Yearly Cost of Well Water & Septic System


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Old 08-05-13, 08:20 PM
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Yearly Cost of Well Water & Septic System

I've lived in the city all my life, but now looking to move into more rural areas, and many of the places have well water & septic system.

I know virtually nothing about the costs & problems associated with these things. I only know that if things go wrong, it can be a big expense.

Assuming there is no "major work" needed, what are the regular requirements and costs of well/septic, such as inspections, testing, cleaning, etc?

Where I'm going with is this: If Home A is well/septic with $3,000/yr taxes, and Home B is public sewer/water with $3,500/yr, would the annual cost of Home A's well & septic drive my yearly cost higher than Home B?

Of course, if it's messed up from the start, that's a whole different ball game
Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 08-05-13, 08:36 PM
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would the annual cost of Home A's well & septic drive my yearly cost higher than Home B?
I thought I had a good answer for that but I'm not so sure. Essentially you're paying 500.00 more a year for sewer and water.

A sewage field can run upwards of 20k. if it fails. A well could cost 1500-2000 to repair if you lost the pump.

If it were me I would certainly opt for the city water and sewage.

Let's see how others feel.
 
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Old 08-05-13, 09:10 PM
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3 k for taxes on well and septic??? 3.5 k for taxes with city water/sewer?

Water and sewer here in my town runs $180 a quarter roughly... Thats in summer with watering and such. So add $800 or so to your bills for the year... Possibly more... But find the rates...

Im on well and septic... Septic cost me $180 every 4 years to have it pumped..

( Its best that you find out the condition and age of the septic thoroughly... If its past its life expectancy ask for that off the price of the home to replace....)

Water is the cost of electric to run the pump... Per gallon its way cheaper then what the city would charge for water per gallon... I think here its like .50 cents per 100 gallons....So like 2.00 a day if you use 400 gallons...


But we are expensive here in NJ...


I would always choose well/septic over city service any day...
 
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Old 08-06-13, 04:42 AM
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In the last 10 years, I have had both and in over 50 year-old houses. The steady bill coming in every month for garbage, water and sewer is a real drag, but a bigger drag is when the 30-year old drain field needs replacing.

In my mind, it is not so much the ordinary cost, but the huge cost of replacing a well or septic system if something goes wrong -- and unlike a wind storm, for example -- there is no insurance help for water and sewer failures.

So, you better have some emergency money set aside just for this.

What with how things are now, nobody's income is rock solid anymore. Life can turn into a sad country/western song in a hurry.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 05:21 AM
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In regard to a septic system, as mentioned, you will have a cost of something in the neighborhood of a couple hundred every 3-5 years to have it pumped. The cost of a drainfield can vary a lot, depending on soil conditions, proximity to wet lands, etc., and I seriously doubt that there is any realistic average on the life of a field, for these same reasons. In regard to a well, also mentioned was the fact that it is just the cost of electricity to run the pump. Then there is the quality of the water, and its' impact on the plumbing system. Some water comes out of the ground ready to go, but a lot of it needs some manner or treatment, whether filtering, softening, etc., and, in some locations, condition is such that this can get a little costly. Or you can let it go, as is, which in turn can significantly shorten the life of water heaters, faucets, etc. Overall, it's not a lot different than other aspects of rural life, in that you make your own decisions regarding how much you put into something, so can perhaps rein more control on monthly costs, but you also need to be prepared to handle capital costs, such as a new well or drainfield, on your own.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 05:42 AM
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I'm not sure how it is in other areas, but here, city vs. well/septic adds up very quickly. Keep in mind, this may or may not be the same or similar locally.

2yrs ago I moved from a larger city to a small town.
In the city, domestic water and sewer was billed as a utility (can't remember how much a month, but I'm sure it was over $100 a month for the 950sqft house). Taxes where a bit higher there (not related to the water).
In the small town now, I'm on city sewer, but well water (I know, kind of odd). The sewer is included in my taxes, but is not a line item so I can't say how much it cost. Property taxes are less here for the 2860sqft house.
For the well, the regular costs are electricity (pennies per day), whole house filters and salt for the softener (may not be required for you). Salt cost me ~$5 a 20kg bag and filters are ~$10 for 3.
If I had to guess, it costs me ~$8 (salt and filter) every 2-3 months. The fequency of filters was about a month prior to installing a manual backwash spin down filter.
I should note, we now are a family of 5. In town, we had just grown to 4.

Regular maintenance....
Keep in mind, I'm only experienced with the well, not the septic system.
For testing, check with your local health unit. Here, we have free bacteria testing through the health unit, and (surprise to me) free mineral/hardless testing through the town. I've been doing the bacteria tests every ~3 months or so.
Filters should be changed ~3 months or less depending on pressure/volume drop. I'm a need to know kind of guy, so I'm running gauges before and after every filtering stage.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 07:13 AM
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There really ought to be an owner's manual that comes with houses that have wells and septic systems. There is a lot to learn if you come from the city.

It would have diagrams and details of where everything is and how deep they are.

Plus tips. Here is an example of things that could be in it:
Best thing to do is to ban bleach from the house. Pine oil is a disinfectant that doesn't kill septic systems.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 07:25 AM
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There really ought to be an owner's manual that comes with houses that have wells and septic systems. There is a lot to learn if you come from the city.

It would have diagrams and details of where everything is and how deep they are.
I totally agree.
Although I see the previous owners of my home in town regularly, they really knew very little about the well or any of the systems. Kind of scary considering they lived there for ~5yrs.
Been doing a lot of discovery.
It's a very steep learning curve. I spent the first 9+ months in my home learning about boilers and wells. A nicely packaged book with all the documentation, age of equipment, etc would have been really helpful.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 11:23 AM
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Thanks, guys, you've really shed a lot of light on the subject. It seems like with regular operating costs, well & septic may be cheaper, but in the long run, when something breaks, the needle will really swing to the other side.

I think the deciding factor was Vey (first name not "Oy", I hope) with the comment about the owner's manual. Never in a million years would I have even known bleach would damage the system, and just that comment right there convinced me to just stick with public water & sewer. It sounds like that type of life is meant for people who grew up knowing the rules.
 
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Old 08-08-13, 10:04 AM
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If it's any consolation, most businesses want to be on city sewer.

I told that to a nearby city commissioner once at a cocktail party and she didn't know why. Around here, a sprawling area, her city was considering expanding sewer to parts of the city that were only on city water. There were objections to expansion. It's expensive, but when dealing with businesses that want to relocate, the expenses are negotiable.

The reason that businesses want city sewer is because, no matter how many times they are told, the employees will pour something down the drain they shouldn't, like grease or bleach and the expense to fix that (plus fines) is much more than a monthly bill. All it takes is one dope and it can cost thousands and in one case that I know of, tens of thousands.

I asked to her to look around the city and note where the businesses congregated and which areas were shunned even though the zoning was the same. She voted to expand.
 
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Old 08-08-13, 10:21 AM
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If it's any consolation, most businesses want to be on city sewer.

I told that to a nearby city commissioner once at a cocktail party and she didn't know why. Around here, a sprawling area, her city was considering expanding sewer to parts of the city that were only on city water. There were objections to expansion. It's expensive, but when dealing with businesses that want to relocate, the expenses are negotiable.

The reason that businesses want city sewer is because, no matter how many times they are told, the employees will pour something down the drain they shouldn't, like grease or bleach and the expense to fix that (plus fines) is much more than a monthly bill. All it takes is one dope and it can cost thousands.

I asked to her to look around the city and note where the businesses congregated and which areas were shunned even though the zoning was the same. She voted to expand.
Even before looking at what employees dump down the drain, sizing and maintaining an appropriate fieldbed/septic system could be huge up front costs. Most areas require the septic system to be sized based on the sqft of the building. This would be huge costs for wearhouses, specially if all their waste water consists of a kitchen and bathroom(s).
 
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Old 08-08-13, 11:13 AM
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There are "owners manuals" available online, from both Pennsylvania DEP and US EPA.

Your standard Pa. Assn. of Realtors agreement of sale has a paragraph just on on-lot system inspections, repairs etc.

If there is a problem with an on-lot system, septic sytems, or sandmoud, drip irrigation or stream discharge (on lot systems) are generally available in Pa.

The obvious difference - large upfront cost for on-lot repairs versus small constant payment for sewers, can be addressed with a home warranty, or with a rider to your homeowners insurance.

Some of the issues to consider are to be aware of what you can't fix -
for example, if your home is in a designated "sewer expansion area" you may end up having to hookup, no matter whether your septic works or not.

As your soil drainage gets worse, you may need to go with a more expansive systems - septic drain field, sand mound, spray irrigation, stream discharge.
 
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Old 08-09-13, 10:12 AM
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Then there is the quality of the water, and its' impact on the plumbing system. Some water comes out of the ground ready to go, but a lot of it needs some manner or treatment, whether filtering, softening, etc., and, in some locations, condition is such that this can get a little costly. Or you can let it go, as is, which in turn can significantly shorten the life of water heaters, faucets, etc.

I think what you say is very important. I bought my first (and current) well/septic type house about 11 years ago. Seems to me understanding the complexity of conditioning the water is no simple task making it difficult for the DIYíer. Iím going through the process now of adjusting an Acid Neutralizer tank I installed myself with the hopes that I donít need a softener. But Iím not sure. Trial and error could get very expensive, but as you say you can be forced into conditioning the water.

Not like where I grew up (Philly), you turn on the tap and itís always there and always conditioned although the chlorine made it taste terrible, spit spit pooey! lol
 
 

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