Buying A Home: What Are My Responsibilities For Septic And Sewer Systems

Buying a home
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The process of buying a home involves many important responsibilities that must be taken care of both before and after the purchase is finalized. This is especially true if you plan to buy a home that has sewage serviced through a septic system. A malfunctioning system can be a dealbreaker, so make sure you understand who is responsible for inspections and repairs before you decide to purchase a home with a septic system.

Important Questions To Ask When Buying a Home With a Septic System

If you are purchasing a home with a septic system, there are several questions you should ask the current owner before continuing with the buying process.

Where Is The Septic System Located?

First off, you should ask where the system is located. This is important because the location of the septic equipment can impact your experience as a homeowner. For instance, it may not be safe to park in certain areas where the septic equipment is underground. The location of the septic system may also determine where you can and can’t perform renovations on the home.

You also want to know where the treated wastewater will drain. Knowing this will give you some idea of how difficult it will be to deal with common concerns, like clogs or tree roots interfering with the pipe system.

Is The Septic System Properly Maintained?

Asking if the septic system has been maintained regularly during the homeowner’s time living there is extremely important, as septic systems need to be pumped on a regular basis to avoid issues. They should also be maintained at least once a year to ensure that the system is operating properly. If the homeowners haven’t kept up with their regular maintenance, there may be unknown issues hampering the functionality of the septic system.

These issues may come to a head during your ownership of the home because a damaged system is more likely to malfunction. To verify that the system has been serviced appropriately, ask the person selling the home to provide you with proof of the transactions, such as receipts from tank pumpings and service visits.

How Often Do You Empty The Septic Tank?

You should also ask the homeowner how often their septic tank has been emptied. Certain fluctuations in this schedule may signify a greater issue. For example, if the tank is being emptied every few months, rather than once every 2 to 5 years, this could be a sign that the septic system is already malfunctioning. If you find anything suspicious, it may be a good idea to contact the company that has been performing maintenance on the system. They will help you discover if the system has been maintained appropriately.

Can I Request That The Home Seller Gets A Septic Tank Inspection?

Laws are different from location to location. In some counties, it is a legal requirement that the seller of a home have their septic system inspected before the transaction can continue. In others, it is considered due diligence for the buyer to request an inspection before making their purchase. Make sure you know the law in your area and act accordingly.

How Does A Home Seller Prepare For A Septic Tank Inspection

Regardless of whether you need to request an inspection, or if the home seller is required to perform one, there are several things the seller must do before the inspection can be completed. The following actions must be taken before the inspection can be performed.

  • Locate all of the septic tanks on the property. Some systems have several tanks that need to be accessed and inspected.
  • Unearth the lids on each tank to make sure that they are “inspection ready.” Each lid for every tank needs to be unearthed. Some tanks have several lids, so be sure that each one has been retrieved.
  • Arrange for someone to pump the septic tank. The seller is allowed to choose whomever they like to perform this service, as they are responsible for paying for it. They should not have the tank pumped prior to the time of inspection.
  • Before the inspection begins, either the owner or realtor needs to mark each and every utility line. The inspector will be inserting metal probing rods into areas of the drainfield, so the inspection cannot be performed until all gas, electric, and telecommunications lines are accounted for.

The Cost of Septic System Maintenance

If you are planning to move into a home with a septic system, the upfront inspection isn’t the only cost you should be concerned with. Once you own the property, you will need to perform regular maintenance on the system. Before you settle the deal, make sure you understand how much this maintenance will cost, and be sure to include it in your budget.

Make Sure Your Future Home’s Septic System Is Inspected

If you are planning to purchase a home that is equipped with a septic system, make sure you have the tank inspected before making your purchase. Regardless of obligation, it is important that you know whether the septic tank is functioning properly. Contact All Septic & Sewer for any questions you may have about septic issues and follow us on Facebook to get ongoing updates on our septic system solutions.

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