Living with a drywell

We knew when we bought the house that it came with a drywell instead of a septic. At the time, I really didn't understand the impact that it would have on our lifestyle and buying habits. After living here almost 6 months, the drywell has become something that we have to consider every day. For starters, a drywell (also called a cesspool) is basically just a brick-lined hole in the ground. Modern ones are mde out of concrete, but I feel safe in saying that our is old enough that it is most likely brick. In our case, we have 2 of them; when the original one filled/clogged, a second one was added on. Because of this, it functions somewhat similar to a septic with a leachfield. The major difference is that the drywell is buried much deeper and has the potential for emptying almost straight into the water table. This makes it very easy to contaminate the water that we drink from our well.

The previous owners didn't seem to care about the drywell. They used Charmin toilet paper (c'mon, at least use septic-safe stuff!!) and all manner of harsh chemicals for cleaning and washing. This is NOT good for a drywell or your groundwater. Soaps will clog up the soil surrounding the the drywell, which will not allow it to drain properly. If the drywell fails, it will cost a lot of money to remove and replace it with a modern septic.

You don't even think about everything that goes down your drains until you realize that everything you put in your sink or toilet could end up coming out your faucet. We can't use any normal housecleaning products anymore, and we've had to change laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, shampoos, body wash, and shaving creams to products that are all biodegradable. And, honestly, even though we have to be careful about what we use, I feel much better using products that are safe for the earth and for us. Do you know what is in household cleaners?? That's some nasty stuff...

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