About Septic Systems
A septic system is one way of dealing with wastewater after it is flushed down your toilets or washed down your drains. Septic systems, unlike sewer systems, are privately owned and maintained. They’re common in rural areas where municipal sewer systems do not exist.
Septic systems consist of two parts: a septic tank and a leach field. Sewage enters the septic tank from a large pipe running from the house. Once in the tank, the sewage is allowed to separate, with solids settling to the bottom and clearer water rising to the top. That clearer water is eventually sent to the leach field, where the remaining solids are removed and the water reenters the earth.
How Much Does a Septic Tank Cost?
The price of a septic system depends on a number of factors, including the size of the system, your region of the country, the type of tank, the type of piping and the local terrain. You could pay as little as $2,000 or upwards of $20,000.
Most smaller systems range in price from $3,000 to $5,000, while larger residential systems fall in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.
Septic Tank Pros
- No monthly cost – There are no monthly costs associated with a private septic system, as there are with municipal sewer systems.
- Better for the environment, some say – Proponents of septic systems argue that they’re better for the environment, although the topic is hotly debated. Septic systems do not contribute to contamination of groundwater caused by aging and leaky sewer lines. And if they fail, the damage is limited to one area; it’s not catastrophic.
Septic Tank Cons
- More maintenance – Septic systems require regular maintenance on your dime. They need to be pumped out every three to five years to prevent overflow or plumbing backups. If they fail, you’re responsible for the repair costs.
- More likely to fail – Homes with septic systems typically can’t handle the same amount of sewage as homes connected to a municipal sewer system. Large amounts of sewage or heavy rains can overwhelm septic systems. If the system fails, the smell and cleanup process can be a nightmare.
Sewers are shared wastewater treatment systems that are owned and managed by the city or town in which you live. Wastewater is flushed away from your home through city-owned pipes to a central treatment facility.
Most people prefer sewer systems to septic systems if they have the choice. However, sewer hookup is not available in all areas, particularly in rural areas.
How Much Does a Sewer Cost?
Connecting your home to a city sewer system is expensive. Hookup fees can range from $5,000 to more than $20,000, as the city or town tries to recoup some of the costs of running sewer lines to your neighborhood. In some areas, the local government requires homeowners to connect to new sewer lines.
In addition to hookup costs, you’ll have to pay a monthly sewer bill. Rates vary widely from one region of the country to another, so you’ll have to check with your local government body for cost estimates.
- No maintenance – With a sewer system, you’ll never have to worry about maintenance. The city or town is responsible for fixing any sewer-related problems that arise.
- Better for the environment, others say – Sewer proponents argue that municipal systems are more eco-friendly because the wastewater is chemically treated before it is returned to the environment.
- Less likely to fail – Sewer systems are designed to handle great capacity. For example, they’re not as likely to flood in periods of heavy rain. And if they do fail, you’re not left with a smelly mess in your backyard and a major expense.
- Monthly cost – Sewer systems come with a monthly cost. Your city or town will charge a fee for providing the service.
Author: Ashley Smith