There are a lot of trials and tribulations that come with owning a home or a business. Buildings can settle, circuit breakers can blow, and boiler issues can arise. However, of all the problems that can occur, the worst, hands down, is an overflowing cesspool. Not only is it gross, but it’s unsanitary and can be a serious health hazard.
Understanding how a cesspool works, what causes it to overflow, and knowing what to do in the event of such a crisis is vital.
How a Cesspool Works
A cesspool is an airtight tank that is situated underground. Its job is to collect wastewater from a building, including any water from drains and toilet. As the water enters the tank, it separates. The heavy waste materials settle on the bottom of the tank, the lighter waste materials push to the top of the tank, and wastewater lies between both layers.
Over time, the waste on the top and the bottom of the tank begin to thicken and eventually push into the wastewater until they join together. When this happens, the wastewater pushes out of the cesspool, causing a backup. The solid waste materials are also pushed out with the water.
Causes of a Cesspool Overflow
There are several factors that can cause a cesspool overflow. Some of the most common causes include:
- Failure to perform maintenance. On average, the tank has to be pumped and cleaned by a cesspool company every three to five years. If you fail to have routine maintenance performed, an overflow is inevitable. During maintenance, the thickened waste materials are removed from the tank, which prevents the wastewater from flowing out.
- Roots. One of the biggest hazards for a cesspool is roots. If trees and shrubs are situated within close proximity to the cesspool, they could eventually push their way through the tank or the pipes, causing cracks, leaks, and clogs.
- Flushing inorganic matter. Cesspools can only break down organic matter; flushing anything inorganic into the tank will eventually cause an overflow. Some materials, such as cigarette butts, diapers, paper towels, and plastic, will clog the lines. Other materials, like oil, grease, paint, and chemicals, will disrupt the balance of bacteria that break down the waste, which can also eventually lead to a clog.
- Excessive water intake. Cesspools have a maximum capacity. If they are exposed to more waste than they can hold, an overflow is inevitable. Doing several loads of laundry in a short period of time or by using several fixtures and appliances that require drainage at one time will inundate the system with water and cause an overflow.
Signs of a Cesspool Overflow
If your cesspool is overflowing, chances are you will notice it. However, in case you aren’t sure, some of the most common signs that indicate an overflow include the following:
- A foul odor. The waste and water held inside a cesspool have a highly noxious odor. When an overflow occurs, not only does water and waste spill out but so does the odor they create. The stench of raw sewage is pretty hard to mistake.
- Pooling water. When a cesspool overflows, water will collect in the drain field. If you notice a sudden puddle of water in your yard and it hasn’t rained, your cesspool is probably overflowing.
- Green grass. The water and waste will fertilize the lawn in the drain field and around the cesspool, making it appear greener and fuller than the rest of the lawn.
- Sewage backup. One of the most troublesome – and unmistakable – signs of an overflowing cesspool is sewage backup. When the cesspool has reached capacity or has become clogged, the waste has nowhere else to go but back out of the drains and toilets that the system is connected to.
How to Handle a Cesspool Overflow
If you suspect your cesspool is overflowing, knowing how to handle the situation is crucial to your safety, and to the repair of the problem. Keep the following steps in mind in the event that you are dealing with an overflow:
- Call a cesspool company. As soon as you suspect an overflow, contact a reputable cesspool installer that offers emergency services. The sooner you call a professional, the faster the problem can be handled.
- Turn off the electricity. If the water is flooding and is near any electrical wiring, make sure to turn off your electricity. Should the water come into contact with electricity, you could have an even bigger problem on your hands.
- Turn off any running water. If there is any water running – a sink, a shower, a washing machine, etc – turn it off. If you allow water to continue running into an overflowing cesspool, the problem will become even worse.
- Leave the area. The wastewater and solid materials that are pushed out when a cesspool overflows are toxic. If there is any chance that you could come into contact with them, vacate the area.
Though a cesspool does a very important job, it isn’t free from problems. An overflow is a serious matter and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. if you live or work in the Halesite area of Long Island and you are in need of service for your cesspool, contact Long Island Cesspool at (631) 529-2149. We offer a wide range of services, including routine maintenance, pumping, and repairs. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are situated within close proximity to all major landmarks in Halesite, including Halesite Park, the Mill Dam Park, and Halesite Marina. Our technicians will be able to quickly access you via Youngs Hill Road, Creek Road, or any other roadway in the village.
A cesspool overflow is a serious issue; however, our trusted cesspool company will be able to handle the overflow quickly, efficiently, and affordably.