Considering a Home With a Septic Tank? Here’s What You Need to Know

So, you’ve found your dream home. It’s in a great location. The price is right. But there’s one problem: it has a septic system.

Don’t let that discourage you. Septic systems may seem foreign, but they’ll operate reliably for decades without causing any issues.

To put your mind at ease, we’re breaking down what a septic system is and how it works so you can buy that home with confidence.

Let’s Debunk Septic Tank Myths

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about septic tanks in the public mind. While septic systems are often viewed as belonging in the past, the Environmental Protection Agency notes that one in five homes in the United States have septic systems, so you won't be alone! Another myth is that septic systems smell bad even when they are working correctly, and this is simply not true. They only emit a bad odor when they are malfunctioning, and they can almost always be fixed.

Perhaps the biggest myth about septic systems is that they fail all the time. The truth is that, with minimal maintenance, they generally work just fine for decades. Potential homeowners often fear that a septic system will contaminate a well, but, if the septic system is located at least 50 feet from the well and is properly maintained, there is little danger of this.

How a Septic Tank Works

When you flush the toilet, the waste goes out of the house and into the underground septic tank. Once there, it is broken down by anaerobic bacteria. The heavy solid waste, or sludge, sinks to the bottom of the tank, while the lighter solid waste, or scum, goes to the top. The liquid matter continues on out of the tank to where it eventually trickles through a perforated pipe into a drain field and ultimately filters down into the soil.

The beauty of the system is that the waste that collects in the tank provides a haven for the bacteria that helps the system work. With some help from you and a plumbing team that works with septic tanks, the system should work just fine.

Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Having said that, you have to do your part to make sure that your septic tank works smoothly. Here are the basics of troubleshooting and maintenance:

  • Take care not to flush artificial and non-biodegradable products such as diapers and feminine napkins.

  • Avoid putting artificial cleansers into the system; they kill useful bacteria.

  • Make sure you don't put weight on the system by parking over it.

  • Call in a professional immediately if you suspect problems.

  • Have the tank pumped at least every two years by a professional team.

  • Avoid planting trees and bushes near the system; their roots can cause problems.

What to Watch Out For

If you notice that the grass is greener over the septic tank or drain field, then it's likely that there is a leak somewhere in the system. Furthermore, if waste is draining back into the house, call in a professional immediately. Unusual sounds often indicate that interior drains are not functioning as they should, and, of course, foul odors indicate that it is time to bring in a professional.

Before Buying the Home, Get an Inspection

What many people don't realize is that home inspections rarely cover septic systems. This means that, if you're considering buying a home with a septic system, you'll have to hire an outside inspector that knows what they are doing so that you know what you're getting into.

Bottom line: With proper maintenance, a septic system will operate problem-free for many years. If you’re a new homeowner with a septic system, don’t hesitate to reach out to Integrated Plumbing Solutions. To schedule your appointment, call (770) 343-7370.