Septic to Sewer Conversion – What’s Involved?

Converting your home from a septic system to a municipal sewer system is theoretically a very straightforward process. A contractor, with an “A” license, digs up the waste pipe between the house and septic tank, intercepts and re-routes to the sewer main taking the path of least resistance.

In reality it can be a bit more complicated. An established home might have patios, swimming pool, retaining walls, mature trees and/or vegetation, sidewalks, and driveways that must be traversed to get from the tank to main line.

The cost of converting depends on distance, depth, and obstructions in the path. During a typical conversion your house is only out of wastewater service for approximately 2 hours during the entire process. An average house can easily be converted in 3-5 days.

Once the final connection is made the septic tank must then be pumped dry. A hole is bored thru the bottom of the tank, the top is crushed into the tank which is then filled to grade with dirt.

Advantages of Sewer vs. Septic

  • Increases a home’s value. New buyers often use this as leverage against a seller when a house is on septic but sewer is available. “I’ll pay your asking price but I want you to convert to sewer before close of escrow.”
  • Gravity is maintenance free. Septic requires periodic attention.
  • Sewer systems are odor free. Septic often smells depending on prevailing winds, saturation, etc.
  • Cities ARE NOT septic friendly and often will not permit repairs to septic system when sewer is available.
  • Cities WILL NOT permit pools, room additions, or remodeling when on septic if sewer is available.
    Some of the reasons for this are:
    • Pollution of mother earth
    • Pollution of water tables (there are still some homes on well water)
    • Problems/disputes between neighbors arising from septic systems
    • Saturation during wet winters with rising water tables
    • Subsidence (homes sliding down the hill in California)
  • Revenue!!! Sewer capacity fees to connect are substantial and monthly sewer fees generate big revenues.