Re: Cisterns were used to capture drinking and wash water
Posted by More on April 27, 2002 at 00:11:55:
In response to Re: Cisterns were used to capture drinking and wash water
You say its doubtful, but I'll bet the original buliding permit is intact, and I'll bet it doesn't indicate a cistern, but calls what you have as a cesspool. Depending upon where you live this is common practice. Also it goes back to remarkable engineering practices for which the new people stocking our hardware stores are providing us with a dis-service. The black pipe is Orangeburg.

Cisterns are common practice in areas far from city service, and mostly are above or partially above ground watertight tanks designed to capture rain and condensate water from roofs and large collection areas, and partially or mostly covered to prevent vermin, pests, birds and animals from getting into the water. Often times the water was drinking water as well as cooking, bathing, and wash water (which was often strained and used over and over).

Cesspools are designed as usually hand dug or machine dug holes in the ground six to twenty feet away from a house, six to thirty feet deep amnd four to six feet round, and lined with rock or redwood or cedar wood planking, and covered with a durable lid, piped with Orangeburg pipe, and buried below two feet of earth. The Orangeburg pipe extended to the residence, and usually only served a single toilet. A six by twenty cesspool affords approximately 700 square feet of absorption area for whatever contaminant solids and liquids were flushed, which was great when washing machines, showers, flush toilets and kitchen dishwashers weren't invented.

The cesspool is probably your combined septic tank and drain field especially if you live in desert sandy soil or New Hampshire silty loam, or shale sandstone. You can ABSOLUTELY find out what you have by digging up the Orangeburg pipe from your repair - back to the house, to see if there is a septic tank, or another cesspool that has expired and is now used as a septic tank, and also examining the inside of the cesspool with a strong flashlight to look for any more orangeburg pipe exiting, and going to additional absorption area.

Arent you glad there are these such web sites available to you? THANKS TERRY !

: Our ancient 4" sewer piping recently failed, which empties into what used to be the cistern. When cutting into this pipe it seems to be made out of a tarry substance. No one at our local hardware store knows what it is or how old it might be. We replaced it with PVC. My question is this: How can we find out whether or not we even HAVE a drain field? It is doubtful that the owners at the time acquired a permit to use the cistern rather than having a septic system installed.

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