Septic Tank vs. Sewer: Pros, Cons, and Cost Differences

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Septic Tank vs. Sewer: Pros, Cons, and Cost Differences

Sewer lines are beginning to penetrate new developments, allowing current residents to connect to the municipal sewage system as cities develop. This is a fantastic chance for homes with outdated or failing septic systems to avoid costly replacement expenses, but homeowners with up-to-date septic systems have the opportunity to make the choice if they convert.

What should you do if you're faced with the choice of converting from a septic system to a sewer system? Homeowners will want to understand what sewer and septic systems are, how they differ, and the pros and cons of each before making any major decisions.

What is a Septic Tank and How Does it Work?

A septic tank is a waste disposal system located on the site. A properly built and correctly installed septic tank can last for decades. All drain-pipe waste flows to the sewage tank. The contents of the septic tank are broken down using the collected waste and bacteria.

Inorganic material, byproducts of bacterial digestion, and heavier garbage that sinks to the bottom include fats, greases, oils, and light trash. The surface will be covered with a layer of fatty acids, grease, oil, and lighter waste. The tank must be pumped periodically to keep it operating efficiently.

What is a Sewer System?

A sewer is a system of pipes that transports wastewater from homes and businesses to a treatment plant. A public sewer is available in most towns and cities. In the ideal situation, a sewer system is entirely gravity-powered, such as a septic system. 

The street's sewer main might be 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m) in diameter, for example. A vertical pipe will periodically rise from the main and be covered by a manhole cover on the surface. Manholes provide access to the main for maintenance reasons.

The sewage mains flow into progressively larger pipes until they reach the wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater treatment facility is generally located in a low-lying area to assist gravity in doing its job, and sewer mains often follow creek beds and stream beds (which flow naturally downhill) to the plant. 

Normally, gravity can’t do it all alone. A grinder pump or a lift station is needed in some situations to transport the wastewater over a hill or other obstruction. The water then goes through one, two, or three stages of treatment at the wastewater treatment plant (depending on the plant's sophistication).

Pros and Cons of Septic Tanks


  • Cost-Efficient — Septic tanks are less expensive to build than complex sewage lines, which may be difficult to install and link with the city.
  • Reliability – A septic tank will probably last a long time — especially if it is maintained properly. 
  • Septic systems are not hampered by community blockages, overflows, or backlogs the way sewage systems are.


  • Septic tanks can pollute groundwater if they are not properly maintained.
  • They can only handle a limited amount of wastewater. When the septic tank reaches its capacity, the wastewater must be discharged into a septic drain field.
  • Every 1-3 years, and sometimes up to 5, your septic tank must be pumped out.
  • If a sewage pipe from your septic system breaks, it could release foul-smelling waste into your yard. You'll first notice the odor and then an excessive amount of grass growing in the region.

Pros and Cons of Sewers


  • Sewer systems are built to endure prolonged drenching that could overwhelm a smaller, failing, or unsupervised septic system.
  • Easier Maintenance – A septic system must be emptied and pumped once every few years. Cleaning a sewer system isn't the same as cleaning a tank, because you don't have to dig up your yard. You also won't have to endure the unpleasant smell that comes with opening a septic tank.
  • Sewer systems can readily handle higher water flow, such as a big laundry load or many showers in one day. Septic tanks may become blocked and congested from overwork or accidentally flushed items.


  • When you connect your house to an existing sewage system, it may be costly in a rural location.
  • When your sewage pipes collapse or break on your property, it is up to you to repair the situation (the city is solely responsible for the pipes under the road).
  • A sewage system typically costs several hundred dollars in annual fees. Sewer bills are frequently included with water and weekly trash collection expenses.
  • Many homeowners will be affected if the city sewage line becomes clogged.

Cost of Septic Tanks vs. Sewers

The cost of septic tanks and sewers depends on the size and type of system. Septic tank costs can range from $1,000 to $4,000, while sewer costs are typically incurred on the initial connection, on the plumbing to the connection, and monthly or yearly disposal fees. Altogether, these can range from $10,000 to $50,000.

Tank Depot Carries the Best Selection of Septic Tanks

Tank Depot offers a wide variety of septic tanks, including the parts necessary to make the connection to your home or business, with more shipping locations than anyone in the US. Tank Depot's motto is "Give the customer what they want, fast delivery, quality tanks at unbeatable prices!"

Contact us today and let us help you choose the best tank for your project.

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