6 Questions You Need To Ask During A Septic System Inspection
Buying a house is a dream come true for many, but there are several important things to consider.
When buying a home with a septic system, there are questions you should ask the seller specifically about the septic system. If you’re looking for the best time to sell your house, you’ll discover that it’s a good idea to have a septic inspection before selling.
Septic inspections are crucial for the health of the occupants of the home, so homeowners need to schedule the inspections regularly. Armed with the right information about the septic system in the home, you can make a proper decision about the value of the house or have an estimate of future maintenance costs you may have to incur.
Here is a list of the most important questions to ask when you’re looking to buy or sell a home with a septic system.
1. What Is A Septic System?
If you’ve never owned one before, a septic system is found in areas that are not served by municipal utilities including rural or older developments. According to the EPA, some type of septic system serves more than one in every five households in the U.S.
A septic system is an eco-friendly, low-maintenance, and affordable way to receive, treat, and dispose of the waste from your house.
In working condition, pipes take the wastewater from your home and into an underground tank where solids and other wastes separate from the water. A natural filtration process eventually puts it back into the groundwater.
2. How Often Should You Get A Septic Inspection?
Most experts recommend homeowners carry out a septic tank inspection at least once every five years. If six or more people live in the house, then inspections should land every two or three years.
Against the opinion of experts, many homeowners wait longer than the recommended five years or take action only when they smell trouble. At that point, inspectors will often advise you to repair or replace your septic system, which can be costly.
Installing a new septic system can cost $6,000 to $12,000. Factors such as placement of the system and the terrain of the property can further raise the cost to $25,000.
You can save money by avoiding major repairs with regular inspection and pumping. Pumping the septic tank will enhance the home’s value and avoid any liability issues that might result from a malfunctioning system.
3. What Does A Septic Inspection Involve?
There are two types of septic inspections – visual inspection and full inspection.
a). Visual Inspection
When buying or selling a house, the home inspector will carry out a visual inspection. The process involves asking a few questions, a walk around the yard to check for cesspools, and flushing a toilet or two to determine the water pressure. Visual inspections are limited and unlikely to detect major problems.
b). Full Inspection
As the name suggests, a full inspection is important in detecting all possible problems in a septic system before repairs become costly. A full inspection process includes inspecting the entire system from the tank to the distribution box and drain field.
A good inspector will be looking for low or high tank levels, any cracks in the tank, and any excess water in the yard around where the tank is located. The inspector will also use a tool to measure the amount of sludge, in the bottom of the tank and make sure each pipe is taking on an equal amount of liquid.
4. How Much Does A Septic Inspection Cost?
According to Thumbtack a full inspection for a 1,000 to 1,500-gallon tank can cost anywhere between $200 and $600. The amount is negligible compared with the cost of replacing a drain field which can cost anywhere between $2,500 and $10,000.
Regardless, the costs may vary based on the individual or company doing the inspection. Texas homeowners don't need a license or certification order to inspect septic tanks. Though this may reduce some of the cost, it has the potential of getting someone who does a sub-standard inspection.
5. How Long Do Septic Systems Last?
The life expectancy of a septic system can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years — or indefinitely in rare cases. Regular inspections and repairs will see a concrete septic tank last longer than a lifetime.
The longevity of a septic system will depend on different factors including risk of damage from clogging by roots, flooding from groundwater, the number of people that use the system, household products in use, traffic of vehicles, and soil quality.
6. When Should You Repair Or Replace Your Septic System?
Though most septic systems last several decades, below are the most common signs indicative of system replacement that you can identify.
· Puddles or swampy patches in the yard that appear overnight are a common warning sign it's time to replace the septic system.
· Upgrade the system to handle the added demands of increased household size or if you’re buying a home with a smaller than recommended tank.
· Repeated repairs are a sign of a failing system that will need to be replaced soon.
· Check the septic system for leaks if contaminants such as bacteria and/or nitrates are present in water quality tests for wells and other potable water sources.
How To Maintain Your Septic System
Professionals must handle the periodic pumping of a septic tank to remove the accumulated sludge and scum. How often you will need to pump the tank will depend on the size of the tank and the amount of wastewater the household generates.
· Regular inspection and maintenance of the septic system
· Securely close your septic tank lids
· Pump your septic tank as needed
· Direct water from land and roof drains from the drain field
· Put household chemicals down the drain
· Use the garbage disposal
· Flash tampons, paper towels, baby wipes, or any foreign object that cannot break down
· Park vehicles on your drain field, septic tank, or reserve area
When you're considering buying a home, ask your real estate agent to include a home inspection and a septic tank inspection in your buy/sell agreement. Without an inspection, you may have to deal with costly bills due to a faulty or neglected septic system. Remember to be cautious about how you dispose of your wastes.