Pre 1972 cesspool systems are interesting. An educated consumer is our best customer, and in order for you to receive the best service at a fair and reasonable price, I want you to know your set-up of your septic (cesspool) system here on Long Island.

If your house was build prior to 1972-73 you are on the right page. Here we talk about how your system is set-up and the associated problems and solutions that develop over time and use.

Click here if you have a septic system build after 1972-73.

What is a cesspool?

A cesspool is a cylinder shaped drainage system designed to leach out vast amounts of water through perkulation / percolation. The cesspool is either concrete block construction or a one-piece cylindrical concrete formation with drainage holes.

If your house was built before 1972, then you have a two or three cesspool system. The first cesspool collects solids on the surface and drains about 30% of the water.

The second and third (if you have one) are called overflow cesspools. The overflow cesspool handles about 70% of the drainage (see diagram below).

Why do cesspools fill up?

Cesspools drain water through sand (perkulation / percolation). The sand surrounding the cesspool filters out fine organic particles. As the cesspools start to fill, water pressure forces these particles deeper into the sand. This is a slow process, but over time, the sand below the cesspool saturates with organic matter, not allowing the water to drain out as fast as water is being put in.

pre 1972 cesspool system

What do you recommend for a block cesspool system?

Concrete blocks become weak and broken down from the acidity of your wastewater. Chances are good that if you have a block system that system is now more than 40 years old and needs replacement.

Block cesspools collapse when pumped out and the sand surrounding the blocks is saturated with water thereby forcing it to collapse from the outside in.

Pumping sand from the bottom of the block cesspool causes the pool to collapse because the sand acts as the base.

Improper aerating or hydro jetting (blowing air and or water to help loosen a clogged bottom) can dislodge support block causing collapse.

Improper use of chemicals, especially using too much chemicals can cause collapse.

How do I locate my cesspools?

In most cases, your property survey has a diagram where the septic system is located. If you house was built after 1972, your local town building department has a copy of your survey. Also, your local health department has a copy.

If your cesspool is buried beneath the lawn, look in your basement or crawlspace where your main drainage line exits your house. The main drainage line is a large pipe about four inches in diameter. The main drainage line links directly to your septic tank or cesspool. This gives you an indication where they are located.

The following information supplied by the Suffolk County Health Department will; help you locate your cesspool.

•  The closest a septic tank or cesspool can be located to the foundation of the house is ten feet if the house has a basement and five feet if the house is on a slab.

•  Your system must be at least 100 feet from private water wells.

•  Your system must be at least five feet inside your property line.

•  The system must be twenty feet from swimming pools.

•  The system must be at least 20 feet from storm drains.

Once you have a general idea where your septic system is located, look for a circular area of grass that appears greener than the surrounding area. Also, take note of where the snow melts the fastest — that is good indicator of where your system is located.

If you still can’t find your cesspools, hire a professional to locate the system for you.

What is the best way to service a two or three cesspool system?

The reason these old-style cesspools fill up is that over time organic matter clogs up the sand and eventually slows drainage.

For a system installed before 1972, unclogging the sand beneath the cesspool by using aeration or hydro jetting is the best solution.

REMEMBER: The problem is in the sand on the bottom.

Look for warning signs: slow flushes, gurgling in drains, bubbles coming up in the toilet. These problems will happen with heavy water use and then go away during times of limited water use.

It is important to address the problem as soon as you see symptoms. Delaying a fix will cost you more money in the long run.

Call us now for an inspection of your system.


631-484-3709 (cell)