What's The Difference Between Septic Tank Systems And Sewer Systems?

9 February 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Septic tanks and sewer systems are both designed to manage waste water for buildings and homes. However, there are many ways that sewer systems and septic tanks are different.

If you're used to living or working on a property that connects to a municipal sewer system, you may not know much about septic systems and how they differ from sewers. These frequently asked questions will help you understand the differences between these two systems.

What's the difference between septic tank systems and sewer systems?

The sewer system is a series of underground pipes and tunnels leading from residences and businesses to a municipal water treatment facility. All waste water that flows through the sewers eventually makes its way to the waste water treatment facility, where it is cleaned and returned to the environment. Sewers are generally found in populated areas like villages, towns and cities.

A septic tank is an underground container that services one property only. All waste water from that property is drained into the septic tank. Solid waste settles to the bottom of the tank where it is broken down by bacteria inside the tank. Overflow from the tank drains into the drain field, where it is absorbed into the ground. When this happens, soil around the drain field filters and cleans the water. Eventually, water from the septic tank system flows into the ground water, where it is recycled. Septic tanks are commonly used in rural areas.

Are septic and sewer systems maintained differently?

Sewer systems require little regular maintenance from home and business owners, however, septic systems require regular pumping in order to function properly. Typically, septic tanks are pumped every 2 or 3 years, depending on the size of the tank and the number of people in the household. To find out a more exact pumping schedule, homeowners are encouraged to talk to the company that does their septic tank pumping service.

In addition, people who live on properties with septic tanks must be more careful about the type of waste water that gets flushed down their drains. Homeowners with septic tanks must be careful not to flush solids (besides human waste) down drain. This includes waste from a garbage disposal unit. Homeowners that want to have a garbage disposal unit but want to avoid damaging their septic tank must use a garbage disposal designed for use with a septic tank.

For more information about the differences between a septic tank and a sewer system, contact a septic tank system repair person, like Southern Sanitary Systems Inc.