Benefits of a septic system
When you own a septic system, you're the one tasked with maintaining it. That can be a good thing, aside from the cost, because it means you can avoid problems by staying current on your upkeep. With a municipal sewer system, a sewer pipe can leak or back up, and if the issue is not addressed, you could have a serious problem on your hands, even though you didn't cause the issue yourself.
Furthermore, there's generally a cost to using a public sewer system; usually you pay a monthly or quarterly fee. Other than maintenance, there's no recurring charge to use your septic system.
Additionally, if you're building a home from scratch, it generally costs less to install a septic system than to pay to have sewer lines installed -- especially if your home sits on a large plot of land and would therefore require a lot of infrastructure to set up a sewer connection.
Not only that, but some feel that a septic system is more eco-friendly than a sewer system. The way septic tanks release water into the nearby soil can lead to plant growth, which helps the environment.
Finally, septic systems can last a really long time, provided they're constructed well and undergo proper maintenance. The average lifespan for a septic system is 25 to 30 years under the right circumstances.
Drawbacks of a septic system
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages and costs you might encounter with a septic system. For one thing, septic systems require maintenance. You'll need to pump out your septic tank every three years (sometimes more often) to avoid too much sludge buildup. The exact timing will depend on your tank size. You should also get a septic system inspection every year or two to ensure that your system is running properly.
Furthermore, you'll need to be very careful about what you flush down your pipes to avoid having your septic system back up. For the most part, that means you're limited to flushing human waste and toilet paper. You'll specifically need to avoid flushing things like:
- Thick paper products, like paper towels.
- Feminine products.
- Cooking oil or grease.
- Baby wipes.
- Household chemicals.
Also, if you have a septic system, it generally means you can't install a garbage disposal under your kitchen sink, because even though that disposal will grind up items to avoid clogged pipes, you don't want to take the risk that those items make their way into your septic system and cause unhealthy buildup.
Additionally, there are some landscaping considerations to account for when you have a septic system. Specifically, you must avoid planting trees right near your septic system's drain field; otherwise, roots could grow into your septic system and cause it to stop working properly. If you're installing a new septic system -- say, to replace a failed septic system or because you're building a new home on the property -- it pays to consult a septic contractor who can advise on where to put the system and where to put other landscaping around it.
The bottom line on septic systems
A septic system generally gives you the option to buy property with more land and to enjoy the benefits that go along with it. If you’re purchasing a home as an investment, added acreage can be a huge selling point. Just make sure you understand what maintenance will be needed to keep your septic system running. The last thing you want is a costly problem on your hands that’s painful to fix.