Whether you live in the heart of the city or the middle of the country, you need a system or tank to deal with your bathroom waste. Most cities have sewer systems and require that new homes connect to their lines. Those lines grab the waste and move it into the sewers, which will carry it away from your house. 

If you do not have sewer connections in your property, you need to install a septic tank or another option such as a tight tank or cesspool. But hey, if you’re feeling a little lost, don’t worry: it's easy to see what each one does and their differences if you need to choose one for your home. 

Keep reading to find out more!  

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else." – Tom Stoppard

Septic Tank

Let’s start with the most common choice around homeowners, which is found in almost every city or community. 

What is a septic tank?

A septic tank consists of a tank with lines that run to your home. When water goes down your drains or when you flush the toilet, the lines carry that waste to the tank, which usually has filters that separate liquids from solids. 

How do septic tanks work?

A septic tank holds the solid waste coming from your home, while releasing all of the liquids into a leach field. If you see bright green grass in one area of your yard, it's likely in or near the leach field as the grass gets lots of nutrients from the liquid waste in the area.

As septic tanks are closed, they do not allow bacteria to grow and thrive. A good tank will prevent scum and other dangerous materials from escaping the tank and reaching nearby yards. 


  • Septic tanks need emptying at least once every three to five years, since they have only a set amount of space. When it reaches its full capacity, it can send too much waste into your yard, contaminating the soil and possibly making others sick. 
  • If you buy a new home, you may not know where the tank is either, nor when was the last time it was pumped. It’s wise to contact a pro and schedule a septic system inspection.
  • You need a permit to install or replace a septic tank or leach field.


What is a cesspool?

A cesspool looks like a large concrete box or ring that you install below the ground. You will notice small holes placed around the edges. 

How does a cesspool work?

To understand how this system works, you can imagine your bathroom sink. The overflow hole in your sink keeps water from pouring over the sides. As the water flows from the faucet, it slowly collects in the sink. That hole forces out any excess water. A cesspool works in a similar way.

With a cesspool, waste moves through your home and into lines that carry it to the pool. Sludge and other solid waste sit on the bottom of the pool, while liquid waste rises to the top. The holes in the sides of the pool force the water out and into your yard. 

Keep in mind:

  • You need to hire a cesspool pumping expert to make sure that you keep the holes free of clogs. 
  • Many cities now require homeowners to install more modern septic systems, so if you’re building a new home or remodeling your own, you will need to apply for a permit to install or replace your current septic system. 
  • Many people with old and outdated cesspools hire companies to install new septic tank systems to avoid any headaches with old systems. 
  • You may also need to look for local cesspool companies that can relocate the pool to another area of your yard.

Tight Tank

Another option that you might have is a tight tank, although it’s not that popular. 

What is a tight tank?

A tight tank is simply a very small tank designed to hold waste. Unlike septic tanks that have exit points for waste, tight tanks are enclosed and hold both solid and liquid wastes. They are similar to the tanks found on RVs and require regular pumping. 

Some tanks are so small that you need to pump and dump the waste they collect once a month or even once a week, which can be a big inconvenience.

Can I use a tight tank in my home?

You usually cannot use tight tanks unless there are no other options available to you. 

  • A tight tank might work when you remodel your home and cannot use your bathroom or if you want to construct a new home. 
  • You can also use a tight tank if you live in an RV or a camper. 


  • You need to make sure you have the right equipment to pump the tank and know in advance where you will dump the waste.
  • Make sure that you check with your city as you may find local laws that prohibit tight tanks.

Do I really need a septic system?

No matter where you live or how many bathrooms you have, you must have a system that removes waste. Bigger cities usually have sewer systems that you can connect your home to, but that’s not an option for many homeowners. 

Whether you decide to go for a septic tank, cesspool or even a tight tank, contact a professional to solve all your doubts and start planning the project. Additionally, always have the number of a local septic pumping company saved on your phone, in case you notice your system is overflowing.  

Need to install or replace your septic tank? Get free quotes from local septic tank companies today!


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