You’re outside in your yard when suddenly you get a whiff of a horrible, noxious, unmistakable smell: raw sewage.
You hope beyond anything that the pungent odor isn’t coming from your cesspool, but upon closer inspection, you notice that there is a pool of water around the drain field. As much as it may be to your dismay, there’s no way you can deny that your cesspool is backing up. You need to act fast and call a reputable cesspool company as soon as possible in order to avoid extensive damage.
As the cesspool installer is pumping out your tank, you can’t help but wonder what caused your tank to overflow.
Understanding Cesspool Backups
First things first: it’s important to understand that cesspools have to be pumped every few years. There’s no way around it. These underground tanks collect wastewater from your home, but they don’t have outlet pipes, so they are unable to empty themselves. While the walls of a cesspool are made of porous material, which allows some of the water to be absorbed into the ground, a large amount of water and the solid waste still remain in the tank. As such, the only way to empty a cesspool is by having it pumped by a professional.
Even with routine pumping, backups can still occur. Taking care of your cesspool and being mindful of what is going into it will help to prevent a backup from pumping. There are a number of things that can trigger an overflow. Here’s a look at some of the factors that may have caused the dilemma you are dealing with.
Too Much Water Use
Increased water use can certainly lead to a cesspool backup. Cesspools tanks are meant to accommodate a certain amount of water. If you are using more water than the cesspool can handle, it’s bound to overflow. If you and your family have been using more water than usual, it’s likely the reason why your cesspool overflowed. For example, if you have been doing several things at the same time that involve water usage, such as washing laundry, doing the dishes, taking a shower, and flushing toilets, the cesspool may have become inundated with water.
While using more water than usual can certainly trigger a backup, it’s important to note that there was already an underlying problem; the tank was near capacity, or a pipe was damaged. The influx of wastewater triggered the overflow because the tank was already delicate and couldn’t accommodate it.
Natural bacterium is vital for a cesspool because it helps to break down the waste it is holding so that the water can pass through the drain field. If bacteria levels are disrupted, waste won’t break down properly, which can cause an overflow. While you may not be aware of it, there are things that you might be pouring into your cesspool that are disrupting the bacteria levels. Some examples include:
- Harsh detergents
- Household cleaners
While using these things in small quantities likely won’t cause an issue, if they are used in excess, they could kill off the good bacteria in your cesspool.
Flushing Certain Materials Down Drains and Toilets
Cesspools are only meant to handle natural waste and wastewater. Bacteria cannot break down certain materials, so flushing them down your drains or toilets will most certainly cause a backup. Moreover, some things could clog pipes, leading to an overflow.
Some of the things that should never be flushed include:
- Paper towels
- Baby wipes
- Disposable diapers
- Cotton swabs
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee grounds
- Sanitary supplies
- Large food waste materials (garbage disposals and cesspools don’t mix)
Cesspools are comprised of a collection of pipes. These pipes allow waste to pass from your house to the tank. If the pipes are damaged, waste can’t pass through them, which can lead to an overflow. There are several reasons why these pipes can become damaged. One of the most common reasons is tree roots. Tree root systems are highly complex and are constantly growing. As they grow, if they are near your cesspool, they can pass through the pipes and cause them to crack or crumble.
In order for a cesspool to function properly, it has to be properly designed. Unfortunately, poor design is not uncommon when it comes to cesspool systems. For example, the pipes might not be laid out in an efficient way, or they might not be properly connected to the tank. If either is the case, waste won’t be able to flow through the pipes and to the tank, which could result in an overflow.
Failure to Maintain
If you want to make sure your cesspool is operating properly, routine maintenance is an absolute must. As waste pushed through the tank, anything that isn’t biodegradable will settle on the bottom of the tank. Some solid biodegradable waste can settle at the bottom of the tank, too. Over time, this waste accumulates. Eventually, the contents of the tank will pour out.
To avoid this collection of waste and an overflow, having your cesspool emptied and cleaned once every three to five years is highly recommended. If you fail to maintain your cesspool, a backup is inevitable.
If you’re experiencing a backup, it’s important to contact a reputable cesspool company as soon as possible. Homeowners and residents who live in the Old Westbury area can count on Long Island Cesspool to get the job done quickly and efficiently. We are located within close proximity to all major landmarks and roadways in the area, including SUNY Old Westbury and the Meadow Brook Polo Club. Our technicians will be at your site in no time. They’ll come equipped with all of the necessary materials to remedy the situation. They’ll also assess your cesspool to determine the cause of the problem so that issues can be avoided in the future. Give us a call at (631) 529-2149 to learn more about how we can help you with your cesspool services.