Recognize Signs Of A Potential Problem You need to know how to spot a potential problem before it becomes a real one. Things like unusual odors, odd plumbing signs, slow drainage and backflow into your drains are all signs you need your septic tank inspected.
- A general rule of thumb is: If you use less than 500 gallons a day, you’ll need a 900-gallon septic tank. If you use less than 700 gallons a day, you’ll need a 1200-gallon septic tank.
Where is septic tank necessary?
Septic tanks are often used in rural areas, campgrounds, and picnic areas in place of sewer systems to treat human waste and separate solids and liquids in wastewater. The liquid portion of the waste is disposed of through a drain field where natural filtering takes place in the soil.
Why would some people need to use septic tanks?
Septic tanks eliminate waste by using the natural filtering process of the soil. Bacteria is filtered by the soil once the wastewater is out of the septic tank, which makes the water safe to re-use. The use of septic tanks allows for local water tables to be naturally replenished.
Is septic tank better than sewer?
Although septic systems require a bit more maintenance and attention, they have a number of advantages over sewer lines. Since they don’t pump wastewater long distances to be processed at a water treatment facility, they use less energy overall and have a smaller environmental impact.
How do I know if my house has a septic tank?
A surefire way to confirm whether or not your home has a septic system is to check your property records. It is likely that the building permit and blueprints for your home and property will contain information about the presence (or lack) of a septic tank.
Are septic tanks still legal?
Septic Tanks Explained… Septic tanks cannot discharge to surface water drains, rivers, canals, ditches, streams or any other type of waterway. you are required to upgrade or replace your septic tank treatment system to a full sewage treatment plant by 2020, or when you sell a property, if it’s prior to this date.
Can anyone have a septic tank?
The short answer is yes. You will need planning permission from a local authority in order to have a septic tank installed, no matter if it’s at your own home or on a business site.
What is the alternative to a septic tank?
Mound systems work well as alternatives to septic tanks when the soil around your home or building is too dense or too shallow or when the water table is too high. Although they are more expensive and require more maintenance than conventional systems, mound systems are a common alternative.
What are the disadvantages of a septic tank?
- Maintenance costs $300-$600 every few years (which can still be cheaper than municipal sewer).
- It can cause groundwater contamination if the system leaks.
- If not maintained, you can have a costly mess on your hands.
- Septic tanks will eventually need to be replaced.
Can heavy rain affect septic tank?
It is common to have a septic back up after or even during a heavy rain. Significant rainfall can quickly flood the ground around the soil absorption area (drainfield) leaving it saturated, making it impossible for water to flow out of your septic system.
How long do septic tanks last?
A septic system’s lifespan should be anywhere from 15 to 40 years. How long the system lasts depends on a number of factors, including construction material, soil acidity, water table, maintenance practices, and several others.
Can I sell my house with a septic tank?
If you currently have a septic tank that discharges to surface water then the sale will trigger the requirement to replace or upgrade the system. Buyers should satisfy themselves that any system is in good working order and does not cause pollution.
How much does it cost to pump a septic tank?
How much does it cost to pump out a septic tank? The average cost is $300, but can run up to $500, depending on your location. The tank should be pumped out every three to five years.
How do you find a septic tank in an old house?
Look for the 4-inch sewer that exits the crawl space or basement, and locate the same spot outside the home. Septic tanks are usually located between ten to 25 feet away from the home. Insert a thin metal probe into the ground every few feet, until you strike polyethylene, fiberglass or flat concrete.
What’s the difference between septic and sewer?
The main difference between a septic system and a sewer system is, a septic system treats your wastewater on site. Usually, it’s placed underground on the land your house is built on. Sewer systems take the wastewater away from your home and route it underground to a treatment plant typically operated by the city.
What are the 3 types of septic systems?
Types of Septic Systems
- Septic Tank.
- Conventional System.
- Chamber System.
- Drip Distribution System.
- Aerobic Treatment Unit.
- Mound Systems.
- Recirculating Sand Filter System.
- Evapotranspiration System.
Buying a Home With a Septic Tank? What You Need to Know
Published in February of this year A septic tank is one of those home features that can make prospective buyers feel uneasy. A septic tank is a component of a home’s wastewater system that is often found in homes that are not served by municipal sewers. Instead, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, these stand-alone systems are meant to dispose of and treat the wastewater generated by a residence on their own (EPA). For anyone contemplating purchasing a property with a septic system, here are some often asked questions and answers to consider:
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How Does a Septic System Work?
A pipe gathers all of the wastewater from the residence and transports it to an underground septic tank that is completely waterproof. As explained by the Environmental Protection Agency, solids settle to the bottom of the pond while floatable items (known as “scum”) float to the top. Both are confined within the tank, which is emptied on a regular basis by a professional pumper. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the middle layer includes liquid wastewater (also known as “effluent”) that exits the tank into a buried drainfield in the yard, where the wastewater disperses into the soil.
Is the Septic System Related to the Drinking Water System?
No. Many homes that have septic systems also have a private well to provide water. The septic system, on the other hand, is completely separate from the well. Rather of treating wastewater so that it may be consumed, its objective is to safely distribute it in a manner that prevents pollution.
What Differentiates One Septic System from Another?
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the size of the drainfield and the quality of the soil are the primary factors that distinguish one septic system from another. In addition, the drainfield must be large enough to accommodate the volume of liquid generated by a family. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, do not use a home’s toilet, sink, or disposal as a wastebasket for dental floss, coffee grinds, kitty litter, paint, or chemicals to avoid the chance of blocking the system.
How Often Should You Get Your Septic Tank Emptied?
To remove the sludge and scum from the septic tank, it is necessary to hire a professional to pump it. The frequency is decided by the size of the tank and the degree of activity in the home (how much wastewater is generated). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most septic tanks should be emptied every three to five years. However, certain systems may require more frequent pumping – perhaps once a year if necessary.
What Are the Signs of a Failing Septic Tank?
Aside from routine pumping, the tank should be examined for leaks or obstructions on a regular basis.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, signs of a clogged system include foul odors that appear from time to time and fixtures that drain slowly or gurgle.
What About Maintenance Costs?
The size of the tank and drainfield, the accessibility of the tank, and the distance that waste must be taken for disposal all influence the cost of septic system upkeep. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pumping a tank might cost between $250 and $500.
What Should I Do Before Buying a Home With a Septic System?
Learn about the laws in your state. Some states demand a septic system examination prior to transferring ownership. However, even if your state does not need an inspection, your lender may require one anyhow. As a rule, conventional house inspections do not involve an examination of the septic system. Zillow reports that an inspection may provide a detailed assessment of the system’s integrity, identify whether it is located at an appropriate distance from a well (to minimize contamination), and check the absence of invasive tree roots in the drainfield, which could cause damage to the system.
If you do need to replace your system, the cost might vary significantly.
Owning a property with a septic tank does not have to be a frightening experience.
Understand the laws of your state. It may be necessary to get your septic system checked before transferring title. However, even if your state does not need an inspection, your lender may require one nonetheless. (Conventional house inspections do not normally include a septic system check.) It is possible to learn about the system’s current state, assess if it is located at an appropriate distance from a well (in order to avoid contamination), and confirm the absence of invasive tree roots in the drainfield, which might cause harm to the system.
If you do need to replace a system, the cost might vary greatly.
Septic tank ownership doesn’t have to be a frightening prospect.
The pros of buying a house with a septic tank
Residents that live within the town borders pay a monthly utility rate to cover sewage expenditures, which is a cost-effective solution. With a septic tank, you won’t have to worry about this kind of price. A septic system is self-maintaining, and with appropriate care, it may survive for decades. Lifestyle choices such as saving water, using bleach only when absolutely necessary, and being cautious about what goes down the drains not only maintain your septic system, but they also help to protect the environment.
If you have a municipal system, a backup can introduce germs from the entire community into your tubs, sinks, and toilets, depending on where the backup occurs and the severity of the backlog.
If a leak were to occur, it would only have an impact on the surrounding property. Damage to the municipal system is more severe if the leak happens in a public water system.
The cons of buying a house with a septic tank
Maintenance is required: Septic systems must be checked by a qualified specialist on a regular basis. Every three to five years, the solid waste should be pumped out and the tank should be examined for deterioration. Prices for the service range from $200 and $400, depending on your geographic area. It is your obligation to make repairs: If a municipal sewer line bursts or backs up on your property, it is the government’s responsibility to repair the problem and restore service. However, if your septic system becomes clogged or a pipe bursts, you will be responsible for the repair costs.
Drainage field that has failed: Only the quality of the drain field will determine how successful the septic system will be.
Get a septic tank inspection before buying a house
If you’re thinking about buying a house that has a septic tank, make sure to have the septic system inspected as part of your home inspection. A septic inspection can provide you with piece of mind and will help you avoid any costly hassles once you have moved home. Septic system inspections are performed in accordance with the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and comprise the following steps:
- The date of the most recent inspection to evaluate whether or not it has been properly maintained
- The amount of sludge present in the tank
- The location of the drain field should not be near a well or any other body of water, since this might cause flooding. Confirmation that the system is large enough to serve the residence that it is intended for
- The presence of liquid waste on the surface of the earth
- There are no fractures or leaks in the tank or lid. The input and output pipes are securely attached to the baffles. Drain lines receive the same quantity of water from each other.
More septic system FAQs
What is the average lifespan of a septic system? A septic system, if properly managed, should survive for several decades. The frequency with which you should pump your septic tank is up to you. Every three to five years, you should have your septic system tested and the tank drained out. Consult with your local health authorities to find out what they recommend for your particular location of the country. What can I put in my septic tank to make it work better? The hope is that just your greywater and blackwater will enter your septic system.
- Is it necessary for them to dig up my lawn in order to pump my septic tank?
- In spite of the fact that this will only be a tiny portion of your yard and not the complete thing, Is it necessary for my septic system to use chemicals such as Rid-X?
- A well managed system has all of the components necessary to break down materials and sustain a healthy septic flora.
- The usage of chemicals in your septic tank is only recommended after this point, according to specialists.
- Is it permissible to grow anything over my drain field?
- The root systems of trees and bushes have the potential to cause harm to subsurface pipelines.
In addition, polluted vegetable gardens might result from the drainage system. Native plants may be used to landscape over and around a septic drain field, which is a suitable use of the available area in this case.
What to know when buying a house with a septic tank
As a homeowner with a septic system, it is your obligation to keep it in good working order and to ensure that it is operating at peak performance. A well maintained septic system protects both the environment and the home, which is why it is recommended that homeowners examine and pump their tanks on a regular basis. When properly maintained, and as long as the septic tank was constructed according to specifications, it should last for decades without failing. Some key considerations to consider when purchasing a home with a septic tank are summarized in the following section.
Know how the septic system works
A standard septic system is comprised of four components: the pipes leading from the home, the septic tank, the drain field, and the soil around the system. It is microbes in the soil and the septic tank that help to dissolve organic waste as well as to purify the water before it reaches the groundwater table. The piping’s primary duty is to transport wastewater from your home to the septic tank for treatment. Although concrete is the most often used material for septic tanks, other materials such as fiberglass and steel can also be utilized.
Tanks with risers are easier to identify, check, and pump than older tanks since they are easier to see.
It is possible that the drain field may flood if there is an excessive amount of water in it, and sewage may be visible on the ground surface, or that backups will occur in the septic tank and in the home.
Does the home use a conventional or an advanced system?
You can bet your bottom dollar that when you buy a house that comes equipped with a septic tank, it will be outfitted with a traditional septic system. Conventional systems treat wastewater using a mix of physical and biological processes, with the wastewater being treated in both the septic tank and the drain field as part of the treatment process. However, there are some instances in which a traditional system may not be possible to deploy for a variety of reasons. For example, if there is a lack of available area, it may not be possible to determine the recommended distance between the leach field and the drinking water well.
In this case, modern septic systems come into play.
Because these systems contain complex components, they may necessitate more attention and maintenance than their more traditional equivalents in the future.
It’s possible that you’ll have to replace some equipment as well.
In addition, you should inspect the pump for air bubbles. As you can expect, there will be an extra charge associated with this. The ability to determine if the property has a conventional or an advanced septic system will assist you in understanding what will be expected of you as a new homeowner.
Does the home use a cesspool?
A cesspool is a hole sunk into the earth for the purpose of storing wastewater from a home or business. The walls of this pit are normally constructed of concrete or bricks, and they are perforated to allow for the percolation of wastewater into the soil under the surface. In most cases, cesspools offer little to no treatment of wastewater, but relying instead on the ground surrounding them to treat the water as it seeps through. Because cesspools are not designed to handle wastewater, the government forbade their installation in any home built after 1970 on the grounds that they were a health hazard.
If you are purchasing an older home, it is critical to determine if the home is equipped with a cesspit or a septic system.
How to save money on maintenance after buying a house with a septic tank
As a homeowner who owns a home with a septic tank, you must do periodic maintenance on the system because, if you do not, the system will fail and have major repercussions on the surrounding environment. As a septic system owner, you should be aware of several crucial guidelines that can help you save money.
Do not skip scheduled pumping
Depending on where you live, you may be forced to pump your septic tank once every 2-5 years by the local government. If you fail to follow the pumping schedule, the tank may become overflowing and begin to back up. This type of failure is not only nasty, but it also ends up costing you extra money.
Watch the products you use
As a septic system owner, you must exercise extreme caution while selecting items for your system. The majority of commercial cleaning solutions that are used in homes are composed of chemicals that are extremely harmful to bacteria. Therefore, the efficacy of your septic system will be reduced as a result of using these types of items.
Regular inspections will assist you in staying on top of things at all times. It is preferable, like with most other systems, to identify problem areas and correct them before it is too late.
Repair any damages
As soon as you spot any damage, get it repaired as quickly as possible. When there are cracks or any other defects that are not corrected, the problem will worsen with time, eventually rendering the system inoperable. In addition to the environmental risks associated with a neglected system, an ineffective septic system will significantly reduce the value of your home.
Use biological additives
The septic tank relies on bacteria in the tank to liquefy organic waste, which is done by the bacteria in the tank. However, as a result of the dangerous items that most homeowners inadvertently flush down the toilet, the quantity of bacteria in the drain decreases significantly over time. Biological additions can assist in reversing this trend. For example, Bio-biological Sol’s additives enrich septic tanks by introducing billions of bacteria and enzymes into the system.
Ask for records of maintenance
A smart suggestion is to keep track of the maintenance performed on your septic tank on an ongoing basis. A comprehensive record should include all pertinent information and dates, such as the history of pumping operations, the inspection record, the location of the drain field, and any other concerns that the property owner may have encountered.
This record will assist you in determining where to pick up your system as a new owner, and it will also provide you with an indication of the overall health of the system you are purchasing.
Carry out an independent inspection
You shouldn’t take the seller’s word for it — the only way to be totally certain about the condition of the septic system is to have it inspected by a third party. Do not make a purchase commitment for a home that contains a septic tank unless a trained inspector has inspected the system and given it a clean report. The majority of homeowners make the mistake of merely examining their system once, right after it is installed, and then never bother to do so again after that. This is why you must insist on having a qualified professional inspect the system.
The inspection report may even be required by some institutions before they would accept a mortgage application.
- Determine the location of the septic tank and drain field
- Uncover the manhole and any additional inspection apertures that may be present. In order to guarantee that wastewater from the home flows out as planned, flushing the toilet and opening sinks are recommended. The tank and drain field area are being inspected. Obtaining measurements of the scum and sludge layers
In addition, utilizing bio-low-cost sol’s tracer dye tablets, you may check on the overall health of the system. You may just flush the pills down the toilet, and if there is a problem with your septic system, you will see an unusually bright green hue surrounding the leach field after 2 days. This process, albeit basic in appearance, has been shown to be the most successful in terms of determining the overall health of the septic system. The truth is that this is the test that inspectors use to figure out whether or not the septic system has failed.
Demand a septic system examination before you make a decision on whether or not to purchase a home.
It is possible that you could wind up acquiring a house that has a broken septic system, and you will be compelled to replace the entire system if you neglect this step.
What can make your septic system to fail?
The last thing you want to find in your new home is a septic system that has failed. Knowing what causes a septic system failure is essential in order to avoid this situation. You will then be able to determine what you need to do in order to avoid this failure. The following are some of the most common reasons for a septic system to fail.
Using an antibacterial soap in the shower or washing paint rollers in the sink are examples of what is meant by this phrase. To get a more in-depth list of all the goods you should avoid using in your new home, download our free eBook.
The septic system was not intended to handle a large amount of water at one time. This is due to the fact that if the tank receives an excessive amount of water, it will force some of the water out of the tank to create way for the incoming water. It is possible that the wastewater that exits the septic tank as a result of hydraulic overflow has not been effectively treated, which might result in difficulties.
As a result, avoid flooding your bathtub with water and space out your washing rather than doing large loads of laundry at the same time as possible.
When it comes to homes with septic systems, garbage disposal should be avoided at all costs. The use of these products will only result in clogged systems as a result of the excessive amount of organic and inorganic waste that is introduced into the system. Using a trash disposal is a certain method to create a significant amount of scum and sludge in a short period of time.
It is quite easy for a septic tank to fail if it is not properly constructed or installed. Some of the soils will be outstanding at wastewater treatment, but others will be less effective at it. The design that will be employed on a site must thus be determined after conducting soil analysis and a percolation test on the land. When choosing the size of the septic tank and the drain field, the number of bedrooms in the home must be taken into consideration.
Putting too much strain on the septic tank might result in the pipes collapsing and the tank breaking open. As a result of these damages, the effluent will escape into the environment in its unprocessed state, resulting in environmental degradation. As a result, you should avoid driving or moving large machines and things, as well as constructing over the septic tank, if possible. CAUTION: Never wipe off paint with water from the faucet! After you have finished painting the home, make sure to dispose of any remaining paint and brushes in a hazardous waste facility that is close by.
Renovating a house with a septic tank
If you want to perform any repairs after purchasing a home with a septic tank, you should be aware that some of these modifications may necessitate the modification of the septic system as part of the process. For example, the size of a septic tank is decided by the number of bedrooms in a building. If you are considering adding an additional bedroom to your home, you may be compelled by law to construct a larger septic tank if the one you already have on the site is not sufficient to handle the additional demand.
|Number of bedrooms||Minimum number of tanks (in gallons)|
Also worth mentioning is the importance of exercising extreme caution when building on the land in order to prevent causing damage to the septic system in any manner. As a starting point, driving earthmovers or any other heavy gear over the septic tank is not suggested since it might cause structural damage to the septic tank. Additionally, paint and other solvents that may have been used during the repairs should not have been allowed to enter the septic tank since they can cause the septic system to malfunction.
Does the home have a private well?
Private wells are installed in the majority of residences that have a septic system. As a result, it is critical that you test the well to check that the water has not been contaminated by the septic system before proceeding. Before acquiring a home with a private well, contact your local health authority, which should be able to provide you with a free or low-cost test to determine the water quality. You may also wish to test the water for other foreign things such as metals and chemicals, just to be on the safe side.
Additionally, as the new homeowner, it will be your obligation to keep the well in good condition and to guarantee that it is not contaminated by your system.
Beyond keeping you and your family safe from disease-causing microorganisms, keeping track of your annual testing might be useful if you ever need to sue someone who polluted your well and seek compensation.
Purchasing a new house is a significant choice and a significant commitment from which you are unlikely to want to back out in the near future. As a result, it is one of those judgments that should not be made hastily. Take the time to check the septic system on the property so that you don’t have any unpleasant surprises when you move in. The condition of the septic tank should be considered one of the most important considerations in determining the price of your new home. Along with inspecting to confirm that the septic tank is in proper functioning order, you should also test the water to ensure that the well has not been contaminated by the septic system.
Your knowledge of how the septic system operates, as well as your familiarity with its maintenance procedures, will be required for this position.
Should You Avoid a House With a Septic System?
Real estate has traditionally been the preferred investment for people seeking to accumulate long-term wealth for their families and future generations. By subscribing to our complete real estate investment guide, you will receive assistance in navigating this asset class. Whenever you have solid waste in your house, the solution is straightforward: throw it in the trash or compost it. But what about garbage that is liquid in nature? Everyone’s house generates a certain amount of wastewater, and when it comes to disposing of it, there are typically two options: a public sewage line or an on-site septic system.
Even if you’re buying a property with well water, you should consider installing a septic system to keep the water clean.
Or is it a decision you’re more likely than not going to come to regret, whether you’re buying a home for yourself or as an investment in the future?
What is a septic system?
Sewage systems remove wastewater from your house and channel it via a sewer line to be treated at a treatment center. The water is then treated at that facility to remove impurities and make it safe to drink, after which it is returned to the local water system that serves your house and neighborhood. According to the design of a traditional septic system, all of the wastewater that must be removed from your home is routed down a drainage pipe and into an underground septic tank. Septic tanks may be composed of several materials including concrete, fiberglass, and other composite materials.
Solids are allowed to settle to the bottom and form a scum layer.
From there, wastewater is dumped through pipelines into the surrounding soil, where it might filter through.
When you have a sewage system, you will often have a large number of residences that all feed into the same system. When it comes to sewerage systems, on the other hand, each residence is often equipped with its own septic installation.
Types of septic systems
In the event that you are unfamiliar with septic tank installation, you can select from a number of various options:
- An example of a traditional septic system is the one mentioned above, which is comprised of a septic tank and drain field. A chamber system is a fantastic option if you live in a wet climate with inadequate drainage. A chamber system is characterized by a succession of pipelines and chambers that are surrounded by dirt. Microbes in that soil treat wastewater before it is discharged into the environment. The maintenance of chamber systems may be more extensive than that of traditional sewage treatment systems. An aerobic system introduces oxygen into the septic tank, which aids in the addition of nutrients to the water, which is beneficial as the tank begins to empty. Again, the amount of maintenance required here may be more than that required by a traditional system. A drip distribution system, as opposed to a conventional drain field, involves the placement of pipes in shallow ground soil to transport treated water away. This reduces the need for substantial digging, which is necessary when constructing a drain field. Drip distribution systems, on the other hand, might be more expensive to construct and may need additional maintenance. A sand filter system is simply a huge box packed with sand that water passes through before being filtered out by the system. Sand systems, like chamber systems, are useful in regions where the water level is naturally high and drainage is inadequate
- However, the maintenance required can be more extensive than with chamber systems.
Benefits of a septic system
When you own a septic system, you are responsible for keeping it in good working order. Aside from the financial implications, this might be a positive development because it implies you can avoid difficulties by keeping up with your maintenance. With a municipal sewer system, a sewer pipe can leak or back up, and if the problem is not fixed immediately, you might find yourself with a severe problem on your hands, even if you were not the one who caused the problem. Furthermore, there is usually a price associated with utilizing a public sewer system; often, you will be charged a monthly or quarterly fee.
Moreover, when building a new home from the ground up, it is generally less expensive to install a septic system than it is to pay to have sewer lines installed – this is especially true when your home is located in an area where setting up a sewer connection would necessitate a significant amount of infrastructure investment.
The way septic tanks discharge water into the surrounding soil can encourage plant development, which is beneficial to the environment.
Septic systems have an average life expectancy of 25 to 30 years provided they are properly maintained and serviced.
Drawbacks of a septic system
A septic system, on the other hand, has various drawbacks and costs that you may have to bear in mind while installing one. Aside from the fact that septic systems need to be maintained, You’ll need to pump out your septic tank every three years (or more frequently if necessary) to keep sludge accumulation from becoming too large. The exact timing will be determined on the size of your tank. In addition, you should have your septic system inspected once or twice a year to verify that it is in proper operating condition.
For the most part, this implies that you’re restricted to flushing just human waste and toilet paper into the toilet.
- Items such as paper towels that are thick and absorbent, feminine products, cooking oil or grease, baby wipes, and household chemicals
A septic system also means that you won’t be able to install a garbage disposal under your kitchen sink, because even though that disposal will grind up items to prevent clogged pipes, you don’t want to take the chance that those items will make their way into your septic system and cause an unhealthy buildup. Additionally, when you have a septic system, there are additional landscaping issues to take into mind. In particular, you must avoid planting trees exactly next to your septic system’s drain field; otherwise, the roots of the trees might grow into the drain field and cause the system to cease functioning correctly.
The bottom line on septic systems
A septic system often provides you with the ability to purchase property that has greater acreage and to reap the benefits that come along with that decision. If you’re looking to buy a home as an investment, the presence of additional land might be a significant selling feature. Be careful you understand the type and frequency of maintenance that will be required to keep your septic system up and running. The last thing you want is to find yourself with a pricey situation on your hands that is difficult to resolve.
How Your Septic System Works
Underground wastewater treatment facilities, known as septic systems, are often employed in rural regions where there are no centralized sewage lines. They clean wastewater from residential plumbing, such as that produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry, by combining natural processes with well-established technology. A conventional septic system is comprised of two components: a septic tank and a drainfield, often known as a soil absorption field. It is the septic tank’s job to decompose organic matter and to remove floatable stuff (such as oils and grease) and solids from wastewater.
Alternate treatment systems rely on pumps or gravity to assist septic tank effluent in trickling through a variety of media such as sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants such as pathogens that cause disease, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants.
Specifically, this is how a typical conventional septic system works:
- All of the water that leaves your home drains down a single main drainage pipe and into a septic tank. An underground, water-tight container, often composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, serves as a septic system’s holding tank. Its function is to retain wastewater for a long enough period of time to allow particles to sink to the bottom and form sludge, while oil and grease float to the surface and produce scum. Sludge and scum are prevented from exiting the tank and moving into the drainfield region by compartments and a T-shaped outlet. After that, the liquid wastewater (effluent) exits the tank and flows into the drainfield. The drainfield is a shallow, covered hole dug in unsaturated soil that serves as a drainage system. Porous surfaces are used to release pretreated wastewater because they allow the wastewater to pass through the soil and into the groundwater. In the process of percolating through the soil, wastewater is accepted, treated, and dispersed by the soil, finally discharging into groundwater. Finally, if the drainfield becomes overburdened with too much liquid, it can flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or resulting in toilet backups and sink backups. Finally, wastewater percolates into the soil, where it is naturally removed of harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. Coliform bacteria are a kind of bacteria that may be found in the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals, with humans being the most common host. As a result of human fecal contamination, it is a sign of this.
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority has built an animated, interactive model of how a residential septic system works, which you can view here.
Do you have a septic system?
It’s possible that you’re already aware that you have a septic system. If you are not sure, here are some tell-tale symptoms that you most likely are:
- You make use of well water. In your home, the water pipe that brings water into the house does not have a meter. In the case of a water bill or a property tax bill, you will see “$0.00 Sewer Amount Charged.” It is possible that your neighbors have a septic system
How to find your septic system
You can locate your septic system once you have confirmed that you have one by following these steps:
- Taking a look at the “as constructed” drawing of your house
- Making a visual inspection of your yard for lids and manhole covers
- Getting in touch with a septic system service provider for assistance in locating it
Failure symptoms: Mind the signs!
A bad odor is not necessarily the first indicator of a septic system that is failing to work properly. Any of the following signs should prompt you to seek expert assistance:
- Water backing up into the drains of homes and businesses
- It is especially noticeable in dry weather that the drainfield grass is bright green and spongy. The presence of standing water or muddy soil near your septic system or in your basement
- A strong stench emanating from the area surrounding the septic tank and drainfield
Buying Vacant Land: Will You Need a Septic System?
Have you discovered the ideal plot of land on which to construct your dream home? Great! Although you may be satisfied to use an outhouse, you should investigate if a sewer system is already in place on the land, or whether you will be required to establish a sewer system. The response will have an impact on not just your overall plans for the property, but also on your building timetable and budget, among other things.
Is the Property Served by a Sewer?
A great plot of land on which to build your dream house has been discovered. Great! Although you may be satisfied to use an outhouse, you should investigate if a sewer system is already in place on the property, or whether you will be required to construct a sewer system yourself.
The response will have an impact on not just your overall plans for the property, but also on your building timetable and budget, among other factors.
Costs of Connecting to and Using an Existing Sewer System
If the property is served by a sewage system, the process is quite straightforward. As a landowner, your primary responsibility is to establish the link between the new residence and the main system of distribution. If you wish to build your own septic system or alternative wastewater treatment system, you will very certainly be denied permission to do so. An competent general contractor or plumber should be able to provide you with an estimate of the time and money that will be required. Typically, the cost is less than the cost of constructing a standard septic system, which is a significant savings (and much less than to construct an alternative septic system, described further below).
Once you’ve been connected, your service provider will charge you a quarterly sewer use fee, which will most likely be added to your monthly water bill.
Depending on whether or not a sewer system is available, municipal rules may require you to pay sewer connection costs before you can be awarded a building permit.
If the Property Isn’t Served by a Sewer: Regulations on Septic Systems
If you are required to establish a septic system (since there is no sewer system available on the property), this will take more time and money than just connecting to a sewage system. The construction and maintenance of septic systems are governed by state and municipal legislation in nearly every jurisdiction since failed septic systems are a major source of water contamination (as a result of germs invading adjacent water supplies). Before you can establish a septic system, you must first verify that you are in compliance with all applicable regulations.
A site evaluation is typically necessary prior to the issuance of a septic permit.
A professional site evaluator or engineering company may do them for you, or the local health agency can do it for you.
What the Site Evaluation Will Tell You
It will be determined by the findings of the site evaluation whether you will be able to construct a conventional (gravity-fed) septic system or whether an alternative system will be necessary. Alternative septic systems are basically modified versions of conventional septic systems that are particularly designed to operate with the soils and terrain present on a particular site. Alternative septic systems are also known as bioretention systems. As a consequence of the site evaluation, if the results indicate that your property is inappropriate for a traditional septic system, an engineer or an expert in septic design will need to develop an alternate system.
It is possible that alternative systems will be many times more expensive than a traditional system. This is in addition to the expense of engaging a professional to do or evaluate a site evaluation as well as create the septic design for your system.
Make Sure You Have Enough Room Left for the Home
Septic rules also dictate where a septic system may be placed on a property and how large the system can be. It is required that septic systems be placed back a specific amount of distance from wells and other sources of water as well as from roads, driveways, buildings, and other structures as well as from property borders. These limitations might have a significant influence on where you can build your house. You must guarantee that there will be enough space to put the septic system in a good place, as well as a well (if necessary), and that there will be enough space to build the size of home you wish in an acceptable location when all of this is completed.
Protecting Your Interests Within the Purchase Contract
A site evaluation may have a significant influence on how much money a property is worth, thus it is smart to condition the acquisition of any unoccupied land without sewage connection on having an approved site report. Having the option to negotiate the purchase price or even cancel the contract if the findings of the site evaluation are unsatisfactory will be important to your success. The inclusion of such a contingency in your purchase contract should be made possible by the assistance of an expert real estate attorney.
Should You Buy a House with a Septic Tank? Septic Tank 101 (updated:February 2022)
Is it a problem that my house has a septic tank? If you grew up in a house that was connected to the city sewer system, a home with a septic tank and septic system will appear a little strange at first. However, as you get used to it, you’ll be able to tell the difference. However, it is not the end of the world if you understand a few basic concepts first. Especially in remote locations where there isn’t the infrastructure for a comprehensive water treatment system, this is a fairly prevalent situation.
What is a septic tank?
A septic tank is a wastewater treatment system for your home. It is a tank composed of concrete, polyethylene (hard plastic), or fiberglass that collects all of the liquids and trash generated by a family’s activities. It doesn’t matter what goes down the drain (kitchen sinks, toilets, bathtubs, washing machines), it all goes through your tank. The liquid is then periodically removed from the concrete septic tank, either through a pump in the house (which removes only liquid) or through a septic truck (which removes both liquid and waste).
How do I know if I have a septic tank?
Aseptic tanks and cesspools are the most likely options if you don’t have a sewage line hookup in your home or business. The capacity of this tank may range from 750 to 1315 gallons. The distinction between cesspools and septic tank systems is important to understand since cesspools are often older and will have more issues to address when purchasing a home with a cesspool.
What is the purpose of a septic tank?
Septic tanks, similar to acesspooldoes, are designed to collect all of the liquid waste and matter generated by a house when a sewer connection is not accessible to the home. The septic tank keeps the material until it is drained out by a septic truck or until the greywater is pumped out to a septic field or drain field, depending on how it was constructed.
This is a region where the greywater from the home is returned to the water table for an extended length of time, usually many months.
How does a septic tank work?
The following is an explanation of how a septic tank works. The septic tank is the final destination of everything that goes down the drain in your home. In the same way that waste from a sewage system would end up in a septic tank, any liquids or solids that flow through your washing machine, dishwasher, toilet, bath, shower, or trash disposal end up in your septic tank. The water that flows down your drain pipes passes via your septic tank and drainage field. The difference between this and a septic tank system is that they all end up in the same tank ultimately and don’t go anyplace until much later in the system’s lifespan.
Seepage is the term used to describe the combination of the three factors mentioned above.
While the sludge settles and scum builds on the surface of the liquid, the liquid is transferred to a secondary compartment.
What are the contents of a septic tank?
Wastewater, sludge, and scum are the three types of materials that go into the tank. The sewage from the home is channeled into the tank, where the solids settle to the bottom and the scum rises to the surface; this scum seems just as you would expect it to. it appears to be scum. Septic tank effluent is the liquid wastewater contained within the middle compartment, which eventually drains into a second compartment and finally onto your leach field after passing through your leach field filter (drainage field, or septic field, depending on where you live).
More information about septic tank pumping may be found here.
Septic Tank Diagram
This diagram will provide you with a better understanding of how a normal septic system operates.
How much does a septic tank cost?
The cost of installing a typical septic tank will vary depending on the size of the tank. Tank and system prices normally vary between $4,000 and $10,000, although prices can climb significantly depending on the circumstances.
What about solid waste?
During their stay in the tank, the solids decompose, but over time, they accumulate and accumulate further. As the tank fills up, you will need to call a septic truck to come out and pump out the tank, which will cost you money. This can be every week for some homes who do not have a way to dispose of their wastewater into a drain field, once a year for others, or even every three to four years depending on usage, circumstance, and the size of the tank.
Can you flush toilet paper in a septic tank?
If you have a flush toilet, you may flush toilet paper down into the tank.
But that’s all there is to it. When you have a tank toilet, you cannot flush paper towels, dental floss, disposable diapers, cat litter, feminine products, or any other non-biodegradable items down the toilet since they will not decompose and will block the pipe, causing a clog.
Do you need to use special toilet paper for a septic tank?
It is preferable to use toilet paper that is safe for septic systems. Although it is intended to be flushed, the variety of other items that people flush down the toilet can cause the tank to get clogged as a result. Too much toilet paper flushed at once can cause a clog in any toilet, requiring you to unclog it.
What does a septic tank mean for my budget?
If you have a tank, you’ll need to budget for the cost of having it pumped out. Finding a septic service is a very simple process. It’s probable that your neighbors have one, and there may even be a sticker on the tank, or you may look for a septic tank cleaning service in your area on the internet. When your septic tank becomes overflowing, you will be required to pay for a pumping and cleaning service. Pumping costs will vary based on the size of your tank and the frequency with which it is pumped from a financial standpoint.
Every year, we have it pumped.
Make certain to inquire about this before submitting an offer on the property.
What affects the cost of pumping a septic tank?
There are a variety of factors that might influence the pumping out of your septic tank.
- There are two factors to consider: the location of your home and whether or not the truck must travel a considerable distance to get there and dispose of the garbage
- And any additional fees that are levied as a result of these factors. The tank’s position on the property is also a source of contention. Do you know if it’s easily accessible, or if there are any barriers in the way that need to be cleared away, such as trees, dirt, or other large things
- Is it possible to remove the lid simply, and is there a riser in place? It is possible that you will be charged for the time it takes to remove the lid if you do not do so. If the tank’s lid does not protrude from the ground, or if the tank’s access point has been completely buried by the earth, it may be necessary to dig the tank and install a riser system. This will result in the payment of an excavation fee based on either a flat or an hourly cost determined by your chosen commercial septic firm and the resources required
- Is it simple to locate the tank? If you’ve lived in the area for a long time, you’re definitely familiar with the location of your tank. For new homeowners, it is possible that they will not be aware of the location of the tank on their acre of property and that the septic tank business will require a significant amount of time to identify it. By doing a little research, asking around, and checking municipal records, it is possible to avoid being charged.
What is a leaching field?
An underground leaching field, also known as a septic field or a drain field, is a field where the greywater from the tank is pumped out and eventually flows back into the water table. Leaching fields make things easier and less expensive since the tank disperses rather than contains effluent, enabling the tank to be used for longer periods of time between cleanings and reducing maintenance costs. Due to the presence of a leaching field in your system, you are able to efficiently eliminate grey water from your system, reducing the frequency with which you must call a septic specialist to come and pump your tank.
Because we had more than an acre of property, we were able to meet the demands of the surrounding community.
Aerobic Septic System
Aerobic septic systems are a type of system that refers to a system that treats waste using aerobic processes. Essentially, these water treatment systems function as a miniature sewage treatment plant, except that they employ an aerobic process to break down sewage rather than an anaerobic process, such as the sort that is used in typical septic systems.
How is an aerobic septic system different from a normal septic system?
Aeration systems make advantage of the aerobic treatment of sewage in the tank to break down the particles present in the wastewater, so providing further processing to the wastewater (effluent). Similar to a conventional tank, aerobic bacteria in the effluent break down biological waste, and the residual particles fall to the bottom of the tank, just as in a conventional tank. This is the sludge that has to be removed from the tank on a regular basis when it fills up. The cleaning or disinfection of the wastewater is the next stage of the aerobic process, in which chlorine is employed to disinfect the water and produce an output that is termed antiseptic.
These chemicals are used to disinfect the effluent after it has been subjected to this treatment.
There are a variety of local rules that may need to be adhered to, so be sure to check first.
This means that, in some cases, the area of a drainage field might be reduced by a factor of two. Do you require a detergent that is appropriate for use in a septic tank? Read our Nellie’s Laundry Soda Review (it’s septic safe!) for more information.
Septic System Maintenance Plan
Consult with a septic tank cleaning professional to devise a preventative maintenance plan for your system. All tanks and houses are unique in their own way. One of the most important things you can do is to consult with your cleaning specialist and establish a maintenance routine. This should be created in order to ensure that your tank continues to function effectively and that the lifespan of your septic leach field is extended. Failure of the leach field due to improper tank maintenance will result in greater expenditures in the future.
Another suggestion is to use toilet paper that is safe for septic systems.
Septic Tank Camouflage
In the grand scheme of things, having a gigantic circle perched atop your lawn is a little unsightly. You are constantly reminded of where your sewage is located, and it is an eyesore in your yard and yardscape. You’re trapped with it, just like you’re stuck with that rear projection TV in your basement. So, what are your options? If your septic tank cover is protruding from the ground and you want to conceal that bulky piece of plastic in your yard, a faux rock cover is the perfect solution.
In most cases, these types of rocks are very evident to be made of plastic, but the ones from Dekorra are truly remarkable.
Septic Tank Insurance
It’s usually a good idea to double-check that your house insurance policy includes coverage for your tank. Problems with the tank are most frequently seen when the pump breaks and the tank begins to overflow into the home. This generally occurs at the lowest drain, such as a shower or bathtub (here’s a guide on how to unclog a bathtub, read it before you need to know how to do it). The best course of action is to contact your insurance carrier and inquire as to whether or not your policy covers septic system failure and sewage backup.
It’s an additional expense, but pumps fail, and it’s better to have something than to take a chance.
However, it’s important to know how long your pump will last and to consult with your tank specialist about when it should be changed and whether or not you are currently ready for a replacement.
How long do septic tanks last?
The average lifespan of a septic tank is 20-30 years before it has to be replaced. If you are getting close to this stage, you may want to think about the additional expenditures that will be associated with rebuilding your septic system.
Tips for your Septic Systems
One of the most common septic tank issues is an excessive amount of water entering the tank. Using a trash disposal in your home will significantly reduce the amount of time between septic tank cleanings, as all of the waste is still solid and will fill up your tank more faster than with a manual disposal. According to some accounts, garbage disposals can cause a septic tank to fill up three times faster than if the disposal is not used. Planting trees around your tank is not recommended since the roots of the trees may intrude into the tank.
Another piece of advice is to be on the lookout for leaks.
To get such problems resolved as soon as possible is a good idea. Otherwise, you will be required to pay for further cleanings. Find a Septic System Professional in Your Area by Clicking Here.
Final Thoughts on Houses with Septic Tanks
It may seem like a lot to take in at once, but keeping a house with a septic tank in good working order is rather simple as long as you don’t flush anything that shouldn’t be flushed. A filter installed prior to your pump will go a long way toward preventing many of the problems. Find a Septic System Professional in Your Area by Clicking Here.