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Our house has one of those two-chambered standard (Philippines) open-bottom septic tanks. I think it's also called a cesspool.

I got into a discussion with someone on whether it can get full. Their argument is that, since it's open, the sewage can drain freely into the ground. My response is that the solid waste would build up over time.

I tried to research it online, but I can't find any information specific to open-bottomed septic tanks, other than pages and pages of "How to know when your septic tank is full" results.

Do they become full? If so, why and around how long?

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    A cesspool is usually open on top they fill with leaves and other debris Also, any septic system over time will fill with solids so it has to be moved or pumped.
    – Ed Beal
    May 12 '20 at 14:29
  • @EdBeal I believe your comment is the correct answer to this question. Feb 9 at 14:24
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Once it gets close to the top, you hire a company with a « sludge gulper » to come and empty it.

Had a house with a septic tank and it had clay pipes which had shifted over time so had to empty the tank, repair and replace pipe.

Once done it worked fine.

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A cesspool is usually open on top - they fill with leaves and other debris. Also, any septic system over time will fill with solids so it has to be moved or pumped.

How long will it take for a tank to fill?

In the 70’s we were replacing wooden tanks on homes that were built in the 30’s and 40’s. These were small tanks by today’s standards - only 500-1000 gallons. Some had become full, some had collapsed (even redwood rots in the ground).

We had to do my mom's house which was built in 1940. The new tank was installed in 1980-81, so it lasted 40 years. The new tank my step dad just had pumped because the system was backing up due to a broken pipe preventing it from draining properly. So almost 40 years again.

If it is a healthy system not, overburdened with chemicals that kill bacteria and no garbage disposal, I would expect them to last even longer. My mom's system is still functioning.

If they only have the drainage area of the pit / open tank bottom, it might plug up faster, but a 2 chamber system that is healthy commonly last 20 or more years depending on the drainage or percolation rate of the soil.

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