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Conventional Septic System

By Corey Tournet August 27, 2018

Advantages of a conventional septic system:

  • Lower cost
  • Simple design, no pumps to burn out or clog up
  • Septic contractors familiar with design

Disadvantages of a conventional septic system: Not all locations are suitable for conventional septic systems. These reasons include but are not limited to lack of space for a drainfield, high water table, proximity to wells and/or other bodies of water, inadequate percolation rates etc.

There are three main components to a conventional, gravity-fed septic system   

  • A pipe carrying the waste water from the house to the septic tank
  • A septic tank, where the heavier wastes settle out and treatment occurs
  • A leachfield or drainfield, which receives and treats the wastewater after it is processed in the septic tank. There are several types of leachfields, such as chambers, gravel and gravelless.

Cost of a conventional septic system:  The cost of a new septic system will vary around the country according to local labor and material rates.There are three kinds of costs associated with a new septic system: the original installation costs, the maintenance and repair costs, and the replacement costs if things go wrong. Proper steps taken in the installation and maintenance will prevent many of the replacement costs.

Installation costs: In the mid-west where materials and labor rates are reasonably priced, a standard, gravity-fed tank and trench system will run $3,000 to $5,000. In certain parts of the country these figures can increase by 50-100%.

Maintenance Costs: The typical annual costs of a new septic system drainfield or mound system range from $30 up to $500 with the high end including replacement costs of pumps in mound systems. Standard, gravity-fed tank and trench systems typically only need to be pumped/inspected every 1-3 years and will cost $75 to $150 per pumping.

Lifetime Costs: The typical total cost for a new septic system over a 20 year period is $6,300 to $13,000 for trenches and mounds, or $13,500 to $32,000 for alternative treatment systems.

Summary: Any type of new septic system, if it built and used properly, has the potential to last 20, 30, 40 years or more. Some systems will need pumps replaced periodically and treatment media rejuvenated.

Of course the proper operation and management of any system is dependent on educating the people that use those systems how to properly use those systems…something that has been missing from the equation from day one.

In most cases the cost of a new septic system is a much better option than a public sewer, from a financial point of view. A sewage treatment facility will usually cost $12,000 to $30,000 to get hooked-up and $350 to $1,000 per year.

As you may know from researching this topic, failing septic systems are a major financial and environmental problem in this country. Expensive septic repairs can often run from $5,000 to $20,000 or more and a large number of systems are failing throughout the country. For news stories related to failing septic systems and tightening regulations you can go to:

You also can’t sell your home if it has a failing system. For more information on how to properly maintain your septic system, go to:

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