Buying a Home with a Septic Tank

You recently fell in love with a home and want to put in an offer, but it has a septic tank. While septic tanks are fairly common in the United States, they do require a bit of know-how so that you can keep them properly maintained. If you’ve never had a septic tank before, then it can be a little intimidating. Fortunately, septic tank maintenance is not terribly costly or labor-intensive, but you should know more about them before jumping in. Here’s what you should consider if you’re buying a home with a septic tank.

What is a septic system?

Understanding how a septic system works will help you keep it in good working order in your new home. A septic tank is an underground system that collects wastewater from your showers, tubs, sinks, washing machine, and toilets. It drains down through pipes and into your septic tank. Solid waste settles at the bottom and forms a layer of sludge. Lighter waste creates a scum on top while liquid waste, known as effluent, settles in between them. This effluent drains into a leach field that consists of gravel or soil which filters out the harmful bacteria.

What are the benefits of a septic system?

There are many perks of having a septic system for your home. These include:

  • No utility bill – If your home is hooked up to the municipal sewer system, then the costs of your sewer service are included in your utility bill. With a septic system, you avoid that cost.
  • Longevity – Septic tanks last up to 40 years, on average, as long as you keep them properly maintained. Regular maintenance includes getting an inspection every three years, using water efficiently, properly disposing of your waste, and maintaining your leach field.
  • Emergencies are contained – When your conventional sewer backs up, you’re getting your neighbor’s sewage in your home, too. When you have a septic tank, it’s only your own. Conversely, your sewage does not encroach on your neighbor’s property, either.

What else should homeowners know about septic tanks?

If you’re considering buying a home with a septic tank, then it’s important to know that routine maintenance will keep your tank in working order and prevent most problems. Regular maintenance will keep sewage from backing up into your home. But be aware that all maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner. The government is not responsible for your septic system since you are not connected to a city line.

Should you get a septic tank inspection?

Homebuyers should think about getting a septic tank inspection before buying a home. This can be part of your home inspection process. Depending on where you live, your state or municipality may require your lender to perform a septic tank inspection before the title will be transferred. Septic tank inspections will evaluate sludge levels in the tank, where the leach field is located, if the tank is the appropriate size for the home, the tank’s overall condition, how well it connects to pipes, and whether or not drain lines are getting equal amounts of water.

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