Sewer or Septic? The Differences Between Them

When you start looking at houses for sale, you have many things to think about so that you can make the right choice. One of the house features that you may not understand is the sewer or septic system. These are two methods used to rid your home of the waste that is flushed down the toilet or goes down the drain.  Before you purchase a home, it is important to understand the difference between sewer and septic. This will enable you to make an      educated decision and not run into unexpected problems down the road. Once you've decided which will work best for you, it doesn't hurt to mention your preference to your real estate agent, so he or  she can help you find homes offering that feature.

The city or county usually supplies sewer service. The waste from your home is carried by your plumbing into a larger line. The waste normally makes its way to a treatment facility where it is processed and the clean water returned to the ecosystem. In most areas, there is a monthly fee for this service that s based on the home's water usage. The benefits of this system is that it is essentially worry-free, since there is no on-site waste  storage.

A septic system is installed on the property itself. It consists of an in-ground tank and other equipment. The tank collects liquids and solids, and the liquids eventually leech off and are returned to the ground water supply. Solids accumulate and eventually break down through biodegrading.  The main benefit to having a septic system is that it can be installed anywhere, since it does not rely on the city or county to service it. However, a septic system will require occasional pumping to keep it working at full capacity.

What Are the Costs Associated with Being on Sewer vs. Septic?

One of the most important things to consider when you are looking at homes for sale is having either a septic or sewer system. Each of these has their own benefits and drawbacks. Consider some of the different costs associated with each type of system:

Septic System

  • You will have to pay for the tank itself. Even if the tank is already installed, you may have to replace it one day.
  • Septic tanks need pumping every three to five years. This cost may vary depending on the service you use.
  • You will need to use a septic system treatment chemical in your tank monthly.

Sewer System

Your only charge for using a sewer system is a monthly charge through your city or county. For the most part, this is based on your water usage. In        most cases, the city or county will take care of all maintenance fees associated with the sewer system on your home. Those who do not want to deal with ongoing maintenance may find that a sewer system suits them better, even if the cost is a bit higher.

Thinking about the costs associated with the septic or sewer system is an important part of your property search process. Because of the different considerations, it is not always clear-cut  whether choosing a sewer or septic system is the best choice. Weigh the pros and cons for your particular situation, and keep in mind that rates may change in the future.

Maintenance Tips for the Homeowner with a Septic System

A septic system is one way that the waste product from homes or businesses is processed. This on-site solution stores the waste in a tank underground where the liquid can separate and return to the ground, while the solid waste is collected and eventually pumped and taken to a processing facility. Unlike a sewer  system, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of the septic tank, keeping it up and running. Because of this, it is important   that you understand how to keep the system working well, while spending as little as possible. Whether you are looking at homes for sale that already have a septic system, or you are considering installing one--these tips will help.

  • Have your tank pumped regularly. The price varies from location to location, but can prevent the buildup of sludge and keep the tank from leaking into your drain field.
  • Do not overload the system. Try to avoid using dishwashers or laundry facilities at the same time that someone is showering.
  • Do not flush diapers, feminine hygiene products, or other items in the toilet, and do not dump  coffee grounds, fats or oils in the sink. These products will fill your tank more quickly causing it to need pumping more quickly.
  • Do not plant sprouts or trees near the septic tank or drain field. Also try to avoid driving or parking on the septic field as this leads the soil to            compact and prevents optimal drainage.