What’s The Difference? Sewers Vs. Septic Systems

So you’re thinking about buying a home and you’ve been looking at some properties that have sewer lines and other properties that have septic tanks. If you’re struggling to decide which one is better for you, it’s important to understand the differences between these two systems.

Sewers and Septic Systems: A Brief Overview

Before you can decide which system is better for you, you should first understand the very basics of how these systems work.

Sewer systems are a series of underground pipes that haul away waste water from a home in a town. The waste water is then treated in a water treatment facility before being returned to the environment.

Septic tanks are kind of like mini private sewer systems. The water is held in a tank in the ground beneath the property, and over time that water is filtered out of the system and into the drain field area.

Sewer Systems: Pros and Cons

Sewer systems get a good rap, maybe because they’re maintained by public agencies and homeowners feel less responsible for the care and upkeep of the sewer system. That said, there are  pros and cons associated with sewer systems.


  • Home buyers look on sewer systems favorably.
  • Sewer systems require less regular maintenance from the homeowner.
  • Compared to septic tanks, sewer systems may be less sensitive to non-human waste that’s commonly flushed down the pipes.


  • Sewer systems aren’t free. Homeowners pay for the use of the sewer system just like they pay for water and electricity. In addition, sewer upgrades can cost homeowners quite a bit either in billing increases or at the time of a home purchase.
  • Homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that connects the house to the public sewer system. When this line clogs or deteriorates, repairs will be necessary.

Septic Systems: Pros and Cons

Septic tanks are misunderstood, probably because many homeowners don’t have septic tanks. Before you form negative opinions about septic tanks, it’s important to understand the good and bad qualities of septic systems.


  • Septic systems are environmentally friendly because they require no power and no chemicals in order for the water to be cleaned. Waste water in a septic system is filtered through the ground and bacteria is shed through this filtering system.
  • Homeowners who have septic systems are generally more responsible with the type of waste they produce in their homes, because they’re financially responsible for taking care of their septic tank.


  • Septic tanks do need to be pumped out every 3 years or so, sometimes more often, depending on the size of the tank and the amount of waste water produced by the household.
  • Septic tanks are more sensitive to solid waste that can get flushed down the pipes of a home. Tampons, garbage disposal food waste and kitty litter can all easily do damage to a septic tank.
  • Septic tanks are misunderstood by many home buyers who have only ever owned or lived in homes connected to public sewer systems. This can make it more difficult to sell a home with a septic tank.

Which One is Better?

Given a choice between a sewer system and a septic tank, it’s hard to say which one is better. The truth is that these systems are just different from one another. If you’re thinking about buying a home with a septic tank, once you understand the care and maintenance of septic system, you should be able to comfortably live in a home with a septic tank.

If you’re thinking about buying a home connected to a sewer system, look into sewer betterment fees that may apply at the time of purchase.

At Terry’s Plumbing, we can answer any questions you have about living in a home with a sewer or septic tank. We can also help you maintain those systems. If needed, contact us about clearing clogs from your sewer or septic tank. We’re happy to help!