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Cesspool pumping, chemicals and aerating


RalphW's Avatar
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12-15-11, 10:38 AM   #1 (permalink)  
Cesspool pumping, chemicals and aerating

I have an old cesspool that is full of sewage water mostly but is not draining. Will having it pumped and treating it with chemicals and aerating it restore it? The soil is sandy.
Any opinions or experiences would be appreciated.

 
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12-16-11, 12:23 PM   #2 (permalink)  
Cesspools

Cesspools are designed as totally enclosed containers - they do not leak, or in anyway process the contents.
They are designed to fill up and be emptied.
They are usually located by lakes and other sites that would be polluted by a septic tank.
As such they are very expensive.
Best avoided.

 
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12-17-11, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)  
Thank you for your reply, Perry525.
My cesspool is an old cesspool. It is a large domed concrete cylynder with no bottom, and holes in the sides to pass the settled effluent into the surrounding sandy soils. It is not full of solids, but is mostly full of effluent which is no longer draining out because the surrounding sandy soil is clogged up.

What I am trying to find out is if pumping, chemically treating and aerating it will restore its functioning as promised by cesspool service companys.

I don't have any experience in these matters, but I hope someone at this forum does, and would be kind enough to share it.

 
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12-17-11, 09:46 AM   #4 (permalink)  
Hmm, as far as a cesspool goes is that the only tank on the system?

Those need to be pumped and jetted clean. Get all the biomat off the sides...etc. I believe they fill with water and treat with peroxide. Will it work???? It depend how long its been waterlocked. If the biomat is too thick there is nothing that will work except letting it sit dry for 3 yrs. That will restore it I believe. But to do that another tank needs to be added else where. Then you use a bull run valve and switch fields every year after that.

Tell us more about the system.

And whatkind of promise are you getting from the service company? Is it a written warranty?

Mike NJ

 
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12-17-11, 10:07 AM   #5 (permalink)  
Thank you for your reply, lawrosa.

It is an old-fashioned cesspool. Just what I described and nothing else.

I read some reviews online by homeowners, and there were some real horror stories. Seems that there is a lot of either a lack of competence and or integrity by many in the pumping business.

I'm trying to find out from the objective and trusted people here just how much of this service to go for based on their knowledge and experience.

Is this a miracle cure or wasted money that would be better off spent on installing a new cesspool? Which in my situation would have major logistical problems.

I am just an old man living alone, and only one toilet goes to it. All my graywater goes to a large drywell that works the same way.

 
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12-18-11, 09:15 AM   #6 (permalink)  
Seriously, almost 100 views to this thread and no one has ever had their cesspool pumped?

 
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12-18-11, 10:39 AM   #7 (permalink)  
Ralph....I'm sure there are cesspools still out there, but I think most of them have been converted to a more modern septic system.

The reason you don't have many replies is most likely because people have nothing to add to the advice given or have no experience with a true cesspool. I read every new thread (as do some other Mods)...sometimes more than once, which adds to the view count. Since I have no info to share I don't always post...but the views add up.

No reason to have 2 threads on the same subject. I moved it to the appropriate area.


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12-18-11, 01:27 PM   #8 (permalink)  
Cesspools are pretty much not allowed in much of the US anymore. In my county if one fails or needs anything more than a standard pumping there is very strong pressure to replace it with a more modern system. Advanced remediation is generally not permitted so when it's done it's done on the sly without the authorities knowledge. They want them gone.

Have you contacted your Health or Environmental Services Dept. to see what method of remediation they might approve?

From what I've seen at the trade shows most remediations are not far from what Lawrosa mentioned. Pumping, pressure washing and a strong chemical treatment (I assume to be hydrogen peroxide). Some methods try to break-up the biomass with either high pressure steam, air or water. Some even inject plastic beads or other media into the fractured ground to keep the drain passages open. I've never tried any of them. To me it seems like a lot of money spent repairing a antiquated system that should be replaced with something better so I've always opted to install a septic system and leech field instead of saving a cesspool.
---
Yes there is some incompetence in the pumping industry, but you have to understand that many people are just that, pumpers. They are not remediation specialists. I think many people are faced with a major, expensive repair and they go cheap. Basically finding someone telling them what they want to hear. Nobody wants to hear that the proper fix is expensive and time consuming so you get a lot of people that went cheap, it didn't work so they complain and cry that the repair failed.

 
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12-18-11, 01:40 PM   #9 (permalink)  
To add to what pilot dane stated a regular septic tank would probably need to be added. You can use the cess pool probably as a leach field because if effuent only enters it, it essentially turns into a seepage pit.

But IMO a whole new system should be installed next to that cess pool, and the cesspool converted to a seepage pit. Then use a bull run valve to swith fields yearly after the original cesspool tank sits for three years.

It will be the last time you spend money on the septic exept for pumping.

Mike NJ

 
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12-19-11, 10:49 AM   #10 (permalink)  
Its not really a cesspit, its more like an early French septic tank, a tank without a drain field.
These cannot process the human solids, as the process requires that the solids are held under water and deprived of oxygen, only then can the bacteria do their work of converting the solids into water and various gasses.
I would suggest that you fill it in and forget it.
If you are in a location that is suitable for a septic tank and drain field, then that's the way to go.

 
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12-21-11, 08:11 PM   #11 (permalink)  
Sorry - Just joined -think i'm in wrong area but I'm looking for advice aerator

Just joined & having some navigation problems. I'm wondering how hard it is to install an aerator for a Multi Flo Septic system. Anyone know? Thank u

 
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12-21-11, 08:28 PM   #12 (permalink)  
Hers your owners manual.

Looks like you just need to take the lid off and pull it out.

http://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/onsite...nersmanual.pdf

Mike NJ

 
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12-23-11, 06:36 PM   #13 (permalink)  
Posted By: Perry525 Cesspools are designed as totally enclosed containers - they do not leak, or in anyway process the contents.
They are designed to fill up and be emptied..
That is a holding tank, not a cesspool.

A cesspool has porous sides and is intended to leach liquid content into the surrounding soil while solids remain behind.

Unfortunately grease and biomat eventually clog the sides. Then the cesspool needs to be pumped (to gain access to the sides) and the sides chemically treated to restore porosity. (If the preceding fails then, way back when, it was common to dig a brand new cesspool next to it.)

 
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12-25-11, 09:22 AM   #14 (permalink)  
Costic Soda, that stuff works! Its like a powdered acid.

 
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12-27-11, 12:06 PM   #15 (permalink)  
Still full of it!

Thanks for all the replies (except for the guy who hijacked the thread).
Lexus114 - from what kind of source would one obtain caustic soda, and how would one apply it, and how much would one use???
AllanJ - If I can't restore this cesspool, I would need to install another cesspool to act as a seepage pit and connect the two via an overflow pipe. I've seen diagrams of more modern septic systems where the overflow pipe begins with a T fitting so the floating scum layer doesn't enter the overflow pipe. Is there an advantage to using a T instead of a simple elbow? Would an elbow fitting work? I don't think I can install a T from the outside, but an elbow connected to the oveflow could be pushed through from the outside and then oriented opening downwards well below the floating scum layer.
ANYONE else with any opinions, experiences or advice please chime in. Thanks

 
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12-27-11, 12:14 PM   #16 (permalink)  
Why dont you have it pumped first, then post back and let us know what the pumping people suggest. You need to pump to see is there is seepage back in the pit. That may show more.

Code probably will not allow you to do what you are suggesting of adding to whats there. Once the health dept gets involved you will need to do what they say or probably face fines, etc....

Like I said get it pumped so the pit can be inspected.

Mike NJ

 
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12-28-11, 05:26 AM   #17 (permalink)  
Nowadays, if a cesspool cannot be re-porous-ized then a new septic tank system is installed in its place. A frequent reason why chemicals fail to restore a cesspool is that the surrounding soil has also become impregnated with the grease and biomat.

Insufficient land area and insufficient porosity of the soil may require that esoteric septic systems such as those requiring aeration or raised mounds of sand be installed.

"Aerated cesspool" is pretty much an oxymoron because so few towns permit cesspools and once a cesspool fails, it is no longer grandfathered so as to allow high tech improvements.

In some towns (for small lots) a dry well can be used instead of a leach field for a septic tank system.
_____________

All septic tanks have (or should have) baffles or T pipes on the inlet and outlet. I think the T (open on top) is preferable to an elbow because air bubbles can impair the flow.

The cesspool still non-porous from grease and biomat and requiring incessant pumping for all intents and purposes has its role changed to holding tank.

Add an outlet pipe going somewhere, anywhere (and T pipe on the inlet and the outlet) and the role changes to septic tank.

Dig another cesspool for the outlet pipe to go to, and leave the inlet into the old location, and the system becomes a septic tank cum (con; avec) dry well in lieu of leach field. But it is not a legal septic system for, among other reasons, the original location is not perfectly non-porous and real septic tanks don't leak.


Last edited by AllanJ; 12-28-11 at 05:58 AM.
 
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12-30-11, 01:50 PM   #18 (permalink)  
Thank you for your reply, AllanJ. You seem to have a very good understanding of the situation. What you said about the air bubbles and the T fitting makes sense, as does the rest of your reply.

What is the best way to "re-porous-ize" the cesspool and surrounding soils???

Thanks

 
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12-30-11, 02:18 PM   #19 (permalink)  
What is the best way to "re-porous-ize" the cesspool and surrounding soils???



Probably cheaper to install new septic.

Answers were given in previous posts. There is no magic bullet if thats what your looking for.

its inevitable.

Mike NJ

 
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01-06-12, 08:19 PM   #20 (permalink)  
What is the best way to "re-porous-ize" the cesspool and surrounding soils???

What is the best way to "re-porous-ize" the cesspool and surrounding soils???

OK, let’s see what we have so far:

lawrosa - “Those need to be pumped and jetted clean. Get all the biomat off the sides...etc. I believe they fill with water and treat with peroxide.”

Pilot Dane – “From what I've seen at the trade shows most remediations are not far from what Lawrosa mentioned. Pumping, pressure washing and a strong chemical treatment (I assume to be hydrogen peroxide). Some methods try to break-up the biomass with either high pressure steam, air or water. Some even inject plastic beads or other media into the fractured ground to keep the drain passages open. I've never tried any of them.”

AllanJ – “Then the cesspool needs to be pumped (to gain access to the sides) and the sides chemically treated to restore porosity.”

Lexus114 – “Costic Soda, that stuff works! Its like a powdered acid.”

So then what is the best way??? Or is there a better way that hasn’t been mentioned here, yet???

 
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01-07-12, 02:11 AM   #21 (permalink)  
A T should be fitted on the inlet side that terminates four inches above the water level to allow the methane and other gasses to escape up the sewage pipe/vent pipe.
A T should be fitted on the outlet side with the T as close to the side of the tank as possible, with the bottom of the T terminated at a height 1/3 of the distance between the top of the water and the bottom of the tank (this is the point of least turbulence inside the tank) The inlet T enables easy viewing, how high is the water (is the drain field working properly) the outlet T enables a view down to check that only clean processed liquid is flowing through to the drain field and provides the opportunity to fit a re moveable filter to stop solids entering the drain field to ensure its longevity.
The tank should be emptied when the solids fill half the tank - this allows a reasonable space for the microbes to work.....less space means more chance of solids reaching the drain field.
Fitted like this, a correctly sized septic tank, used only as intended, for the family will require emptying every twenty or thirty years.

 
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01-07-12, 06:48 AM   #22 (permalink)  
In this type of situation it is important to think of the long term goal, understanding that environmental codes change daily. How long are you trying to keep this system working? Thinking this is going to last is unreasonable. Any thing you decide should be in the direction of the permanent solution. if you are in a area where sewer is not likely to be available in the near future then you need to install a solid tank and drain field. Anything you do should be in this direction.

 
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01-07-12, 10:16 AM   #23 (permalink)  
Perry525 - I appreciate the effort you put into your posts in this thread, and while they are interesting to me and probably helpful to others in a different situation than mine, they are really not applicable to my situation. This thread is about trying to restore a simple cesspool.

Jason421 - You make good points. I am trying to restore the cesspool to get a few more years of life out of it. Sewers will be coming soon - they would have been here by now if not for the recession. As I said in earlier posts, I am just an old man living alone with nothing but a single toilet going to the cesspool. All other wastewater goes to a large drywell. Adding another cesspool to serve as a seepage pit is legal here, but presents several logistical problems. Adding a modern septic system is not an option.

So then, trying to stay on topic:

What is the best way to "re-porous-ize" the cesspool and surrounding soils???

OK, let’s see what we have so far:

lawrosa - “Those need to be pumped and jetted clean. Get all the biomat off the sides...etc. I believe they fill with water and treat with peroxide.”

Pilot Dane – “From what I've seen at the trade shows most remediations are not far from what Lawrosa mentioned. Pumping, pressure washing and a strong chemical treatment (I assume to be hydrogen peroxide). Some methods try to break-up the biomass with either high pressure steam, air or water. Some even inject plastic beads or other media into the fractured ground to keep the drain passages open. I've never tried any of them.”

AllanJ – “Then the cesspool needs to be pumped (to gain access to the sides) and the sides chemically treated to restore porosity.”

Lexus114 – “Costic Soda, that stuff works! Its like a powdered acid.”

So then what is the best way? Or is there a better way that hasn’t been mentioned here, yet?

 
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01-08-12, 05:20 AM   #25 (permalink)  
I think you are looking for a reply that goes:
If you stop using the pit for a year, nature will take over and the microbes in the soil will restore the soil....and you can start over.

If you can find a camping toilet to use for a year..... you could choose perhaps a hundred places to dig a number of small holes to bury your waste, where the microbes in the soil will be able to cope and convert the waste to compost and deal with it in the normal way.

However, it really is unkind to the environment and your neighbours in the area to reuse a facility that probably pollutes their drinking water.

 
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01-08-12, 03:46 PM   #26 (permalink)  
Well in that case I would have it pumped and then treat it with some peroxide. There is a chemical available called "Septic Scrub" that I have had some luck with treating drain fields. It usually runs about 100 $ for a jug and I usually apply 2 one initially to see if it works and usually does to some degree and the second in a month or 2. This usually will buy some time for a saturated field not sure how it will work on a cesspool, but is probably worth a shot.

 
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01-08-12, 03:54 PM   #27 (permalink)  
I would probably stay away from harsh chemicals, as you don't want to kill any remaining bacteria. The way I understand it peroxide will switch the type of bacteria from a anaerobic bacteria to an aerobic bacteria witch consumes sludge and as the oxygen dies off the anaerobic bacteria will return naturally.

 
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02-20-12, 07:03 PM   #28 (permalink)  
The traditional treatment for a cesspool is to dump 5 gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid in it after it has been pumped out. The acid restores the porosity. I just picked up 6 gallons to treat my two series connected cesspools and checked the forum to see if any new instructions have surfaced... and found I know more about this than anyone here. Guess that comes of being around for over 70 years.

 
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02-20-12, 08:15 PM   #29 (permalink)  
Hmm...Not worried about polluting the ground water? Not sure if thats legal these days.

Did you see my results and aeration of my seepage pit?

http://www.doityourself.com/forum/we...lp-advice.html

Mike NJ

 
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06-18-12, 07:27 AM   #30 (permalink)  
RalphW. I hope you found a solution to your problem. I have a cesspool. I have had it for 35 years. It works good. A little different than yours but they work the same way. I live in AZ. Septic systems are used today and are very efficiant. They quit working because the bacteria die and will not decompose the waste. Call a septic company and ask what they think. You may need to pump it out, put acid in it to restore drainage. There are products (bacteria)you can put in to restore your system. If maintained you should never have to pump them. No grease, bleach, anti bacteria soap. The liquid is meant to flow back into the ground and the solids are meant to break down. All of my water (gray and black) go into my septic tank. If it is not working at all pump it and start fresh. Be vigalent and watch what you put down your drain.

 
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06-18-12, 08:11 AM   #31 (permalink)  
I have had mine pumped. Sulfuric acid put in and never missed a day. I make sure I treat it to maintain the system. I only had to pump it because it was not maintained. With all the new soaps and cleaning supplies they are terrible on septic systems. Sometimes you have to pump them out.

 
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06-18-12, 08:16 AM   #32 (permalink)  
You are right. sometimes you have to get it working, NOW. I have to constantly check mine, watch what I put down the drain. It's work, but they work good.

 
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07-09-12, 10:10 AM   #33 (permalink)  
While cesspools can often be rejuvenated using acid or lye or other chemicals, do not put such chemicals into a septic tank. Nothing useful is accomplished and the chemicals will make it take longer for bacterial action in the septic tank to resume.

Meanwhile the leach field or seepage pit used with a septic tank can benefit from chemicals after you determine that there is biomat or grease clogging it.

Chemicals should be sprayed all around the inside of an empty cesspool or dry well or seepage pit, not just poured in to land at the bottom. Flushing chemicals down the toilet may help free up clogged drain pipes but will not rejuvenate the system because they will be too dilute when they get down there.

Septic tanks almost never just stop working, and if they do it's because large amounts of detergents and chemicals were put down the house drains, or the tank wasn't pumped out in timely fashion and too much sludge accumulated inside.

Trying to rejuvenate a cesspool is probably worthwhile if public sewers are about to be installed and you don't want to put in a new septic system for just a few years' use. (Digging a new cesspool next to the old one will probably not be permitted.)

 
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