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Home Home Improvement Are Sewer Systems or Septic Tanks Better?

Are Sewer Systems or Septic Tanks Better?

Sewer systems are more common as they’re funded and maintained by a local government, but septic systems have become increasingly popular in recent years as a more environmentally sound, affordable alternative. 

When searching for a new home among the Whistler homes for sale or properties anywhere else, one of the factors you might want to consider is whether it has a septic tank or if it’s part of a shared wastewater treatment system, owned and managed by the city in which it’s located. There are pros and cons to both that are important to think about too when determining overall costs and other factors. 

The Cost

If you’re looking at buying raw land and building a home, comparing the costs of a septic tank vs. a sewer system can help you make your decision. Of course, for a home that’s being custom-built, in a sparse environment, deep in the forest, on a remote hill, etc., a septic system will probably be your only choice. The price of a septic system depends on multiple factors, like the type of tank, the size of the system, the kind of piping, the local terrain, and the region of the country. According to HomeGuide, the average cost of a new septic tank system is a little under $4,000, ranging from $3,280 to $5,049 for a 1.25-gallon system that supports a three- or four-bedroom home, but it can cost $10,000 or more.

If you have to connect a home to a municipal sewer system, hookup fees can be anywhere from $5,000 to over $20,000 as the city will be looking to recoup some of the costs involved in running sewer lines to the neighborhood or property. Once it’s installed, you’ll have to pay a monthly sewer bill, something you won’t have to worry about with a septic system.

Environmental Impact

Particularly among younger homebuyers who tend to be more environmentally focused, septic tanks have become a selling point for properties as they’re a green-friendly alternative to a sewer system. With a sewer system, chemicals and energy are required for pumping and treating water, which can have a negative impact on rivers, as bacteria from the stream of sewage flows outward. Additionally, treatment plants can overflow during heavy rains or overuse. 

Septic systems can treat and pump water without using chemicals or energy. Problems typically only arise when there is negligence involved, such as an inadequately maintained tank with outflow detrimental to the water purity of lakes, rivers, and the surrounding environment as a whole. 


That said, septic systems require regular maintenance, which comes at a cost. They have to be pumped out every three to five years to prevent plumbing backups or overflow. These systems are also more likely to fail as they can’t handle the same amount of sewage as a home connected to a municipal sewer system, and when they do, not only can the smell and cleanup process be overwhelming, it’s often a pricey fix.

With a sewer system, all you have to do is flush, there is no maintenance required, and if it fails, the city will be responsible for any repairs.

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