


Due to their limited capacity and lack of treatment capabilities, cesspits require more frequent maintenance. Regular emptying by a professional is essential to prevent overflows and backups. Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items down the drain, as they can quickly fill up the tank and disrupt its function.

Septic Tanks

Proper maintenance of septic tanks is crucial to ensure their longevity and efficient operation. Regular pumping every 3 to 5 years, depending on household size and usage, is recommended. Additionally, minimize the use of harsh chemicals and avoid disposing of non-biodegradable materials in the system.

Professional Inspection

Regular inspections by a qualified professional are essential for both cesspits and septic tanks. These inspections can identify potential issues early on and ensure that your system is functioning optimally.

Avoid Overloading

Be mindful of water usage to avoid overloading the system. Fix any leaks promptly and consider implementing water-saving measures to reduce the strain on your cesspit or septic tank.

Don't let your cesspit or septic tank cause unnecessary headaches. If you need reliable and professional 24/7 service for your wastewater management system, give us a call at 0800 135 7532 or email us at Our team of experts is ready to assist you with maintenance, repairs, and any other septic tank or cesspit-related needs.

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