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Compare Septic Costs and Prices

Installing a wastewater treatment system is an investment not only in the value of your property, but also in the safety of your family and pets, and in the protection of the environment. Wastewater treatment is one of the main functions of your home. You want to get this right!

Unfortunately, sewage treatment is a major cost of home ownership. This is true whether you are connected to a municipal sewer or treating the sewage yourself. Initial investments in equipment and installation can range between $12,000 and $21,000 or more, depending on property-related constraints and the bids of contractors who will do the work.

But costs do not stop there. Let’s take a look at all of the costs typical of septic system options.

Fully Treated Sewage Partially Treated Sewage Untreated Sewage
Style Surface Dispersal Mound or Leach Field Mound or Leach Field
Safety Considerations Fail-Safe Design Can Leak Sewage Can Leak Sewage
Level of Site Restriction
Unrestricted Fully Restricted Fully Restricted
Installation Time
2 days 3-5 days 3-5 days
Impact on Landscaping Non-Intrusive Can Be or Is Intrusive Can Be or Is Intrusive
Installed System Cost $23,000 $17,000 – $21,000 $12,000 – $20,000
20-Year Operation, Maintenance & Hidden Costs
$27,000 $49,000 – $53,000 $36,000 – $44,000
Total 20-Year System Costs
$50,000 $66,000 – $74,000 $48,000 – $64,000

Systems that provide treatment have parts to be maintained, require service, and use energy. By contrast, simpler systems (if you can use them) require more land and typically require digging up a large portion of the backyard and the removal of trees. Also, systems with subsurface dispersal combined with partial or no treatment will ultimately fail and require more land and digging. Don’t worry — this can almost always be avoided with newer approaches like pairing a full treatment system like the LandSaver® MBR with the least intrusive method of treated water distribution.

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Compare Septic System Costs:

System and installation costs typically range from $12,000 to $21,000. They can be $1,000 to $3,000 lower if you have an easy property to work with and get a low bid for installation, and they can be $5,000 or more higher if your property presents problems for installing a leach field or mound. Days on site for the installer and his equipment determine installation costs.

A benefit of partial and full treating systems is that less land is required, and treatment is better and safer. The downside is that treatment equipment uses power and needs routine maintenance. Prepare now for that in making your decision. Over twenty years, these costs can add up. When having a system quoted, get in writing what to expect here.

All systems require that the collection tanks be pumped every two to three years, depending on use. If they are not pumped, you will hasten the decline of your dispersal field. Any grease and solids that leave your treatment system or holding tank and enter the leach field causes irreversible damage.

Full and partial treatment systems should be checked twice a year. Some states require this, some do not. Regardless, it is in your best interest to have your system serviced. Spending $200 to $300 per year on this can save you thousands in avoidable repairs. More advanced systems like the LandSaver® MBR have well-designed controls that monitor the system for you and for your service technician. They help a technician quickly pinpoint a system issue without guess work and eliminate unnecessary repairs and visits to your home.

More advanced systems also typically have automated system monitoring and provide early warnings that something needs looked at before it becomes a problem. Never ignore a system alarm or warning. Get service scheduled when you get these. When something with a sewage treatment is going wrong and not attended to, it usually results in long-term and expensive damage to your system or dispersal field. Think of the warning lights on your control box as a “check engine” light of a car that comes on if oil is low. A few dollars of oil can save your engine.

Both partial and full treatment systems provide air to help beneficial bacteria breakdown organic compounds. They have an air supply system that runs almost continually and requires electricity. There are several ways to accomplish air delivery, but most typically use about $1 per day of electricity. Over twenty years this adds up. Don’t turn off or try to reduce power used by these systems. It will interfere with treatment performance and result in plugging of your dispersal field.

In looking at the cost table above, you will see that partial and fully treated systems cost about the same to purchase and install and 50% to 100% more than systems that send untreated sewage to the dispersal field. The cost difference is even greater after considering operating and maintenance costs that can add up to $25,000 to $30,000 to the 20-year cost of home sewage treatment.  Often, you cannot avoid using a treatment system. Even if you can, it is important to consider longer-term hidden costs that can be large and change the total cost of your decision. These hidden costs are explained in the link below.

Understand Long-Term Costs of Home Sewage Treatment

Costs of replacement dispersal fields, extra land, and compliance with regulations are often overlooked.

Explore Hidden Costs That Add Up