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Septic System Inspections: Critically Important for First-Time Buyers

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A Septic Tank
When you are in the planning stages of purchasing a first home, the thought of becoming a homeowner can be pretty exhilarating. But you may find it a bit more difficult to feel enthusiastic if the property you plan to purchase is served by a septic system — which you will be responsible for.

Like with all new experiences, however, taking time to educate yourself is a great way to ensure that you can successfully fulfill your duties and responsibilities. Use the following information to make good buying decisions now and while owning and managing your own onsite residential septic system.

Understand the Differences in Inspections

While most standard home inspection reports include a brief section about the septic system, home inspectors typically report only general, easily visible details.

For example, a home inspector will usually note the location of the waste pipe, septic tank, and drain field but offer no opinion on their condition. This is because most home inspectors lack the certification and training to perform a complete septic system inspection. They will, however, note whether sink drains and toilets are functioning properly. 

Know What to Expect From a Septic Inspection

Prospective homeowners who want to have as much information as possible about the septic system of any home they consider will want to make their offer contingent upon the results of a complete septic inspection performed by a properly trained and certified septic inspector or licensed installer.  

During a professional septic inspection, inspectors will:
  • Locate and inspect the tank and drainfield, including the riser lids, distribution box, baffles, and pumps, for damage or issues
  • Measure the depth of the sludge level inside the septic tank
  • Ensure that the location between the septic system and the well meets distance regulations for health and safety
Septic system inspectors will also carefully examine the soil around the system for any evidence of past or present overflows or seepage that could indicate that the system is not fully functional. Many inspectors now also use technology to inspect the interior of the pipes and septic tank. Such methods can eliminate the need to disturb the dirt or grass in the area where the system is located. 

Gather Additional Information

Prospective buyers of a home with a septic system will likely be able to gather some important information from the seller's disclosure document, which is now a required part of most residential real estate transactions.

The seller's disclosure document asks that sellers provide information about any issues or repairs the system may have had during the years they have owned the home. 

Prospective buyers can also work through their agent to request additional information beyond the scope of the seller's disclosure statement. Good questions to ask include the last date on which the septic system was pumped out and the typical length of time between pump-outs. 

It can also be helpful for the buyers to know how large the seller's family is so that they can better understand how their own expected usage will compare. Having this type of information will be useful in helping the buyers develop a plan to properly maintain the system after they purchase and begin living in the home.  

Purchasing a home with an inadequate or failing septic system is an expensive mistake that first-time homeowners should always strive to avoid. At Acme Environmental Services, LLC, our septic system experts can provide a full range of inspections to help first-time home buyers feel more confident in their selection of and investment in a home.

Once the purchase has closed, we can work with you to develop the best possible maintenance plan to keep your septic system functioning properly through the years to come.