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The Difference Between Septic Tanks and Sewers

The Difference Between Septic Tanks and Sewers

The Difference Between a Septic Tank and Sewers

While handling wastewater might not be the most glamorous aspect of plumbing systems, it plays a very important role in keeping our homes clean and hygienic.

There are two ways a home might handle its wastewater collection, either through a sewer or through a septic tank. In this post, Caldwell Plumbing will discuss the difference between the two and where each system is more commonly used in Durham Region. Learn more below!

Sewer System

A sewer system is a set of pipes that connect homes and businesses to treatment plants so that wastewater from items like toilets, drains and washing appliances can be quickly collected and transported.

Sewer systems are efficient for handling large groups of people, especially those with high population density like cities.

Many sewer systems have more than one level. For example, the nearby city of Toronto has two sewer systems. The first is a sanitary sewer, which carries wastewater from homes and buildings to processing plants where they are treated and cleaned. The newly treated water is then released into nearby Lake Ontario. The second sewer system collects wastewater that comes from rain, snowmelt and spillages to prevent flooding.

Places in Ontario Likely to Use a Sewer System

Because sewer systems require a network of large pipes, they are often only limited to cities and towns. You will find sewer systems in areas of Durham Region such as:

  • Ajax
  • Oshawa
  • Pickering
  • Bowmanville
  • Courtice
  • Whitby

Other areas may also use a mixture of sewer systems alongside septic tanks. An example is the town of Uxbridge, which is budgeting more to expand its municipal sewer system while some residents remain connected to a septic tank.

Septic Tanks

Unlike sewers, a septic tank is a large tank that sits underground near a property. It is connected to property through pipes and will collect its wastewater. Septic tanks are popular and often necessary in more isolated homes across Durham Region and Southern Ontario. This is because it is hard to justify spending a large amount of money to build a sewer system for only a few households.

However, that does not mean septic tanks are less effective. In fact, septic tanks are generally more environmentally-friendly as they do not need to push wastewater far over to treatment plants. Instead, wastewater that has accumulated in a tank over time, will be collected every three to five years and taken to the treatment plant via road.

Waterfront Septic Systems

Some waterfront properties such as lakeside cottages are somewhere in between the two systems. They rely on both a septic tank and an on-site cleaning system to handle their wastewater. This is because the ground closest to Ontario’s lakeshores are fairly wet and prone to flooding, meaning wastewater could easily escape into the lake without being processed.

Sewage Pump Repairs & Installations in Durham Region

While septic tanks and sewers both have their advantages and disadvantages, they do play a special role in keeping a home hygienic. That’s why it’s important to have your wastewater plumbing in top condition so your sewage system can do its job through a working sewage pump.

If you have concerns about your home or businesses’ sewage pump and are in the Durham Region, call Caldwell Plumbing for an inspection today. Our team of plumbing experts will be able to detect, repair and install sewage pumps so you can have peace of mind that your wastewater is being handled properly.


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