Septic tank questions

How can I tell the difference between a cesspool and a septic tank? It was ~1200 gal. last time it was pumped. So far I've found it is made of concrete and has a large flat top (have uncovered about 4 x 8 ft so far - more to go). About how deep would this be - guess? If a septic tank, how far down would the leech line connection be - about half-way? Any easy way to find the leech line connection? Where they are in the yard?
TIA
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Ken Knecht wrote:

A cesspool and a septic tank are different in what they do. A cesspool is a large pit in the ground, all your sewage goes there, where it seeps into the ground.
A septic tank hold the waste, allowing it to breakdown. As the waste breaks down, it is converted to water and gases. The water flows out the other end of the tank, where it's routed to some method allow the water to seep into the ground.
Most common system is a leach line consisting of one or more laterals of perforated pipe. Others use a dry well. A dry well is so called because ideally it's above the water table. The septic tank is piped to this, and there is where the water seeps. My house is on a tank and dry well.
http://www.ruralhometech.com/septic/evolution/evolution.php?page=1 http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/DD6583.html http://www.inspect-ny.com/septbook.htm
--Mike
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Thanks.
But what I meant by the difference, is how to tell the difference by appearance of the septic tank/cesspool by partially digging it up as I described above. Thus, would a cesspool have a large rectangular flat top? I don't think so but I'm not sure.
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You look inside it when it's just been pumped, and see if its a solid concrete box (with an outflow somewhere) or not. The chances are pretty good that if it's rectangular, it's a septic tank.
Why do you care? --Goedjn
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default wrote:

If he's like me, he's just curious. I've been digging mine up for awhile. Mine has a 4" pipe sticking out of the ground. I think this pipe is right above the outlet, because when I look down into the pipe I see what looks like the edge of something. (Just barely). But the pipe was cemented around the hole dug to place it there, so I can't seem to get around to the lid. --Mike
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It overflowed twice in the past six months. The septic tank pump service guy asked if it was a cesspool or septic tank. I'm trying to find out. If a septic tank and it overflows again I probably will need to get the leachfield cleaned - or something.
Ken
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Ken Knecht wrote:

When you say it over flowed, do you mean it backed up into the house? As water is added from the inlet, an equal amount should "drain" through the outlet, keeping the level in the tank consistent.
How old is the septic system? Did you just call a septic pumping company, or did they actually come out and do something? The problem with septic systems, is you never really know when it needs to be pumped, unless you pop open a lid and measure the sludge and scum in the tank. --Mike
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When a septic tank is not pumped out regularly, solids can get into the leach lines and stop them up. Waste water then either backs up into the house, or finds it way out of the tank. There is a procedure some people are using of shooting compressed air into the far end of the leach lines and blowing the solids back into the tank. It's a little expensive to do, but I've heard good results.
Bob S.
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