When buying a home, it pays to know what you’re getting yourself into. A property that looks nice on the outside doesn’t amount to much if the internal workings are in poor condition. Indeed, you could end up forking over even more money for repairs or replacements if it turns out there are structural, electrical, or plumbing problems.
One thing that people sometimes overlook when investigating their housing options is the importance of septic tank inspections. Making sure a property’s septic system functions properly makes all the difference when deciding if that property is going to be the house of your dreams… or a living nightmare!
What You Need to Know About Your Home’s Septic System
Where is the House’s Septic Tank Located?
The first thing you should know about your home’s septic system is the location of the tank, pump, sewage line, and leach field. Not only is this the first step to performing a full inspection, it may also affect any renovation or construction plans you have in mind. If you’re planning on building a new garage, for example, your septic tank might need to be moved completely.
Additionally, you will always want to know the location of your tank lid, filter access, and inspection port. These are all vital not just for the inspection, but for general maintenance throughout the entire lifetime of the system.
What Kind of Septic Tank Does the System Use?
Although there are a number of sizes, materials, and subtypes of septic tank that are worth knowing, there are ultimately two main kinds of septic tank you should be aware of: aerobic and anaerobic.
Aerobic tanks are more compact and treat wastewater with oxygen, but they’re also more expensive and they require more regular maintenance. Anaerobic tanks, meanwhile, use gravity to separate liquid and solid waste. Anaerobic tanks are often larger and more expensive, and their effectiveness is directly tied to the permeability of the soil on your property.
Does the Installed Tank Meet Your Needs?
How well your septic system functions depends greatly on how much you use it. Different tanks have different holding capacities. When moving into a new home, it’s important to keep in mind that the former tenant’s waste production rate might have been different than your own.
For example, a two-bedroom home once occupied by two people sleeping separately may now be occupied by a husband and wife in one bedroom and three children sharing the other bedroom. Five people will create significantly more waste than one, which could put undue strain on the septic system if the tank isn’t big enough.
How Old is the Current Septic System?
The average septic system has a life expectancy of about 10-15 years, but some can last much longer or much shorter. This depends on a number of factors, including usage and maintenance.
That said, it’s still a good idea to know the age of your septic system, as newer ones are less likely to have issues while older ones are more likely to need replacement or repairs.
Are There Any Signs of Wastewater Leakage?
One of the biggest warning signs of a damaged or malfunctioning septic system is wastewater leakage and sewage backup. Hints that this is a problem are sometimes subtle (slow-flushing toilets, a gurgling sound coming from the drains) and sometimes obvious (persistent foul odors, standing water in the house’s lawn).
Although these can sometimes be indications of a temporary blockage, they can also suggest a more serious, underlying issue. If wastewater is leaking from your tank, it could allow harmful bacteria to spread to your drinking water.
When Was the Last Time the Tank Was Pumped?
Most septic tanks should be pumped every 3-4 years. For this reason, it’s crucial to know when the last time your home’s tank was pumped, so you can plan ahead and schedule the next pumping.
Additionally, knowing when the tank was last pumped can help you get an idea of how well-maintained the system actually is. If the last time it was pumped was more than four years, for instance, that might indicate the former tenants neglected the system, which means it might require more attention.
Call Avalanche Services to Schedule a Septic Inspection
Getting a full septic inspection can help you find and fix small issues before they become big (and expensive) ones. The experienced professionals at Avalanche Services are experts in every aspect of septic system operation; let us put our knowledge to work for you.
We also offer a wide assortment of other services, including septic system design, installation, and maintenance. Whatever you need, we can help. Contact Avalanche Services today to set up an appointment!