There are many things to consider when buying a home with a septic tank. There’s a potential cost savings because you’re not connected to your local municipality's sewer systems. But maintenance of septic systems is still required. In fact, failure to do so can lead to a very costly bill.
It’s critical that you have a septic system inspection performed before purchasing the home.
Not only will this protect buyers from potentially being responsible for a septic system that needs significant repairs, but some loan processors also have additional requirements if a septic tank is present.
However, septic tank inspections are not a part of your typical home inspection. Home inspectors are not required to look at the septic tank during a home inspection. In fact, we are even limited by what we can inspect regarding the septic system.
Here at EDC, the bare minimum isn’t good enough. Our expert home inspectors will determine as much as they can about the home’s septic system and offer suggestions on what you need to know before finalizing any sale.
When you have a home with a septic system, your household wastewater is stored in an underground tank instead of flushing out to the local sewer system. A lot is happening inside of that tank to ensure the waste is processed and can be safely dealt with.
Most septic systems consist of a septic tank and a drain field.
The process begins when water runs out of your house and into the septic tank. This includes any waste or other items flushed or allowed to go down the drains in the home. The wastewater is held in the septic tank, allowing the solids to settle at the bottom of the tank and the oil and grease to float to the top. This is known as sludge and scum, respectively.
The liquid water then exits the tank and is released from the system through the drain field, where it is filtered and absorbed by the soil.
Typically, the septic system is outside of the scope of your standard home inspection, and certain rules and regulations prevent home inspectors from being able to do too much.
However, if you are purchasing a home with a septic system, there are some elements that we at EDC will be happy to look at for you.
One of the first things we’ll be able to do is to help locate the septic tank and the lid. This is valuable information for the homeowner to have. Finding where the tank and lid are located can be challenging, and even septic tank professionals can have trouble finding them on property they aren’t familiar with.
EDC inspectors will also look at the surrounding areas and see if anything poses a danger to the system. Trees or other items too close to the tank or drain field can infiltrate and damage the septic system.
Unfortunately, home inspectors are not allowed to lift the septic tank's lid to see inside. While we will do our best to examine the system and offer guidance based on what we see, in order to get a complete understanding of the system, you will need to have a septic inspection performed by a licensed professional.
Luckily, maintaining your septic system is relatively easy. One of the main things you want to do is control what gets flushed or disposed of down the drain.
Since everything ultimately ends up in the septic tank, flushing the wrong items can damage your system. Don’t flush any hygiene products, as even biodegradable products don’t break down fast enough. Don’t let any cooking oils, heavy bleach, or solids go down your drain.
Make sure to pump out your septic tank every 3-5 years. The filter cartridge, if the system has one, needs to be flushed annually. And decide whether you want to use septic additives or not. Some believe the septic additives offer little to no benefit and are a waste of money, but we’ve never heard of any issues caused by using them as directed.
At EDC, we understand that knowledge is power. We also don’t believe in only doing the minimum amount of what’s required from us. We put in the extra effort so that home buyers have a complete understanding of the house in question so that they can make an informed decision over whether or not to follow through with their purchase.
Even newly constructed homes might have issues lurking underneath the surface. Always make sure to have a thorough inspection done, even if the house and property appear to be in pristine condition.
If you have questions about what we can or cannot do for a septic tank during a home inspection, give us a call. We’re here to help give you the knowledge you need and can schedule your next inspection today.