Septic Tank Or City Sewer System: Which Option Is Right For You?

There are two ways to deal with waste water from your home: a septic tank and the city sewer system. Each system essentially does the same thing, each with their own set of pros and cons.

So which option is best for you?

The Septic Tank: A Private Waste water System

A septic tank is an underground tank that holds waste water from your home. Like the public city sewer, a private septic tank has a channel of pipes that transports water from your sinks, toilets, and laundry facilities into the tank. It then uses chemicals to treat the water.

There are main advantages to have a septic system is its price. It is usually more affordable because it has:

  • Zero Monthly Fees: Since it is a private system, you will not incur any monthly fees.
  • No Water Bill: Most homes that use a septic tank have a water well on the property, which means you do not have to pay for a monthly water bill.

Although a private septic system is more affordable, it does have its own set of disadvantages. Some include:

  • Routine Maintenance: Private septic systems require regular maintenance and need to be pumped every 3-5 years.
  • Repair Costs: If the system fails or becomes damaged, you are required to pay for repairs out-of-pocket.
  • Water Usage: Depending on the size of your household, you may need to monitor your monthly water usage. Septic tanks can only hold so much fluid and waste, so if you have a large family you may need more frequent pumps.

As you can see, there are several advantages—and disadvantages—to owning a private septic system. The choice you make is entirely up to you, and largely depends on your lifestyle and family size.

The City Sewer: A Public Waste Water System

A city sewer is a public (or shared) waste water system that belongs to the city. Like a private system, it uses pipes to transport waste water out of your home and into underground city pipes, and finally to a city waste water treatment center.

There are some advantages to being hooked up to a city sewer system. Some include:

  • Zero Maintenance: Since the system belongs to the city, you are not required to pay for or perform any maintenance on the sewer system.
  • No Repair Costs: There are no repair costs, as the city is responsible for keeping the system in working condition.
  • No Down Time or Unpleasant Smells: City sewer systems are large and designed to handle a lot of waste. Because they can handle so much fluid and waste, they are less likely to fail and leave you stranded without a sewer system. If they do happen to fail though, you will not be stuck with a smelly mess in your yard.

These advantages are very nice and make a public sewer system appealing to most homeowners. However, as you might expect is also has its disadvantages, which include:

  • Monthly Costs: Using the city sewer system comes with a fee. Although it is not very high—in most cases—it can be a downfall, as it is something you will have to pay for as long as you use it and live within the city.

As you can see, a public sewer system is ideal for many homeowners and city dwellers.


Depending on where you live, you may not have a choice between the two options. However, if you do have a choice, take the time to weigh your options carefully—it's an important decision for your home and budget. To learn more, contact a company like Honest John's Septic Service Inc. with any questions you have.