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How to Switch from Septic to Sewer?

Septic to Sewer Conversion

A septic system is self-sufficient drainage and waste holding system that is cost-effective and can last for a lifetime, but not everyone prefers to use this type of drainage.

If you want to switch from your septic to sewer, there are multiple steps you’ll need to take to get the project off to a good start and ensure you’re doing everything by the book.

First, you’ll need to contact your local municipalities to see if it’s possible and gather all pertinent details. Then, obtain the permits you’ll need and find a reliable plumber who can get the work done. Once you arrange the project with your plumber and pay, all there’s left to do is wait for your new sewer system.

Read on below for considerations to make before making the decision, the benefits of making the switch, and the actual steps of how to switch from septic to sewer.

What to Consider 

Before you go pulling any permits or putting any deposits down on a plumber, you should know what you’re getting into. There’s a lot that goes into septic to sewer conversions, such as the various costs, permits you’ll need from your municipality to do so legally, and regulatory requirements your property will have to meet. 

On-Site and Offsite Costs

You’ll need to pay for all of the work done in your septic to sewer conversion, including installing the sewer line (often charged by the foot), the trenching for the new line, sewer cleanout, and the hookup itself. Then, you’ve got the offsite costs you’ll need to pay to your city or municipality on top of all that. It can come out to thousands of dollars, with the national average at $3,233, though some can go as high as $9,000.

Permitting

Permits are required before any work can happen on your new sewer line. Anytime major digging is done, especially digging outside of your property line, the worry is that utilities or telecommunication lines may accidentally get cut, disrupting service for all your neighbors. You can get these organizations to come out and mark where the pipelines are so you can avoid this area and then get the permits you need from your city.

Regulatory Requirements

There are also regulatory requirements you’ll need to meet the requirements for your area. After the work is done, prepare to set up final inspections with regulatory agencies such as your country plumbing inspector, your local department of health, and your local environmental protection commission. This ensures the work done is up to area standards and is working effectively without causing any damage or harm to the area.

Switching from Septic to Sewer – Steps to Follow

If you want to know how to switch from septic to sewer, follow these steps as they’re laid out for a simple process. Start by calling your local government office, and they’ll likely tell you to follow the same steps.

Step 1 – Contact Your Municipal Authorities

First, get in touch with the municipal authority that handles plumbing projects and questions. This is usually the public utility department. There’s a chance that a sewer line might not be possible because of the area in which you live. Many rural properties have no choice but to use a septic system as they are located so far from city sewer systems. This is the kind of information your city utility provider will be able to share when you call or visit the office.

Step 2 – Obtain Necessary Permits

When speaking with your municipality, you should also ask in great detail about what permits you’ll need to obtain for the work, where and how you can get these permits pulled, and how much they will cost you. There is usually a sewer extension permit or something similar that you’ll need to get in order before you call a plumber or put a shovel to the ground anywhere on your property.

Step 3 – Find a Reliable Plumber or Plumbing Engineer

Once you’ve gotten express permission from your city and have the permits you need to get the work done professionally and legally, you can start your search for the right plumber or utility engineer that can do the work for you. Septic to sewer conversions aren’t uncommon, so you should be able to find a plumber that specializes in this type of work or has at least done similar work in the past.

As you browse your options, ask them about their experience with projects like this, anything you should look out for, and anything important that you should know before beginning. They should come with great references and have positive online reviews. This will ensure confidence that you’ve hired the right company or person for the job.

Step 4 – Pay

At this point, you will have likely paid for the necessary permits to connect to the sewer from your property, but you’ll still need to pay for the on-site work performed by your plumber.

Depending on where you live and what kind of property you’re on, your municipality may cover a portion of the cost to connect your home to the street sewer. Government subsidies vary, so you should ask your city if any grants are available to help cover the cost.

While this financial help is nice, it shouldn’t be something you expect or plan on going into it. You should be prepared and capable of paying for the entire cost out of your own pocket. If they decide to help a bit to cover the cost, you’ll end up saving money.

The components to keep in mind that may impact the cost you pay for your new sewer line include:

  • Housing type – Single-family homes will need to be covered by the homeowner, while townhomes or condos should be covered by the HOA.
  • Distance to Connecting Line – If your home is far from the nearest connecting line, expect to pay significantly more for the installation cost.
  • City Regulations – Permits can range from $400 to $1600 but will vary based on your city’s sewer authority.
  • Challenges and Obstacles – There are additional hidden costs of replacing yard and landscaping, removing trees, repairing driveways, or resurfacing a patio. It all depends on where you’ll need to dig and how your property is laid out.

Step 5 – Drain and Fill the Septic Tank

The final step is an important one. Any septic tank that is not in use can be an environmental hazard since it’s filled with waste and contaminants. You’ll need to find a septic company that can drain it, and either remove or fill and re-bury it.

Benefits of Switching to Sewer from Septic

Not sure if you’re ready to make the switch from the sewer to septic? Moving to a public sewer line provides many benefits, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Simple monthly wastewater fee
  • City water departments handle any repairs or problems that arise
  • Sewer lines are less susceptible to getting clogged
  • Sewer lines can handle more abuse via items flushed down drains
  • No more costly routine pumping every 3-5 years
  • No risk of having sewage backed up in your yard
  • Capability to add a swimming pool if you want (some cities require sewer to permit new pool builds)

Plus, the time it takes to switch over is relatively quick and easy. There’s very little downtime; you’ll just need to pause your draining for a couple of hours while the new lines are installed.

 

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to switch from septic to sewer. The prep work of getting the right permits pulled, marking the property, and finding the plumber will likely take the most time. It’s a relatively simple process, but the costs can be significant. Follow these steps and review these considerations before you decide to pull the trigger, and you’ll go into the process feeling informed and confident.