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How to Make a Cesspool

Robert Paxton

The cesspool is one of two private-sewage systems available at present, the other being the septic tank. The latter is more common and most people consider it the superior choice, since it contains and filters waste solids and liquids more effectively.

Cesspools are usually prohibited due to their unsanitary nature.


Determine if cesspools are legal where you live. In many inhabited areas, both urban and rural, cesspools are not legal. Check the blueprints of your home to certify that you will not cut any electrical lines inside or outside your home during this work.


The ground around a cesspool inevitably becomes tainted and foul. Non-biodegradable materials will clog the porous walls of the cesspool and lead to a back-up.

One advantage to installing a cesspool, though, is its inexpensive cost and its simple design. While installation of a septic tank calls for the help of a professional, anyone capable of digging a hole and hauling rock can make a cesspool.

Location and Measurement

  1. Locate the area in which you wish to place the cesspool. Since waste water flows out into the surrounding ground from the cesspool, this area should be as far away from your dwelling as possible. However, you will need to keep it close enough to ensure sufficient flow through a downward slanting length of ABS pipe that will connect to your toilet or other origin of your sewage. Since cesspools are considered undesirable in most places, there are no specific guidelines or standards to follow.

  2. Mark the desired diameter of the hole. Use a measuring tape to confirm the hole's diameter. The cesspool should be at least 3 feet in diameter in order to allow you to get down in the hole and dig to a depth of 6 feet. The diameter should be wider if it is going to accommodate more people.

  3. Dig a cylindrical hole in the place you have marked. Begin loosening the soil with a pick before proceeding with a shovel. The depth should be about 6 feet. From this hole, dig an upward slanting trench toward the location of your sewage's origin. The trench should be wide enough to accommodate a 3-inch ABS pipe. The point at which it exits into the cesspool should be well above the floor of the hole since the system will begin to back up once water reaches the mouth of this pipe.

  4. Cut a length of 3-inch ABS pipe with a hack saw. It should be long enough to begin at the origin point of your sewage and extend at least one foot into the cesspool. Lay this pipe in the trench leading from the cesspool.

  5. Attach the other end of the ABS pipe to wherever your sewage originates. If this is a toilet, you will need to shut off the water to your dwelling or somehow ensure that no one will use water while this step is carried out. If you are going through the wall of a house, you may need a router to cut through the wood. You may also need the hacksaw to cut into an already existing pipe. If both pipes are ABS, glue them together with ABS cement. If the ABS pipe must adhere to metal, use construction adhesive.

  6. Line the interior of the hole with rock, brick or masonry. The material is not as important as the way it fits together. The resulting wall should be porous. This will allow waste water to flow through the walls into the surrounding soil. Make sure the ABS pipe perforates this wall and is not jarred while you place the rock.

  7. Place a concrete lid over the hole and cover with soil.