Cesspit or Septic Tank?
If your home has no available connection to a mains sewer, your sewage requires a cesspit or septic tank.
How your cesspit or septic tank work
A cesspit or septic tank do not have the same purpose; they operate differently.
Septic tanks are more sophisticated systems which collect and directly treat sewage, separating the solids from the liquids:
Sewage flows into chamber one, where the solids and heavier material settle to the bottom of the unit. A small amount of anaerobic breakdown occurs at this stage.
The liquid and remaining lighter waste material then flow into the second chamber and a thin layer of scum forms at the top of the effluent, which reduces any odours. A specially designed outlet pipe is fitted to the unit to ensure that only the liquid exits the tank and drains into the percolation area.
The final treatment of the sewage occurs as it penetrates through a specially designed percolation area (drainage field) where the effluent passes through perforated pipes before discharging to ground.
When installing a new tank or upgrading it, you need to make sure you meet the ‘General Binding Rules.’ Different rules are applied depending on whether you’re releasing your sewage to the ground (back garden) or surface water (stream). If you do not meet these rules, you will have to apply for a permit from the Environment Agency. Either way, you still have to request both planning permission and building regulations approval.
At Tricel, we provide a range of durable, long lasting, and easy to install septic tanks for homeowners.
What is a cesspit
A cesspit is an underground tank with only one utility hole for access. The purpose of the tank is to collect your sewage; it doesn’t treat it in any way.
As with a septic tank, if you plan to install a new cesspit, you will require planning permission and building regulations approval to do so.
With a cesspit, you don’t have to comply with the general binding rules. However, you do need to make sure to maintain it correctly; it can’t overflow or leak.
Maintenance of your cesspit or septic tank
The way you maintain either a cesspit or septic tank differ.
You must have your septic tank emptied and checked regularly – at least once a year – by a licensed company who will ensure the sewage/sludge goes to a registered disposal site.
We recommend keeping a record of your maintenance appointments.
Besides this, you also need to maintain it yourself by:
- not flushing medicines or non-biodegradable items like diapers down the toilet,
- not cleaning your house with non-biologically-friendly cleaning products.
We recommend checking your percolation area at least once a month for signs of contamination. The Environmental Agency will fine you if you pollute the environment.
You must get your cesspit emptied regularly by a registered waste disposal company, who will dispose of the sewage at an authorised site. How often it will require emptying will depend on the number of occupants at the dwelling and usage frequency.
Again, we recommend keeping track of your emptying by keeping and logging proper receipts.
You have to regularly check the level in the tank yourself to prevent it from overflowing. Also, make sure to keep the area surrounding the utility hole clear for easy access.
To assist you in the making of your choice between a cesspit or septic tank, you can read our article which contains more details regarding how a cesspit works and functions.
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