Remember to Inspect the Septic System When Buying a Home

When you are thinking about buying a house, there are countless factors to keep in mind. You want a home that’s big enough, in a decent neighborhood and that meets your budget. It’s also important to have the home inspected before you sign on the dotted line, to make sure the plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems are all in working order. One important part of household plumbing that many people might overlook is the septic system. Read on to learn more.

The Final Destination of Your Household Plumbing

The first thing you need to understand about a home’s waste management system is whether it’s connected to a municipal sewer line or not. If your household plumbing does empty into a sewer, it’s important to have the line inspected in its own right -- sewage pipe problems can cause waste to back up into the house, and repairs can run into five figures if the yard or sidewalk needs to be dug up. A test of the sewer line should be a standard part of any plumbing inspection when you are considering purchasing a home.

If, however, the home in question has its own septic tank, there is a whole different set of issues that need to be taken into account. Instead of having your waste whisked away by the city when you flush the toilet or drain the bathtub, it is stored underground on your property until you have it pumped. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the septic system function properly, or you could expose yourself and your family to a serious health risk.

Backups, Overflows and Sludge Levels

The danger of a faulty septic tank isn’t so much that the sewage will back up into the home -- more likely, it will leak or overflow into the yard. Septic tanks are designed to allow liquids to slowly percolate out and disperse into a drain field, but if they get overfilled, the solids could escape as well, creating unpleasant odors and dangerous sanitary conditions in your yard.

To test the septic tank, a professional inspector should check on the levels of solids and sludge inside. If the unit is nearly full, it could be a sign that it needs pumping, but it could also be an indicator that past maintenance has been neglected and there are other problems afoot. The inspector can also physically inspect the working parts of the tank that are accessible, and if he or she suspects there is a problem, you can have the soil near the tank tested for contamination.

At the Forefront of Care for Your Household Plumbing

When you are looking to buy a home with a septic tank, make sure your plumbing inspector is qualified to evaluate the equipment. For home inspections or any other help with your household plumbing, reach out to your skilled, licensed, local plumbers.

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