Things Home Buyers Should Know Before Buying A House With A Septic System
You're getting ready to buy a new home, and you've just discovered that it has a septic system. If you've never owned a home with a septic tank, this might feel a bit daunting, but don't worry — you don't have to know anything about wastewater treatment. Taking care of a septic tank is a hands-off process, but there are some essentials you should understand before you buy your new home.
How Septic Tanks Work
Septic systems consist of four components:
A pipe from your home
A septic tank
A drain field
Here's how it works: Wastewater leaves your home and travels to the tank through the pipe. The tank is a buried, watertight container that allows the solid waste to sink to the bottom, while liquid exits through an outlet to the drainfield. Once in the drainfield, the wastewater moves through the soil which removes bacteria and viruses.
A Note About Alternative Septic Systems
Before buying the home, make sure you understand what type of septic system it has. If it has an alternative system, learn about its unique maintenance requirements.
Alternative septic systems tend to pop up in areas where there are already too many septic tanks or the soil isn't suitable for a traditional septic system. Instead of soil, these systems use sand, plastic, wetlands, lagoons, or other options to treat the wastewater. They often contain float switches, pumps, or other mechanical components that might need special maintenance.
Inspection and Maintenance Essentials
Most septic systems need to be inspected every three years. Alternative systems with mechanical parts should be inspected every year. Make sure that you have a recent inspection report before buying the home. When you have the system inspected, the technician will look for issues and they'll let you know when you should get the tank pumped.
You must pump your tank before the layer of solids reaches the outlet on the tank. Most homeowners only need to schedule pumping every three to five years, but the exact schedule depends on the size of your tank, the number of people in your home, and the amount of water you use.
To protect your septic tank, be careful about what you put down the drain. First, keep in mind that all the water that leaves your home goes through the septic tank, not just toilet water. That means every time you take a shower, wash clothes, or run the dishwasher, you put gray water into the septic tank. Consider investing in energy-efficient appliances and faucets to minimize the impact on your system.
Second, note that your septic system uses natural biological processes to treat your wastewater. Harsh chemicals, oils, pesticides, paint, and similar products can disrupt the natural function of your system and get into the groundwater. Additionally, fat and oil add to the sludge layer in the tank, which may force you to pump the tank more frequently.
Finally, pay close attention to the drain field. Before finalizing your real estate contract, find out exactly where the drain field is. It should be marked on the "as-built" drawing for your home. You can't build or park cars in this area. You also need to be careful about planting trees nearby, as their roots can damage the pipes and tank.
Owning a septic tank is pretty straightforward, but you have to treat it gently and make sure that you keep up with maintenance. Even when funds are tight, prioritize inspections and pumping. If your tank gets damaged, you'll have to replace it to the tune of thousands of dollars. However, with the right maintenance, you can expect your tank to last 20 to 40 years.
AUTHOR BIO: Brady Alexander is the founder of S&B Septic and Sewer. He started the company with a goal in mind to provide the best around-the-clock service in North Texas. With over 20 years of experience, he prides himself on efficiency, effectiveness, and, most importantly, honesty.
If you are looking for a home in Columbus please contact us! We are here to help your home-buying process go as smoothly as possible. We are experts in Columbus real estate and can help you find a Columbus home you will love. We want to make sure you know everything about your new home and are well-represented in negotiations to get you into a home you love and can afford.