Your Guide to Cesspools: How They Work and Common Issues

If you live in an older home in a rural area, there is a good chance that your house uses a septic system for waste management. A septic system operates much differently than a municipal sewer system, and it’s important to understand how it works and the issues that can develop in order to ensure that it operates smoothly, and to keep your home – and yourself – protected.

Septic System Defined

A septic system is a self-contained waste management system. There are two primary parts of this system: A septic tank or a well, and a drain field. More modern systems have a septic tank, but older homes may still have a well.


While a well and a septic tank operate under the same basic concept, there are some differences between the two.

  • Septic Tank – An underground tank that is connected to the main sewage line. When a toilet is flushed or something is flushed down a drain, it flows into the tank and is consumed by bacteria. The flushed waste is separated into two parts: Solid waste, which sinks to the bottom of the tank, and smaller particles, which collect at the top of the tank. When more waste is flushed into the tank, the old water that is already in the tank is pushed out into drainpipes and into a drain field.
  • Wells – A well is a large vessel that is lined with masonry. Like a septic tank, a well is also located under the house and the waste that it collects is separated; however, unlike a septic tank, there aren’t any pipes connected to the well. Instead, the wastewater seeps through tiny openings in the masonry that lines the well and moves into the ground that surrounds it.


Common Issues

There are a number of issues that can occur within a septic system. These issues can lead to costly and potentially dangerous damage.

  • Clogs – Cesspools rely on bacteria to separate the liquid waste from the solid waste, a process that can be effective, but one that certainly isn’t perfect. This could lead to the collection of solid waste in the openings of the cesspool, which can lead to a clog, which can lead to an emergency cesspool repair. When this happens, a backup of wastewater is almost certain.
  • Overfilling – A septic system has to be pumped every few years in order to ensure that the solid waste is removed. If it isn’t pumped, the solid waste will continue to build up, and this will eventually lead to an overflow.

Signs of Trouble

There are several signs that indicate you have a problem and may need a cesspool pumping. Some of the most common signs include:

  • An overwhelming foul odor coming from your drains, your toilets, or in the area near the drain field.
  • Slow-draining toilets and sinks
  • Waste backing up into the toilet or flowing out of the drains
  • Pooling water in the drain field

In order to keep your cesspool flowing smoothly, make sure you have it drained by a professional southampton cesspool service every three to five years. Also, exercise proper maintenance between having the system drained to avoid problems from developing; don’t flush inorganic waste down toilets and drains, avoid overfilling the system and don’t use a garbage disposal, for example.


To learn more about routine maintenance, getting a long island cesspool installer, or to schedule an appointment to have your cesspool pumping completed, contact us today! Our goal is to ensure your septic system is properly – and safely – running. To remove waste, call a carting service to help you.