Is a Septic System Inspection Necessary When Buying a House?

As a home buyer, if you are looking to buy in a rural or suburban area, chances are good that one of the houses you are considering has an onsite septic system. Currently, about 20 percent of homes throughout the United States do, and that percentage is doubled in the state of Connecticut.  Whether you have already found a potential new home with a septic system or you are still narrowing down your choices, the following is valuable information to bear in mind during your journey toward home ownership.

Septic System Overview

A private septic system handles and treats all of the wastewater flowing from your home’s sinks, toilets and showers. This self-contained system is located underground and consists of a main sewer line, a septic tank, a distribution box, an effluent distribution pipe and a drainfield or leachfield. Solid waste remains in the septic tank where it decomposes, and the other sewage, called effluent, exits into the leachfield. A properly functioning septic tank has naturally occurring bacteria that treats the waste, as do soils in the drainfield, prohibiting the waste from contaminating the environment. The septic tank typically treats about 40 percent of the household’s sewage wastewater, and the surrounding soils and drainfield trenches treat the remaining 60 percent.

Septic System Inspections

A properly installed and well-maintained septic system is an efficient and simple way of treating household wastewater. However, the entire system is located on the homeowner’s property. This means you will be completely responsible for its operation and upkeep. A poorly maintained system or one with existing problems can lead to costly repair or total replacement. It may also pose serious health risks. Because of this, a septic system inspection is highly recommended prior to purchase of the home.

You will want an independent inspector to perform this service, one that poses no conflicts of interest with the seller. The inspector will check to ensure that the entire system is functioning properly, and may perform these and other procedures:

  • Obtain information about the system – tank and drainfield location, age, inspection history, pumping record.
  • Uncover manholes and inspection ports.
  • Flush toilets to determine how the system is working, which may include the use of dye.
  • Examine the septic tank and drainfield.
  • Assess the scum and sludge levels in the tank.
  • Use a soil probe to identify the length and width of the leachfield trenches.
  • Provide a comprehensive report of all components of the inspection and its findings.

Your inspector cannot advise you on whether or not to purchase the property. However, he should warn you of any hazards, potentially required repairs and replacements, and any aspects of the system that fall below the acceptable level of safety and/or reliability. At OZ Sanitation, we understand the value and importance of pre-purchase septic system inspections. Our professional inspectors strive to exceed your expectations and help you obtain the essential information you need to make an informed decision. Contact us today to schedule your inspection for valuable peace of mind.