Buying a house with a septic system

Sometimes when prospective homeowners see that a house has a septic system, they get a little nervous. These are homes that aren’t serviced by a municipal sewer and have a standalone system that will take care of their wastewater situation.

Today, we’re going to jump into what you can expect when you purchase a home with a septic tank and why you shouldn’t be nervous. Let’s jump right in!

How common are septic systems?

Believe it or not – septic tanks are pretty common in the US. It’s estimated that about 20% of homes have one that’s exclusively dedicated to one property or set up to service multiple homes. And yes – they’re located just as frequently in urban settings as they are in rural homes.

Does it have any relation to the drinking water system?

Absolutely not! Some homes with tanks have private wells, but the septic system is entirely different from your well. It’s purpose is not to treat wastewater so it’s drinkable – but rather so it can be dispersed in a way that will prevent contamination and pollution.

Are there differences from one kind of septic system to another?

There are a few differences – but the most common one is almost always the size of the tank. The size of the tank usually depends on the size of the need in your home of building. The one thing you’ll just have to aware of is that you’ll need to make sure that you’re being careful about the kinds of things you put in the toilet or down the drain. Some people get haphazard with things like coffee grounds, kitty litter, pain, chemicals and dental floss. You can’t do that with a septic tank. A little extra attention needs to be paid to what you’re putting down the drain, but other than that, you’ll notice almost no other significant difference between a tank and a sewer system.

How often does it need to be emptied?

Every once and a while you’ll need to get your septic tank pumped. The frequency depends heavily on the size of your tank and how much wastewater your family generates. Most tanks (not all) – need to be pumped once every three to five years. Some however, may need more – like around once a year.

What kind of maintenance are we talking about?

Believe it or not – not a whole lot. That being said – you should get it inspected at least once a year just to make sure there’s no clogs or leaks sneaking up on you. Be on the lookout for things like foul odors coming from your drain or gurgling fixtures. That could be a signal that something is off.

What should I do before I buy a home with a septic tank?

Ask for an inspection right off the bat. This will let you know what kind of condition the tank is in and in some cases – your lender will require you to have the information. Take the time to learn about things like the proper distancing from a well, make sure there aren’t invasive roots or really anything else that might sneak up on you.

At the end of the day – owning a home with a septic tank isn’t a scary thing – it just requires you to be a little bit more aware of what you’re doing and being prepared to pay for things like ongoing maintenance. All in all, a good home is a good home and septic tanks can make it even better! Good luck!