A green sewage hose entering a hole in a sewer grate, with the cover open

Septic vs. Sewer: What’s the Difference?

Septic vs. Sewer: What’s the Difference?

The age-old debate over which option is better. Sewer or septic? Everyone has an opinion, and we’re not here to render a verdict. Simply, we’re going to break down how each system works so you can be more informed about your home sewage system.

Both systems are common around the country, and you often don’t have a choice of which will be installed at your home. But you should still have knowledge of both options and how they can each impact your home sewage.

System Footprint

A significant difference between septic systems and sewer systems is how they connect with the rest of your home.

Septic systems operate completely on your property. They collect and process waste within the tank and drain field, and the process repeats itself. All treatment, maintenance, and repair is done on your property.

Sewer systems are shared between your home and other homes in your community. This is because sewer systems are generally controlled by the local municipality. The only part of the system that is on your property is the sewer line, which connects all your waste pipes to the main sewer conglomerate. Your sewer line connects to a larger one in the street that is also connected to other homes within the network. Finally, the collected waste arrives at a treatment plant, where it is processed until it can be safely released back into the environment.

Required Maintenance

With a septic system, care is in your hands (and the hands of your trusted plumbing team). You need to keep up with treatment, make sure you aren’t causing clogs, ensure a healthy bacterial environment, and get pumpings every three to five years. You are also responsible for repairs and other issues that may arise in the life of your septic system.

Sewer systems are less maintenance-heavy, as the bulk of the work is taken care of by the local government. This could be a double-edged sword, however, as when maintenance is required, you have less control over when and how long it takes place. You also don’t have to worry about flooding impacting your sewage system. However, if there is a clog or break in the sewer line on your property, you would be responsible for the repairs.

Environmental Impact

No matter which method is used, proper treatment is key to ensuring public and environmental safety.

With septic systems, the homeowner needs to ensure a proper environment for breaking down waste and that their drain field is working properly. Otherwise, contaminated water can seep into the ground, harming the environment and water sources.

Untreated sewage can spread disease through local water sources like lakes, rivers, streams, and more. It can even impact local plant growth and marine life.

Some Things Never Change

No matter which system you use, the rules about drain etiquette are pretty much the same. Though it’s true that if you have a sewer, what you put down the drain eventually ends up at a community treatment plant, there’s still plenty of room for error.

You still need to be careful not to put things down the drain that may clog either your septic or sewer line. Many “flushable” wipes will say on the label that they are septic and sewer safe. This is hardly ever the case, as “flushable wipes” are a common culprit of sewer and septic clogs.

Efficient Sewer and Septic Treatment

Whether you have a busted sewer line or want to ensure your sewage is being treated properly, the Integrated Plumbing Solutions is the best choice to help. Contact our expert team today at (770) 343-7370 to make an appointment.