How to Examine Septic and Cesspool Tanks Properly and Safely

Septic and cesspool tanks can leak and clog up leading to malfunction. These tanks hold all manner of waste both organic and inorganic. Most causes of problems for these tanks come from introduction of non-biodegradable material which can clog the system and lead to quick fill up.  Concrete and plastic tanks can also leak from breakage, while steel tanks are wont to rot away at the bottom. This is why the proper cesspool maintenance is important.

cesspool maintenance

Signs of problems

Regular examination of tanks should be done to identify problems early and avoiding expensive maintenance costs in the future. It should be part of the regular home maintenance plan. Cesspool services in Suffolk County, NY say some of the causes of problems for septic and cesspool tanks are;

  • Sludge build up from lack of pumping
  • Tree roots breaking the tank
  • Broken pipes, drain lines and baffles
  • Clogging of septic filter
  • Inadequate enzymes and bacteria to breakdown biodegradable waste

In addition you should watch out for these signs pointing to a malfunctioning septic and cesspool tanks;

  • Very high levels in a septic tank shows that there is a blocked outlet or drainfield
  • Very low levels in a septic tank. If it is a steel tank it points to rust holes. If it is concrete, plastic or fiberglass there is most likely a breakage.
  • Water flowing back into the tank from outlet shows the drainfield is saturated and waterlogged

When any of the above signs are observed, the next step involves making a thorough examination of the tank, inlet and outlet.  Examination of septic/cesspool tanks is a risky business. These tanks produce toxic and dangerous gases like methane which can suffocate a person in minutes. In addition there is the danger of falling into the tank and drowning.

Video examination

Doing examination by video is a safer and more through method. Specialized video equipment can be used to point out problems like;

  • This is when there is an object hindering proper flow along the drains
  • This is when pipes are eaten away or rust has holed the tank.
  • Bellied pipe. This is when a pipe outlet sinks below ground level leading to foreign objects collecting at that end.
  • Leaking joints between pipes
  • Root infiltration cracking the tank and pipes
  • Offset pipes. These are pipes that have been shifted and become misaligned due to shifts in the ground.

Video examination can save you a lot of money by identifying early damage. Your septic tank cleaning cost and cesspool pumping cost will also be lower as you can identify when the tank is good to be pumped.


When examining a septic or cesspool tank it is advisable to follow these guidelines;

  • Never work alone
  • Never go into the tank without breathing equipment as the fumes will suffocate you
  • Do not lean into the tank as you can get dizzy and fall into the tank
  • Do not light fires near the tank. They produce methane gas which is highly flammable.
  • Keep septic tanks well protected by fencing off.


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