We are often asked which is better: private sewage systems or public? This is the standard Ford or Chevy question. You could literally get people that would argue for or against either system. Each system basically makes a home functional by disposing of sewage. There are advantages and disadvantages with both. Most people honestly do not know which they have until a crisis arises that forces them to determine. Usually, it is on one of the many pieces of paper you sign and receive with your home mortgage paperwork. While each system performs the same function there are some distinct characteristics of each.
I will start with private sewage systems, or, more commonly referred to as Septic systems. Traditionally septic systems are installed in rural areas. This is due to the fact that there really is not another option available. The basic design allows for one “main drain” to carry waste to the outside of the home and into a 1500 gallon tank. From the backside of the tank, the liquid waste is carried to a series of “field lines”. These allow for the drainage of the waste into the ground. Without getting too descriptive, the tank retains the solids and the field lines carry the liquid over a specified distance as determined by the county health department. When properly designed, and installed, these systems can last 20-30 years with little to no maintenance. There is no monthly sewage bill from your utility provider. The downside is the burden of repair is completely on the homeowner.
Public sewage systems are different in that the basic design allows for all waste from a private home to be carried to a waste treatment facility. This is an engineering feat that uses various size drainage pipes, and, often times, lift stations that use pumps to compensate for elevation changes when gravity is not possible. These systems are maintenance free for the homeowner in 99% of the cases where they are installed. There is the rare instance when the system is damaged and service is interrupted temporarily. The upside is that the burden of repair is the responsibility of the utility that owns it. The downside is that you receive a bill monthly for sewage disposal. It is typically coupled with your water bill and is calculated based off of water usage.
As you can see, there are many differences between the two types of systems. While each system will perform the task equally well, the key is to use the system as it was designed. Each week we receive the frantic call from a homeowner who has “flushed’ any number of various items down the drains that was never intended to be there. Accidents will always occur, however, there are a few tips to keep your system functioning properly. Don’t flush ANYTHING down the toilet except waste and toilet paper. No wipes, paint, vacuum debris, glass, dirt or construction debris. I really believe that some people out there think that if something is flushed down the toilet it magically disappears. Hopefully, we can dispel that myth. Take these precautions and you will avert disaster but if all else fails have the number to AllGood Plumbing saved in your phone and we will be glad to rescue you from your drain catastrophe.