I am the proud owner of a Class 4 sewage treatment facility. Yup, I’ve got a septic tank and leaching field. Living out in the country means a septic tank is the only reasonable and cost effective means of getting rid of crap. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever see a sewer line go past my place, so I have to invest and maintain my own sewage treatment facility. I say invest, because damn, septic systems aren’t cheap.
A typical septic system (tank and leaching field) costs around $12,000 to install around here. Of course, you have to have the space for one. If you’re on a small lot or have a well nearby, you might have to put in a tertiary treatment system, which often cost upwards of $20,000. Conventional system or not, a septic system is an expensive component of your house, and one that is often forgotten about because it’s out of sight, out of mind. Lots of people save for replacing their roof or fixing a deck, but not very many people seem to remember to save for a septic system. It’s almost like a hidden cost of living out in the country that no one likes to talk about. Working in the municipal infrastructure field, I hear lots of people complaining about the cost of sanitary sewers, but most people seem to forget that replacing a septic system can be just as expensive as getting a sewer connection.
The cost of a septic system isn’t limited to just the cost of putting the system in or replacing it either. Septic tanks have to be pumped every 3-5 years. The cost of a pump-out varies. Around here, I can get my system pumped out for $150. I know in other municipalities in Southern Ontario, it costs upwards of $250. A pump-out in the winter will cost you even more because the sludge has to be stored somewhere through the winter. When you need a pump-out, you need a pump-out, there’s not a lot of forgiveness where that is concerned. Unless you enjoy backed up fixtures and a mushy lawn, of course.
It’s a little crazy to think that there is $12,000 in concrete and perforated pipe buried out in my yard, and that in 20 years (hoping of course, the system does last its full life expectancy), I’m going to have to shell out some major cash to replace it. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to a/ save for a new system that I will eventually have to put in and b/ maintain my current system so it will last as long as possible. Hopefully any visiting guests who come from the land of sanitary sewers will forgive the as-little-as-possible-ply toilet paper and my household ban on chemical, septic busting cleaning products. After all, I’ve got an investment to protect.