Septic vs Sewer: What’s The Difference?

Whenever a toilet is flushed, or hands are washed in buildings and residential properties drainage systems is used. These drainage systems are what makes wastewater disappear. Drainage systems help make so may functions in daily life possible. People don’t stop and think about the mechanisms that go into the drainage process. The whole thing basically comes down to two types of systems: sewer and septic. Septic systems and sewer systems both do the same thing, and in much the same way. Both act as wastewater treatment plants in collecting, processing, and disposing of human waste. Sewer systems are the most common system used because they are funded and maintained by local municipalities. Septic systems are becoming more popular as an affordable, environmentally conscious alternative to the traditional sewer system. Septic system also give homeowners full control over their drainage.

Sewer or Septic System: Myths and Facts

When it comes to the sewer vs. septic system debate, a lot of myths and inaccuracies exists. Sewer are viewed as the cheaper and easier option due to the lack of maintenance required. Sewers allow you to wash something down the drain and it’s gone forever.

Septic systems are viewed as the eco-friendlier option. Many people are still apprehensive about the costs and maintenance involved. Homes linked to sewer lines have higher resale value. Homes equipped with a septic system are less desirable. But does the latter really cost more and require frequent maintenance?

Septic vs Sewer System: The Biggest Differences Between the Two

The biggest selling point of owning a septic system is the ability to set one up anywhere with healthy soil. For a new house in a remote area, connecting to a sewer system is usually costly and difficult. In some cases, it’s even impossible due to the lack of sewer infrastructure nearby. For those situations a septic system can be a viable alternative. Furthermore, septic systems don’t come with the municipal obligations of sewage lines. Therefore there is no need to worry about municipal infrastructural renovation costs on pipes, pumping stations, or treatment plants.

However, sewer systems have the power to handle large amounts of wastewater from cities, towns, and suburbs. Due to the marketability of houses on sewer lines, many homeowners still prefer such properties. Sewer lines are built to accommodate the largest possible volume of water. The management of sewer lines fall on local governments and municipalities. The public believes that sewer systems will be better managed and maintained by these government agencies. Any homeowner who has had a septic system backup will find the idea of a treatment plant very attractive. The process of sending wastewater to a treatment plant takes most responsibility off the homeowners.

Given these differences, the preference between one system or the other could largely be based on the homeowner’s personal preference. Investing in a septic system may not be the best option if you plan on moving often. For a remote or custom-built home a septic system maybe the only choice. In remote areas sewer infrastructure does not typically exist. A septic system gives you the sole responsibility for your own wastewater and independence from municipal responsibility.

Similarities Between Sewer and Septic Systems

In many ways, sewers and septic systems offer the same benefits. Both systems filter out black water and grey water. In terms of sanitation, both systems filter bacteria and pathogens from water before it flows back out into the environment. The two systems both offer reliable drainage of wastewater from houses and buildings with minimal problems most of the time.

Both systems, however, can also have their drawbacks. A sewer system connects whole communities to one centralized drain field. Sewers do get clogged with grease, hair, and other hard elements. All of these can cause sewage to plug up sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. Sewage systems are paid for and maintained by local governments. Residents don’t have to handle the maintenance or labor. The municipality’s responsibility for your sewer line ends where your sewer line connects to the city sewer system. The rest of your sewer line from the city connection to the home is the homeowner’s responsibility. However the homeowner does have to pay monthly fees.

Septic systems, by contrast, are generally the responsibility of private homeowners. A septic tank should perform without issue over its lifespan as long as the tank is pumped and maintained regularly. If a tank does malfunction, it’s likely due to negligence on the part of the homeowner. Therefore it’s the homeowners responsibility to call out a service crew and pay for the needed repairs.

Neither system can handle things that aren’t supposed to be processed with wastewater. That can include grease, hair, cigarette butts, condoms and female hygiene products, and even hazardous chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These items can clog both systems and damage water tables. Also, storms and flooding can overrun both types of treatment systems.

Septic Tank vs Sewer Cost

The costs of septic system repairs can be considerable. However the fact that municipal sewer systems also come with some hefty costs is not as well known. Homeowners can be charged fees for installation and repairs on newer sewage systems. Municipal boards have tried to figure out the best ways to handle sewer development costs. Certain municipalities have gone so far as to impose liens on homes that haven’t paid their fees. Houses everywhere could be subject to paying for the construction costs. Properties situated in sparsely populated areas could to pay the highest fees. Due to the small number of taxpayers who live in these areas there are fewer homes to share the costs.

On average a standard sized septic system for a household can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000. The cost of maintenance on a septic tank comes mostly from pumping. Septic tanks only need to be pumped every 3-5 years. The typical cost for pumping a septic tank falls within a price-range $200 to $300. With proper maintenance, some tanks can go for a decade or more between pumps. Steel tanks have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. Whereas concrete septic tanks can last as long as 40 years.

Benefits of Septic vs Sewer

Septic tanks are known to be a eco friendly alternative to old fashioned sewer systems. Sewer systems require energy and chemicals to pump and treat the water. Septic systems pump and treat water without the need for energy or chemicals. A septic system returns the used water to the aquifer. The aquifer will never overflows if properly maintained. If not maintained a septic tank can cause pollution of groundwater and streams.

The benefits of a sewer system include, very minimal maintenance. Peace of mind knowing that your wastewater is being treated properly and sanitized by the city’s treatment plant. There are issues that can arise involving the stability of treatment plants. Treatment plants can overflow during an intense downpour or overuse. Although there is a regular and repeating cost from connected to a sewer system. The monthly utility bill will typically be affordable and consistent. You can budget for your monthly expense with very little fluctuation in price.

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