Both sewers and septic tanks attach to the wastewater lines that come out of your building.
In the case of a septic tank, the line will feed into a large container that processes the waste with bacteria and gravity before sending it out into tubes that spread the material through a wide swathe of ground to be further filtered. They require a large amount of space for the tank and drain field, but they can otherwise be installed anywhere.
The sewer system operates on similar principles on a larger scale; the sewage lines from your home feed into the city's sewers where it's then carried away to a shared filtering system. A home has to be built near the city's sewer in order to take advantage of it.
Cities regulate the installation of septic systems for the sake of maintaining a healthy environment for the community, so you will need to consider these laws before deciding which to use. Septic tanks tend to have more stringent rules as they have special requirements like access to a drain field location. Other cities may even mandate the use of sewers over septic tanks, so it's up to you to investigate the rules.
Cost of Implementation
A new septic system can cost well over $10,000 between purchasing the tank and the labor to install it. Connecting a private residence to a public sewer line obviates the need for a tank, dropping the average cost down to $2,500. Since most homes will have one or the other built into them, the effective cost of implementation drops to $0 for that type.
Maintaining the System
Septic tank systems are the responsibility of the homeowner to repair and maintain, but they are reliable and stable systems as long as they are cared for properly. You will need to have the tank pumped every three to five years or so depending on the size and usage levels of your home, which will cost a few hundred or less based on the size of the tank and the difficulty in accessing it.
Sewers, on the other hand, cut your maintenance needs down to your internal plumbing, but you will have to pay a monthly fee to the municipality for the service. If a problem does occur beyond your sewage access line, then you will have to wait for the city to fix the issue.
Seek Septic Expert Advice
Every home has unique needs for its plumbing system that requires an in-depth examination from a trusted and reliable expert like those at Septic Check. Before you decide on a vital piece of your home's infrastructure, ask a wastewater professional with knowledge of your local area for their opinion on which waste management system is right for you.