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Should You Buy a Home with a Septic Tank?

By Ryan Poppe - Last Updated: Tuesday, August 20th, 2019.

Buying a Home with a Septic Tank?Septic tanks are a solution for those homes not hooked up to a municipal waste system and a surprisingly common feature found in urban, suburban and rural homes. With almost 20 percent of homeowners having a septic tank serving their home, people are not as wary of septic tanks as one may think. Homeowners, rather than the town or city government, is responsible for managing a septic tank. A benefit of having a septic tank is that an owner does not need to pay municipal sewer fees. Learn more about what to expect when buying a home, especially in a tight housing market, with a septic tank.

Septic Tank Basics

All the wastewater of a home will be transferred to a septic tank. Materials will begin to separate and settle, with solids settling and floatable materials rising to the top. Liquid wastewater or effluent will exit the system through a buried drainfield. The soil and beneficial bacteria serves to filter and break down organic materials, respectively. A homeowner with a properly maintained septic tank need not worry that effluent will contaminate surface or ground water. Homeowners who have not previously owned a home with a septic system should avoid putting coffee grounds, dental floss, kitty litter or paint into it. This can help prevent a potential clog.

Service Schedule for Septic Tanks

A homeowner with a septic tank needs to regularly maintain it. The frequency of inspections and pumping may alter due to the liquid volume generated by the family and the size of the septic tank. An inspection should be scheduled every three to five years. An inspection is helpful in assessing any leaks, clogs or potential red flags. Pumping may be required at this time. Pumping can cost a homeowner between $250 and $500, according to the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). There are many routine costs that come with owning a home, and regular pumping is relatively inexpensive, especially when not performed on an annual basis.

Know the Rules in Your State

Before purchasing a home with a septic system, it is important to learn what is required from various parties. A lender may want the septic system inspected, and this is not done as part of the typical home inspection. In some instances, a septic system inspection will need to be completed prior to a title transfer. An inspection can provide potential buyers with more information of the general condition of the system and any issues needing attention, like invasive tree roots. It is also useful to find out the age of the septic system. This may be helpful for individuals buying older homes, as a replacement of a conventional system may run as much as $7,000. When maintained properly, a homeowner can expect their septic system to perform well for 40 years or more.

Become a More Mindful Homeowner

Owning a Durango home with a septic tank can have its advantages. Occupants often become more conscious of their water usage, taking shorter showers and conserving water, to reduce water volume going into the system. This can not only assist in getting optimal performance from a system but can also reduce water consumption and associated costs. They can find and hire the best local providers to maintain their system, rather than relying on a town or city government to quickly address issues.

A homeowner can avoid the need for common repairs. Homeowners do not want to flush items outside of human waste and toilet paper. In addition, it is best not to pour cooking oil or grease down a home's sink drains. New homeowners should retain notes of servicing to estimate when the next inspection is needed. It is helpful to contact a professional to explore the general maintenance requirements and determine when routine service is necessary.

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