In older homes, a cesspool or cesspit is a covered area or conversancy tank that is used in order to dispose of waste from a home. It is an antiquated concept that was used before sewer or septic systems were installed in homes. It is a large chamber that is dug deep into a yard and looks similar to a water well.
Typically these cesspools are poured with brick, cement or concrete. Wastewater from a home flows into the cesspool and drains into the soil through perforated walls. They also serve as overflow pits for septic tanks and are more efficient than older systems because they are exposed to less solid materials. In homes where is no septic tanks to hold solids, a cesspool will need more maintenance overall. This is because the cesspool will need to be periodically empties to make more for more waste.
While cesspools are still in use in some cities, most local building codes now prohibit their use in new construction because of sanitation issues. This is because these fluids can leak from the container and contaminate groundwater and soil. They also are known to attract vermin, which carry disease. A professional home inspector can inspect the home to determine whether or not a cesspool is installed in your older home and if your sewage system needs to be update accordingly. Unused cesspools should be sealed or filled and sealed depending on local health code.