What is this?


Old 07-03-18, 11:16 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 4
What is this?

We were having trees removed from our yard and the heavy equipment uncovered what I believe is a well or cistern. It's about 12ft deep with about 5 1/2 feet of water in it. It was covered by a concrete slab which broke when the truck parked on top of it. My house was built in 1962 and the original plans from the two have no indication of a well on the property. The area was once a farm with the farm house 2 doors down the street. It's lined with cinder blocks and is about 4 ft wide. What is it and what do I do with it?
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Old 07-03-18, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 45
Seems that you have already answered most of your own questions. It is obviously an old well or cistern, but not that old if it was built with pre-cast block. I suggest breaking up the lid, and the first (top) 3 rows of block, and having it filled in. The only reason to keep this would be if you are a grower, and would like a backup supply of water for plants, do not however, use it for potable water (obviously). Now that the cistern/well is open, it is a liability and you would be liable if anyone fell into it.
You did not state what part of the country you are in, or if you are in a city or rural area. Most developed areas have codes that need to be followed when dealing with old wells or cisterns, I suggest checking with your county inspector/planner to see if there are any codes that need to be followed before proceeding. IF you plan on keeping it, it will at the least need to be re-capped and most likely fenced.
Old 07-03-18, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 6,488
Could it be a septic tank?

Are there any pipes connected to it? If so, what size pipe(s)?
Old 07-03-18, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 45
Good call Wirepuller, totally slipped my mind on that one. Rent a pump and get the water level down and check for inlet-outlet pipes. I doubt this is an active septic however, as your (and your neighborhood) would have known instantly when the lid was broken.
Old 07-03-18, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 983
Originally Posted by Wirepuller38
Could it be a septic tank?
Without a tank it's called a cesspit.

A) hand dug well
B) hand dug cesspit

They are physically the same, hole in the ground with concrete block wall, dug below the local water line.
Well is where you pull potable water out of the ground; cesspit is where you dump black water back so the solids settle and the water leaches back into the earth.

One side of the house would have source - the well.
Other side of the house would have the sink - cesspit.

What you do next depends on whether you want free water, or need to get rid of water for free, or don't care.

If you don't care, then break up the lid into chunks, toss it into the hole,
find what stone is cheapest for 5 cubic yards delivered. Stone goes into the hole,
black landscaping tyvek goes over the stone, hay-straw-grass clippings go over the
tyvek, then cover with topsoil and seed.

If you want free water (big garden, a lawn sprinkler system, or are on chlorinated city water), then put a 2" pipe with a screen at the bottom, fill with ~6 cubic yards of #4 ballast almost to the top, lay tyvek fabrc over the stone, re-assemble the lid to cover the opening, cover with another layer of tyvek and the rest of the stone. Then backfill with topsoil.

If you want to get rid of water, repeat as above, but run your downspouts through gaps in the broken lid / tyvek.

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