Before septic tanks were common, sewage from homes was often disposed of in covered vertical pits called cesspools. The cesspool was an early predecessor of the current-day septic system, providing a subsurface system for disposal of waterborne sewage. The use of cesspools was primarily driven by convenience, and their location was governed mainly by the nearest available land. Sometimes cesspools were constricted in the basements of urban buildings.
Cesspools are now viewed as undesirable by public health officials due, in part to historical experiences with overused and failed systems as well as increased concerns for groundwater protection.
A typical cesspool is a cylindrical hole in deep soil, several feet in diameter. There is usually a porous inner wall of stone, masonry, precast concrete rings, or other material strong enough to shore up the soil. The outer surface (between the masonry wall and the outer soil wall) is filled with gravel. There is a concrete lid and, on top of that, soil is backfilled to grade.
Raw wastewater flows into the top of the inner chamber. The inner chamber retains and partially digests the solids, and the effluent seeps through to the gravel-filled outer chamber, and then into the surrounding soil.
Operation & Maintenance
The system is designed to provide treatment and disposal for normal domestic sewage. No non-biodegradable material should be introduced into the wastewater treatment and disposal system. Plastic and paper (except toilet paper) are examples of non-biodegradable materials that should not be placed down the drain. Normal amounts of dirt and small non-biodegradable debris (buttons, dental floss, etc.) from washing will inevitably get into the system. These solids will be retained in the septic tank until it is pumped during its normal maintenance. Oils and grease should not be placed down the drain in excess quantities. Normal washing of greasy dishes is not considered excessive. Routinely draining fat from a frying pan, deep fryer, or roasting pan down the drain would be considered excessive.
Real Estate Transactions and Cesspool Regulations
Effective June of 2012, properties serviced by a cesspool, privy, outhouse, latrine, or pit toilet may not be transferred without upgrading to a septic system. (NJAC 7:9A-3.16(b)). The regulations allow limited exceptions to this rule, such as a conveyance between family members or former spouses. (NJAC 7:9A-3.16(c)). In addition, construction, installation, alternation, or repair of cesspools, privies, outhouses, latrines, and pit toilets are no longer allowed (NJAC 7:9A-1.6(g). If the local Board of Health discovers that such a system is in need of repair, the system must be abandoned and replaced with a properly engineered and approved septic system. (NJAC 7:9A-3.16(a)).
Cesspool Regulations as a Property Owner
If you currently own a property with a cesspool on the property, we can determine for you whether or not the cesspool can be repaired or according to your township regulations may need to be replaced.
- Control Panels:
- Sewage Pump Control Panels – Indoor/Outdoor use – 115v/208v/230v/240v
- Simplex Pump Control Panels
- Duplex Pump Control Panels
- High Water Alarms
- 2HP Grinder Pump Control & Alarm Panels
- Storm Drain Catch Basins
- Drain Cleaning Services
- High Pressure Jetting
- Power Snaking
- TV & Video Inspections & locating
- Sewer Lines Replaced or Repaired
- Specialized Cutters & Blades for Clogged Sewer Lines