Are you selling a property that has a septic system? It will need to be inspected prior to settlement. Yesterday I went on a septic inspection and learned the basics for real estate professionals.
We started the appointment by turning on a bathtub facet in the house and letting the water run to get an accurate test. Next we had to locate the Septic manhole cover, which proved challenging. The owner was not on-site with us, so we only had a general sense of the location. Luckily the septic tech had brought equipment to help him find the cover including a metal detector.
Our manhole cover was buried underground, so the tech had to dig to gain access. The tech let the buyer know that he had the option of installing a ground-level access cover, known as a manhole riser, to make it easier to access the tank in the future. For aesthetic reasons most homeowners prefer to have the cover below ground level.
Here is how a Septic System works:
Sewage from the house enters the tank and after separating into 3 layers; scum, wastewater, and sludge, the treated wastewater goes to the drainfield.
The drainfield, which is made up of limestone rock, is projected to last 30 years before a second drainfield will need to be added to alleviate the first field. The second drainfield will be used for 30 years, after which the wastewater can be routed back to the first field. This reminds me of the idea of crop rotations.
The tech found that the concrete near the top of the tank was failing (it looked crumbly) and suggested that the new owner may want to replace it was a PVC plastic which should endure a bit better than the concrete. This was not considered a “significant” issue, but it seemed apparent to me that it was a good idea for the future.
In conclusion the tech said the new owner had another six months to a year before they needed to have the septic tank pumped. This estimate of time was based on the amount of sludge measured in the tank and the projected use based on the amount of occupants in the home. In general a septic tank should be cleaned every 1-5 years based on usage.
Additional maintenance suggestions included a recommendation to install an effluent filter to further protect against solids entering the drainage area, and a suggestion to use liquid laundry and dishwasher detergent.
It’s not the most appealing subject, but it sure is important to have a basic knowledge before you purchase a property with a septic system. I think of it as the bowels of the house.
It was very hot and buggy out, and it was obvious that the job of septic inspection and maintenance is not for wimps. I can only imagine the obstacles in the dead of winter!
We worked with Eric Garret of Home Land Septic Consulting, LLC. If the property is located in Maryland, I would not hesitate to give him a call.
The scheduling number is 443-995-5385, or www.mdwellandseptic.com
They offer Septic evaluations; water sampling and well yield testing.
Broker / Owner Guerilla Realty and
Vice President Tranzon Fox Auctions
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