What’s the difference between cesspits, septic tanks and sewage treatment plants?

There are three main septic systems available in the UK. They are septic tanks, cesspits and sewage treatment plants. Choosing the right one for your property is important because you need to make sure your waste is dealt with in the correct way to avoid leakages or other problems. So let’s take a look at these three septic systems and work out what might be best for you.


A cesspit with someone leaning into it.

A cesspit (or cesspool) is perhaps one of the most basic ways you can dispose of your waste. In essence, it’s a large container which holds all the waste from your house. It doesn’t perform any sort of cleaning or treatment. It’s completely sealed off from its surroundings – once waste goes in, it’s not getting back out until it is emptied. 

Cesspits do require regular emptying as the can fill up quickly. This all depends on the size of the cesspit, and the number of people in your property who use it. However, if you are in Scotland, we have bad news: cesspits are illegal! If you live in England, however, the law is different and you are able to install one, but ideally only as a temporary solution to deal with your waste. A septic tank offers a far better solution for dealing with sewage issues. 

Septic tank

A concrete septic tank.

Septic tanks are commonly used throughout the country as they are durable, reliable and usually straightforward for companies like us to install. We only install concrete septic tanks, because we believe they offer the best long-term value for money for our customers. 

A septic tank is buried underground and takes all the wastewater from your house, including kitchen and bathroom. Natural microorganisms in the tank help to break down solid waste, and this is cleaned out on a regular basis. The wastewater is released into an absorption field and into the soil, where it percolates down back into the natural water system. 

A septic tank is a permanent solution to anyone who can’t connect to the water mains. If maintained correctly, they can easily last for decades. The key is having them installed professionally and emptied regularly. Get in touch with us and we can advise on how we can help you do this, or find out more about our installations

Sewage treatment plant

Maintaining a sewage treatment plant.

To many, a sewage treatment plant is where a community’s waste is commercially cleaned and released back into nature. However, it is also something you can install on your own property. The aim of such an installation is to provide a more environmentally friendly effluent, so the water released from your plant is already pretty clean. This means they do not require a soakaway system. Although they need a constant supply of electricity, they can be economical as they won’t need emptying as much as septic tanks. To find out more, read our sewage treatment plants blog here

What sewage solution to choose?

So in conclusion, we can summarise this by simply saying:

Only get a cesspit if you live outside Scotland and are looking for a temporary waste disposal solution.

Think about getting a septic tank if you want a long-lasting waste solution which should last you many years.

FInally, you should consider a sewage treatment plant if you are looking to be a bit more environmentally friendly or don’t have room for a soakaway. 

And if you’ve still got questions, just give us a shout!