I used to do that for 8-10 hours a day before I joined the Army. The smell was bad (especially when climbing into cesspits) but the pay was fantastic for a 17yr old (30 quid an hour back in 1989).
The lads with the company were mostly ex-forces and had a great sense of humour and were good guys apart from one ex-crab who used to eat his sarnies in the bottom of the cesspit. Dirty bugger would also not wear any footwear!
Some of my mothers family used to live in the now Yuppie Infested village of Shirenewton by Chepstow;One of their old neighbours never fails to crease-up when the occupant of their old house starts bragging about the size of the tomatoes and other veg that his `green fingers`just seem to `pop outÂ´of the ground................yes youÂ´ve guessed it,the veg gardenÂ´s where the cess-pool used to be
However, the collected months of fecal matter and nappy liners cascaded down the pipes and caused another blockage downstream. It took maybe an hour of plunging with the drain rods to dislodge the obstruction, each time recovering pieces of nappy liners - supposedly biodegradable. .
Depends on the size of the pipes. Older houses have four inch but new ones are usually six inch or maybe even bigger. Biggest problems I used to come across were sanitary towels and condoms that expanded because they haven't been dealt with properly, i.e. air out and knotted.
Used to quite like doing drains but I am perverse. Very satisfying to hear the gurgle when they cleared and watch all the sh!t go where it was supposed to. No matter how posh people thought they were, the sh!t was always the same. Glad I wasn't the guy called to Dennis Neilson's (sp?) house though.