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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE LEVELS in SEPTIC TANKS
SEWAGE NITROGEN CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This cesspool maintenance & repair article describes the criteria used to show that a cesspool has failed, or that a cesspool is at the end of its life and needs to be replaced. If a cesspool shows the conditions described below, pumping it out, aerating it (dangerous) or other cesspool service or cesspool maintenance procedures may be simply a waste of money and in some cases can be dangerous too.
This article is part of our series: CESSPOOLS which explains what a cesspool (or in the U.K. and in Australia & New Zealand, a soakpit) is, gives important safety and maintenance advice for cesspool systems, and defines the criteria for cesspool failure. We also provide critical safety warnings concerning cesspool systems as with some older and especially site-built cesspools there is a risk of dangerous collapse or cave-ins. Also see CESSPOOL AGE ESTIMATES and CESSPOOL SAFETY WARNINGS.
This material is a chapter of our Septic Systems Online Book: That document explains septic system inspection procedures,defects in onsite waste disposal systems, septic tank problems, septic drainfield problems, checklists of system components and things to ask. Septic system maintenance and pumping schedules.
Citation of this article by reference to this website and brief quotation for the sole purpose of review are permitted. Use of this information in books or pamphlets for sale is reserved to the author. Technical review by industry experts has been completed; reviewers are listed below. Further review comments and content suggestions are welcome. Home buyers who want less technical advice should see the Home Buyer's Guide to Septic Systems. Also see The Septic Systems Home Page.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
When inspecting a cesspool or soakpit, how do we know how much capacity it has to handle sewage at a property, and how do we know when it is at or near the end of its useful life? The cesspool failure indicators listed below can prevent a property owner from wasting money pumping or otherwise "servicing" a system that really needs to be replaced. If you insist on pumping out a septic system that is at the end of its life, the remaining period of use is likely to be quite short - the pumping cost might have been better spent towards replacing the system since an end-of-life cesspool is going to fill up again in just a few days of usage.
Failure Criteria for Cesspools [generally also applies as well to soakpits, drywells, and seepage pits]: If the waste level is within 12" of the inlet pipe near the top of a cesspool the system is at end of life and needs to be replaced. Some municipalities and experts will state other distances. In Massachusetts according to the Massachusetts Title 5 Septic Law the following are considered a failed or unacceptable cesspool installation:
A cesspool or soakpit needs replacement if it meets any of these failure criteria. While a septic company may offer to pump, partially pump out, or agitate or aerate the bottom sludge in the cesspool in an effort to extend its life, these procedures are potentially very dangerous (see Cesspool safety Warnings and at best will give only temporary relief.
Pre-cast concrete soakpits or cesspools are a safer construction than a site-built stone or concrete block soakpit or cesspit, but
Watch out: even a pre-cast concrete soakpit or cesspool is very unsafe if it does not have a sound and secure cover that protects from someone falling into the system. Details are at CESSPOOL SAFETY WARNINGS.
Fortunately there are alternative onsite wastewater disposal alternative designs which can handle limited or even zero-space sites, so a simple cesspool as a destination for blackwater is no longer the only choice for limited-space sites.
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Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books