Cesspool Vs. Septic Tank: What’s The Differences And Which One To Get?

“Should I get a cesspool or should I get a septic tank?” this is a dilemma many people go through.

Have you ever asked yourself this question? If you have, then I will be sharing all the information regarding that. 

 Here I will take you through a complete overview of cesspool vs. septic tank. By the end of it, you will know which drainage system you should pick.

So, let’s check the difference between cesspool and septic tank without further blabbering. 

What Is A Cesspool?

cesspool installation

A cesspool or cesspit is an underground tank that holds wastewater and sewage inside it. It’s a pit made of concrete, bricks, or cement.

It doesn’t involve any processing in the waste collection: all the waste and junk flow inside it. There is usually a manhole cover that covers up a cesspool drainage system. 

The working process of a cesspool is pretty easy to understand. A cesspool collects wastewater from the house.

It stores that water inside until the soil that is placed surrounding the wall drains that water inside. This process is fairly slow and requires a lot of time to proceed. 

In truth, there are not many benefits or good sides to a cesspool. As the waste can easily clog up and cause distress to people who are living around the area.

The soil constantly draining the water causes the area to smell bad. Also, it requires a lot of maintenance to keep a cesspool clean. All in all, a cesspool can be troublesome. 

 Another factor here is that a cesspool can contaminate groundwater very easily. As the soil soaks up the wastewater, it travels into groundwater, filling them up with waste.

So, it’s not friendly to the environment at all. 

 What Is A Septic Tank? 

septic tank installation

A septic tank is also a kind of pit that holds wastewater and sewage. However, instead of draining the water slowly, a septic tank holds wastewater.

And until you pump a septic tank, it will hold that water without causing any distress. 

Now, the working procedure of a septic tank is similar to a cesspool. But instead of constant draining, a septic tank keeps the water in place.

There are usually two layers. One layer has all the solid waste or slugs. And the other layer sends the liquid waste away.  

There are a lot of benefits to using a septic tank. For example, it doesn’t harm the environment in any way. Most septic tanks have a filtration system for eliminating pollution as much as possible.

Also, due to the system being built with concrete and bricks, there is no chance of leaking pipes at all.  

With a septic tank, you won’t have to worry about maintenance at all. They require pumping every 2 to 5 years.

So, you can take a step back from maintenance if you want. However, regular cleaning of the tank may not be a bad idea; it helps the tank function much better.

And a septic tank can last for a long time, and sometimes it can last for a lifetime as well. Yes, it has some problems too and many people don’t have the right soil condition to install it. So, they go for other septic tank alternatives.

Differences Between Cesspool And Septic Tank

cesspool vs. septic tank

Even though the basic function and concept of cesspool and septic tank are similar, they have many differences. 

  • Cesspool systems are attached to the soil that works as a drainage end. The Septic system doesn’t have anything like that. They are completely made of concrete and have no connection with groundwater or soil. 
  • Cesspool systems are based on slow drainage through the soil. At the same time, septic systems store the wastewater until they are pumped clear. 
  • Cesspool systems need a lot of cleaning every once in a while. Going for a septic tank pumping every 2 to 4 years is enough to keep the septic tanks clean. 
  • Cesspool systems can be the reason for the bad smell around your house. There is no instance of a septic tank emitting a bad smell at all. 
  • Septic tanks have two different layers for waste management. In the case of a cesspool, all kinds of waste go to one single pit. 

Watch this video to learn more about their differences and which one should you get.

How Do I Know If I Have A Cesspool Or Septic Tank?

Now, the question is, how would you know whether you have a cesspool or a septic tank? Well, that’s very easy to notice. 

Suppose you have to clean your drainage system every year or in 2 to 4 years. Then it’s probably a septic tank system.

Also, if you see 2 to 5 manholes close to each other, then that’s a septic tank drainage. Sometimes you will get to see some vent pipes as well. These are used for transmitting the smells from the tanks. 

On the other hand, if you have to clean your drainage system regularly, it’s most probably a cesspool. Because cesspools get filled with waste very quickly, you will see only one manhole on the ground in the case of a cesspool. 

How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Cesspool To A Septic Tank?

Now that you know the difference between septic tank and cesspool, let’s get to the real question.

By now, you are probably planning to convert your cesspool to a septic tank. Now, converting cesspool to septic cost can go more than $4000.

The amount goes higher depending on the size of the tank and how many people will be using it. However, no matter how much money spend on it initially, it will be worth it for sure. 

Is Converting To A Septic Tank Worth It? Can Everyone Convert To A Septic Tank? 

So, if you are thinking of converting a cesspool to a septic tank, I suggest you stick to your plan.

Even though the initial cost is too much to bear, it will be worth it for sure because you won’t have inconveniences like a bad smell or constant cleaning. 

But some things come into play here. 

Not every area or a place can have a septic tank. There are some requirements to be met. First of all, your area has to have access to the sewer system.

Aside from that, you will need permission to install a septic tank system. Now that depends on some factors. 

  • Do you have enough space to set up a septic tank system?
  • Is the site condition too poor for possible remediation? 
  • Is there any place viable to water sources? 

If these things don’t check out, you have to use a cesspool system.

In that case, you can always use different cesspool treatments to keep them as clean as possible because you don’t have a choice but to use a cesspool in such cases. 

You don’t have to worry about cesspool because it doesn’t cost much to set up a cesspool system. Neither does it require any special permissions or considerations. 


In short, there is nothing to debate about cesspool vs. septic tank. As you have seen throughout this article, the choice here is obvious.

If you have the proper area, required permission, and can bear the initial cost, you should always go for a septic tank. 

It’s the best drainage system you can have for your home. It won’t put you through any inconveniences. It doesn’t require much maintenance. All you do is go through a regular pumping session once a year. And maybe a slug emptying session every six months. And you will be all set. 

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