Difference Between Cesspool And Septic Tank

Cesspools and septic tanks are two solutions for dealing with wastewater from the home. If you are considering installing a system to manage household wastewater, it is essential to understand the differences between the two to decide which is the best option for your needs. This article will discuss the differences between a cesspool and septic tank and provide useful information on their pros and cons.

What Is a Cesspool?

A cesspool is a large hole or tank which collects wastewater and allows it to slowly filter through rock and gravel to the water table below. It provides a simple, affordable solution for homes where the sewer system is not available, or not suitable. Cesspools are usually installed in the backyard and have been largely replaced by septic tanks in many areas.

Cesspools require regular maintenance to keep them working effectively. A professional will need to empty and clean out the system every 3-4 months to prevent it from becoming clogged. If left unchecked, a cesspool can overflow and create major flooding problems.

What Is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is a large underground tank which collects household wastewater. It is connected to the main sewer line and is used to separate and treat solid waste. Once the solid waste is separated from the liquid in the tank, the liquid is discharged either into a drain field, a cesspool, or directly into the sewer system.

Unlike a cesspool, a septic tank requires less maintenance. A professional will still need to come in to inspect and pump out the tank every 3-4 years, but other than that, it will stay relatively clean. This is due to not allowing large amounts of water into the tank, which prevents solids from building up.

Advantages of Cesspools

The main advantage of cesspools is their affordable price. Installing a cesspool can be much cheaper than other wastewater solutions. It is also easier to install than a septic tank, which may require costly excavation.

Cesspools are also relatively simple to maintain. With regular service and cleaning, they can last for several years. This makes them appealing to those who don’t want to deal with the hassle of having a septic tank.

Disadvantages of Cesspools

The main disadvantage of cesspools is their short lifespan. While they can last for several years with proper maintenance, they generally need to be replaced within a decade. Replacement can be costly and disruptive, as the entire system needs to be dug up and replaced.

Cesspools also pose a potential environmental hazard, as they allow wastewater to be discharged directly into the ground. This can contaminate groundwater supplies and have serious health implications.

Advantages of Septic Tanks

The main advantage of septic tanks is their longevity. With regular servicing, a septic tank can last up to 20 years or longer. This means they require less frequent replacing, which can save money in the long-term.

Septic tanks are also much safer for the environment. As the wastewater is treated and filtered before it is discharged, there is no risk of contamination. This is especially beneficial in areas where groundwater is used for drinking water.

Disadvantages of Septic Tanks

Septic tanks can be more expensive to install than cesspools. The tank may need to be excavated and pipe work needs to be installed, which can add to the cost. The system may also need to be located away from areas of high traffic, which may mean relocating it during installation.

Septic tanks may also require costly maintenance. The tank will need to be inspected and pumped out every 3-4 years, and any issues with the system will also need to be fixed. This can add to the overall costs of having a septic tank system.

How to Choose Between a Cesspool and Septic Tank

When deciding between a cesspool and septic tank, it is important to consider your needs and budget. Cesspools are an affordable and simple solution for managing household wastewater, but they may not be the best option if longevity and environmental sustainability are high priorities. Septic tanks are more expensive and require more upkeep, but they are much more reliable and eco-friendly.

It is best to speak to a professional to find the right wastewater management system for your home. They can provide helpful advice on the pros and cons of each system and suggest the best option for your needs.

Consulting a Professional

Installing a cesspool or septic tank is a major job, and should always be done by a professional. They will be able to advise on the best system for your needs and ensure that it is properly installed. They can also provide helpful advice on how to keep your system in top condition.

It is also important to make sure that you are following the necessary regulations for wastewater management. This can vary from state to state, so it is best to consult a local regulator to make sure that you are in compliance with the law.


Cesspools and septic tanks are two solutions for dealing with household wastewater. Cesspools are simple and affordable, but may not be the best choice if longevity and environmental sustainability are key priorities. Septic tanks are more costly, but they require less maintenance and provide a much more reliable solution. It is important to decide which option is right for your needs and then consult a professional to have it properly installed.

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