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Top 5 Septic Tank Questions Answered (2023)

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Picture of Norwesco Low Profile Plastic Septic Tanks stacked on top of each other.

Today we attempt to answer the top questions regarding septic tanks. Some questions will be Canadian specific, but much of the information below can be applied to any septic tank around the word.

In this article

What is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is a large underground tank that is used to treat and dispose of household wastewater. It is typically installed in areas that do not have access to a centralized sewage system.

The tank is connected to the household plumbing and receives all of the wastewater from the house, including water from sinks, toilets, showers, and washing machines. Inside the tank, the wastewater undergoes natural treatment processes, such as sedimentation and anaerobic digestion, which break down the solid waste and reduce the level of harmful bacteria.

The treated liquid then flows out of the tank and into a drainage field where it is further treated and eventually released into the ground.

How Does a Septic Tank Work?

A septic tank is an interesting system that helps take care of all the dirty water from your house.

It's like a big underground container that sits in your yard and does a lot of the work to clean the water before it goes back into the earth.

Here's how it works: the dirty water from your sinks, toilets, shower, and washing machine flows into the septic tank through a pipe. Inside the tank, the water gets separated into three layers: solids, liquids, and scum. The solids sink to the bottom, the oils and grease float to the top and the middle part is liquid that flows out of the tank and into a drainage field.

In the drainage field, the water gets cleaned even more as it seeps through the soil and gets treated by bacteria and other microorganisms. The solids that settle in the bottom of the tank are broken down by the bacteria over time.

It's important to remember that the septic tank needs regular check-ups and cleaning, and to not overload it by using too much water or flushing things that aren't biodegradable. With a little love and care, a septic tank can last for several decades.

What are the Different Types of Septic Tanks?

There are several different types of septic tanks, including:

  1. Concrete septic tank: This is the most traditional type of septic tank and is made of poured concrete. They are strong and durable, but also heavy and difficult to transport.

  2. Fiberglass septic tank: These tanks are made of fiberglass, making them lightweight and easy to transport. They are also resistant to corrosion and can be made in different shapes and sizes.

  3. Plastic septic tank: These tanks are made of plastic, making them lightweight and easy to transport. They are also resistant to corrosion and can be made in different shapes and sizes. They are less expensive than concrete or fiberglass tanks.

  4. Steel septic tank: These tanks are made of steel, making them strong and durable. They are also resistant to corrosion, but can be more expensive than plastic or fiberglass tanks.

  5. Aerobic septic tank: These are septic tanks that use oxygen to break down the waste in the tank. They are more efficient than traditional septic tanks, but also more expensive and require more maintenance.

  6. Prefabricated septic tank: These tanks are pre-made and assembled at the site. They are quick and easy to install, but they come in limited sizes.

It's important to note that the most appropriate type of septic tank for your property will depend on factors such as your local regulations, the size of your property, and the size of your household. It's best to consult with a local septic professional to determine the best option for your specific needs.

How Long do Plastic Septic Tanks Last?

Plastic septic tanks can last for several decades with proper maintenance.

However, the exact lifespan will depend on factors such as the quality of the plastic used, the conditions in which the tank is installed and maintained, and the amount of use the tank receives.

It's typical for a plastic septic tank to last between 20-30 years.

How much does it cost to have a septic system inspected?

The cost of a septic system inspection in Canada will vary depending on the location and the type of inspection required.

On average, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 for a basic septic system inspection.

Some factors that can influence the cost of an inspection include the size of the septic system, the age and condition of the system, the inspector's experience and qualifications, and the specific requirements of your local government or municipality.

It's best to contact a local septic inspector in your area for an accurate estimate of the cost of an inspection.

It's worth noting that in some Canadian provinces it's mandatory to have a septic system inspected before selling a property and in that case, the cost of the inspection is usually included in the closing costs.


As a recap, its important to understand there are a wide variety of septic tanks available, and which one you choose will ultimately come down to preference & budget.

Whichever style you choose will require maintenance, so understanding regulations & policies in your state/city is incredibly important. Contracting out a septic tank professional is the best and safest way to go when choosing a septic tank. They will be able to outline legal requirements & costs over time of each style of tank.

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