If you live in a rural area without a sewer system, you have more options than you may think. There are several types of underground sewage disposal systems for homes that are not connected to town sewer systems. Along with a septic tank, a holding tank installation could be the answer. These are allowed in certain areas where building a leach field (or tile field) is not possible.
A septic tank is the most common type of underground sewage and waste-water system for any home where the typical municipal system does not reach. They dispose of a filter waste, separating the solids from the liquids. The solids are eventually dissolved or broken down by bacteria and then are passed out of the tank along with the waster water. This provides a reasonable amount of reliability. A holding tank only provides containment of the solids. It is only a sealed tank designed to resist leaks.
A septic tank provides several benefits. It does not require power to run a septic tank. Secondly, it is considered a safe way to handle waste when municipal waste treatment is not available. Thirdly, the septic tank allows solid waste to break down into waste water so it leaves the system as a liquid. A holding tank provides no separation of solids, but it is the only alternative for areas where septic tanks can not be used.
Septic tanks do not release solid waste into the ground. Instead the waste is broken down naturally through bacterial action. The septic tank is not an option everywhere a municipal waste treatment system is not available. In the same way, holding tanks are not an alternative option in every area where a septic tank is not allowed. They must be allowed by state code. Holding tanks are not the same thing as septic tanks either. They do not include any of the baffle systems that block solid waste from exiting the tank.
Only use a holding tank if you do not want to install a septic tank or your yard does not have the proper "tile field" for a septic tank installation. In general, the septic system is the more efficient and "maintenance free" choice. However, general maintenance like pumping is required of a septic tank.
A holding tank requires pumping every time it becomes full. This involves monitoring the tank level and contracting a professional sewer and waste professional to remove the waste. Depending on the size of your tank and your family's use of water, this may need to be conducted every week. It could cost around $100 per month or more depending on your area and contractor. Holding tanks also present additional problems. Some communities do not allow them because there is a potential for leaks. There is also the possibility that the homeowner will not be able to pay for the contractor to pump them out.