When you’re purchasing a new home, the last thing on your mind is how your waste will be processed. However, this is a very important consideration – as homes with septic systems need to be treated differently than homes connected to wastewater facilities. Asking the right questions is extremely important as a prospective buyer. A septic system is a very natural way to process waste and when combined with a functional well is much more cost effective than city water and sewer. Here are a few tips for homebuyers considering homes with septic systems.
Get an idea of what you’re working with.
Septic systems process waste more efficiently and use less energy than central wastewater facilities – it’s a fact. This means that having a septic system shouldn’t be looked at as a bad thing – it just means that you have to explore the status of the system. Understanding how the system has been maintained and is structured is the best course for uncovering issues.
Ask for detailed purchase and maintenance records.
You’ll want to make sure that you have a really good sense for the history of the septic system in your prospective new home. This means understanding what type of tank it is (a receipt for installation is always good), how it was installed, the age of the system and how it was maintained over the years. Septic systems should be pumped and inspected every 3 to 5 years. If you notice that homeowners regularly waited longer in between pumpouts – you’ll want to be sure to have an inspection performed to see what kind of shape the tank and drainfield are in. An expert contractor can look for signs of neglect.
Ask more questions.
You’ll need to be sure that you ask either the homeowner or the septic contractor performing the inspection what the load is like for the existing system. This will give you an idea of how activities like laundry, dishes and showers should be planned to make sure that you don’t overload your system. If being conscious of water use or cleaning activities in your home is an issue for you – you may want to consider a home without a septic system.
Knowing the details of a home you’re expecting to purchase is more than getting a home inspection. As a buyer its your job to use the time before closing to do your diligence and research the history of the home and any potential issues that might arise. This article about homebuyers that were completely unaware of their septic system is a good cautionary tale. If you’re looking at homes, you don’t need to be worry about purchasing a home with a septic system – just be sure to ask the right questions and have an inspection performed to ensure that you know exactly what to expect with the septic system.