Buyer's Guide Septic Inspections
Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, or this is your first experience with a septic system, this guide is here to help. Septic systems can be very costly when it comes to repairs so making sure that it is in good working order before purchasing a home is a step you don't want to miss.
If you are relying on a mortgage company to purchase a home, they may require you to have the septic system inspected before agreeing to loan you money. Some basic home inspections will include a very basic look at the septic system, so hiring a septic professional for an independent inspection is a good idea and may be necessary.
Septic System Defined
Areas that do not have access to public sewage systems will have septic systems for wastewater treatment and disposal. Septic systems are usually necessary for rural areas or the outskirts of urban and suburban areas.
The type of septic system is determined by the part of the country you live in, the soil type, the slope of your property, how close to bodies of water you live by, and your lot size are some of the main factors that determine the type of septic system you have.
How Does a Septic System Work?
Water runs from your home to the main drainage pipe into a septic tank. The septic tank is a water-tight container that is buried, and its job is to hold the wastewater long enough for solids; otherwise known as sludge to settle on the bottom. Any fats, oil, and grease will float on the top, appropriately named scum. The liquid wastewater will exit the tank and spread evenly throughout the drain field and back into the soil.
This process can vary slightly, depending on the type of septic system you have, but this is the basic gist of how septic works.
What Inspectors Look For?
During a septic inspection, there are several things that the inspector will look for but, giving them to give them some important information can make their assessment even more accurate. The helpful information you can provide the inspector is the age of the system, how many people are in the household, and the date the tank was last pumped; this will give them an idea of how full the tank may be.
The septic tank needs to remain watertight, so the inspector will check the lids at ground level to ensure they are secure and that there are no cracks in them. Water leaking into the septic tank can cause the tank to overfill possibly causing wastewater to leak.
The drain field will also be looked at to ensure that trees, streams, or wells are not located near the drain field. The lateral lines can be at risk of being damaged by tree roots or other landscaping that is trying to seek out a water source.
Some inspections may include a sewer scope inspection to determine the amount of sludge in the tank. The tank will need to be pumped if it accounts for more than 33% of the volume of the tank.
Pro Tip: It is important to keep a record of all inspections, maintenance, and dates of when the septic tank was pumped.
How Often Inspections Should Occur
To keep up with your septic system and avoid costly repairs, it is suggested to have your septic system at least every 3 - 4 years. Having your septic system routinely inspected, potential issues can be caught before they become a much bigger problem.
Cost of Inspection
Depending on where you live, inspections can run from $350 to $650; however, for a proper inspection to be completed, the tank has to be pumped. The cost to have your septic tank pumped is usually included with the cost of the inspection.
The Wrap Up
Septic tanks generally last around 15 years, the life of your septic system will last longer if you keep up with routine maintenance and repairs. The cost for inspections and minor repairs will likely cost you far less than if the system breaks.