Buying a home with a septic system

If you are a home buyer looking at homes that have a septic system do not fail to have the system tested and do not buy a home with a cess pool. When looking a homes try to locate the septic tank. Most homes with a septic tank also are served by well water so try to locate the well too. Your real estate agent should help you while you are at the house. If you can't locate the septic tank (there should be a lid) it may be buried (common). Have your agent ask the seller where the septic field is. This is important for planning things like gardens, locating a future shed or drive. You can't place a shed over or drive over the septic field. Septic testing is an additional inspection and will cost as much as a basic home inspection.

After purchase the system will require periodic maintenance

If the ground gets too wet your septic system may backup. Spring time is generally a wet period but any period of extended heavy rain can cause the same problem. The septic water could rise to the top of the ground and when this happens. a marginally working septic system will have trouble operating correctly. This could also occur when water usage in your home is high. Preplanning can help.

  • Don't connect a garbage disposal to the system - food waste will fill the tank and won’t break down properly.
  • Don't do all your laundry once if you are doing several loads.
  • Don't use laundry powders in your wash or dishwasher --they contain fillers that plug systems. Use of liquid detergent instead will help.
  • Don't flush (even flushable) diapers, tampons or cigarettes down the toilet. They will fill the system.
  • Don't park on or drive over the leaching field. The weight could damage the pipes.
  • Don't pour grease down drains. It will plug the holes in the tubes in the leach field.
  • Don't use commercial products claiming to help clear your system. They may contain chemicals similar to lye that could severely damage the soil in your leaching bed.
  • What Happens if a Septic System is Not Cleaned?

    If you do not properly maintain your septic system, it will break down. Repair is expensive. You may realize something is wrong when you begin to smell it - either inside or outside your home. You may notice seepage around the field or tank. Plan to have your system pumped and checked about every 3 years by a reputable contractor.

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