My New Home has a Cesspit - What Should I do?

June 15, 2015



Here at GD Environmental, we are aware of the unfamiliarity that new homeowners are faced with when moving to a property that inherits a cesspit, or whether you’re building your dream home which is detached from the public sewer system.

To help eradicate any of those uncertainties, we’ve put together this handy blog post, covering the difference between septic tanks and cesspits, while highlighting all the tell-tale signs to ensure you don’t face any costly surprises.


What is The Difference Between a Septic Tank and A Cesspit?

  • Cesspits: How They Work - A cesspit/cesspool is an underground tank which stores sewerage until the time of disposal, it is advised that these are emptied on an annual basis. The watertight tanks are constructed out of fibreglass, or older ones may be built from brick, they have an inlet pipe but no outlet. 
  • Septic Tanks Explained - Whereas a septic tank, is similar to a cesspit/pool but only stores the solid material, while discharging the effluent liquid away from the tank, either to a further treatment plant or to a system of underground land drains.




Is Your Cesspit/Septic Tank Registered?

If you’re based in Wales, and your property has a cesspit or a sewage treatment plant, you have a legal obligation to register it with Natural Resources Wales. It doesn’t cost a penny to do so, and can be done easily here (link to page)

It is good etiquette for the seller to empty the cesspit before the property is sold. We recommend you ask the seller for a copy of the duty of care note for future records, as it will hold information on the quantity of waste which was removed and contact details of the waste company.


Where is the Cesspit Located?

Usually, cesspits are located a short distance from the property in a field or besides the property on a driveway, if the tank is easily accessible with an easily-open cover, it’s usually a good sign it has been serviced regularly. However, if the seller isn’t too sure where the tank is located, then it may be the case that they’ve never had it emptied!


Is it Easily Accessible? ­

To empty the sewerage system, GD Environmental sends a HGV tanker, therefore the manhole needs to be easily accessible. Should the manhole be located in a field, we can send inter-connecting hoses to cover the distance between the two, however, this shouldn’t be any greater than 30 meters.


What is Installed?

Sewage disposal systems can differ from a cesspit to a septic tank. We recommend you obtain as much information from the seller as possible, including the tanks capacity and the material it is constructed from, i.e. concrete, fibreglass or steel.


What is the Service/Repair History of the Cesspit?

If the tank has received regular emptying it’s usually a good sign that the tank has been well maintained.  However, if the current owner has never had it emptied, we recommend this is done and inspected by drainage consultants prior to the completion of the sale.


If after reading this, you find you still have concerns, feel free to call a member of our friendly team on 01633 277755.


Read more: 

Drain Surveys and a New Home: Your Questions Answered

Launching Waste Management in Llanelli

Alternative British ‘Bogs’




(images: Billy Hathorn under CC BY 3.0)