Compare Mound vs Conventional Septic System Costs
How Much Does a Septic System Cost?
Not everyone has the convenience of access to a public sewer system. If your property is outside the reach of city pipes, you’re one of the lucky folks with the pleasure of dealing with a septic system. And what a pleasure it is (wink, wink).
All septic systems are designed to collect, treat and dispose of wastewater generated by homes and businesses without access to public sewer. However, not all septic systems are alike. The characteristics of your soil determine which type you need.
Here, we’ll help you understand the difference between a conventional septic system and the increasingly-popular mound septic system. It may not be an exciting topic, but the distinction is important: installing the wrong type of septic system can lead to groundwater contamination.
About Mound Septic Systems
Mound septic systems are necessary in areas with high groundwater or bedrock. The soil absorption part of the system is installed above ground, usually masked by a sand mound (hence the name). Because the absorption part is above ground, these septics require a pump to force waste up to the mound.
Mound systems are relatively low maintenance, but they’re also expensive and difficult to design. They literally create a giant mound of wasted space in your yard, and you can’t hide them with trees or plants because the roots could compromise the septic. Mound systems also require more frequent inspections.
With all those drawbacks, you might wonder why anyone would opt for a mound septic system. Usually it’s not a choice. In areas with high groundwater or bedrock, local laws or ordinances are increasingly requiring mound systems.
About Conventional Septic Systems
Conventional septic systems are installed completely below the surface of the soil. This is the preferred option when the groundwater is deep enough.
There are two components to conventional systems: the septic tank and the drain field (also called the leach field). The septic tank stores waste and gradually separates solids from liquids. The leach field is where wastewater is treated and released. Unlike mound systems, no electrical pump is needed.
Cost of Mound Septic Systems
Mound septic systems are considerably more expensive than conventional septics because they require more sophisticated construction. The cost of the electric pump and sand also contributes to the total price.
In most cases, budget anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 for a mound septic system. However, keep in mind that prices vary widely based on the size of the system and soil conditions. Price also vary from region to region, from company to company, and from property to property. For accurate pricing, it’s a good idea to get several quotes from septic companies in your area.
Annual maintenance costs for mound septic systems can be about $500. You’ll need to have the septic tank cleaned by a professional more often than you would with a conventional tank, and the electric pump will need periodic replacement.
Cost of Conventional Septic Systems
Conventional systems are far less expensive, ranging from about $3,000 to $15,000. In the Midwest, you might pay $5,000 or less, for example. But on the East or West coasts, you could pay upwards of $10,000.
Inspections cost anywhere from $200 to $600, and they’re typically required once every three years. Periodic pumping of the tank costs about $200 to $400.
Choosing a Contractor
When you’re investing thousands of dollars into a septic system, it’s important to choose the right contractor. You don’t want to hire the first person you come across in a Google search. Here are some tips for making your selection:
- Seek quotes from multiple local contractors to compare prices, but don’t choose on price alone. It’s always a good idea to throw out any bids that come in unusually high or low. You don’t want to break the bank, but you also don’t want to go with a company that cuts corners.
- Look into the background of any company you’re considering. Find out how long the company has been in business. Ask for references. Check the company’s track record with the Better Business Bureau and read online reviews. Give the online reviews some consideration, but take them with a grain of salt. One or two bad ones could be chalked up to a rare mishap or a disgruntled ex-employee.
- Make sure any company you choose is licensed and insured. A company that is not licensed is operating illegally. And if you hire one without insurance, you could be liable for any accidents that occur on the property.
- Meet with the contractor in person before signing a contract. Ask plenty of questions. When will the project start and be finished? Will the company clean up the site on a daily basis?