Prospective Home Buyer Beware

Prospective Homebuyer Beware!
By Amanda Furmage-Deck

All prospective homebuyers want to know the condition of a property before they purchase it. From the roof all the way down to the basement floor, it’s important to examine every inch of a home before making an investment worth thousands of dollars. Who would want to invest in a home housing a severe mold problem or leaky pipes? Although these issues are typically easy to locate, many homebuyers tend to overlook a critical aspect of the home that could later cost them even more money to replace or repair simply because it’s buried beneath the soil, out of view—the septic system.

When purchasing a new home serviced by a septic system, it’s first important to learn how a septic system works, especially if you are not familiar with the process. Conventional septic systems consist of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a drain field. First, waste from your home enters the septic tank where solid waste is separated from liquid waste. The solids either float to the top of the tank in the form of scum (grease, oil) or sink to the bottom in the form of sludge. Bacteria present within the tank decompose these solids into smaller particles which are later removed when the tank is pumped by a professional septic tank contractor, usually every three to five years depending on home water usage and septic tank size. In the meantime, liquid waste, or effluent flows out of the tank and into the distribution box where it is equally dispersed into the multiple drain field pipes. Finally, the wastewater slowly trickles down into the soil from the perforated pipes where it is further treated and purified.

Once you understand how a septic system works, it’s time to investigate. Ask the present homeowner about the system and try to gather as much information as you can such as pumping frequency, contractor used to pump and inspect, major repairs, and past performance. Also, have the homeowner show you the location of the septic tank so you can inspect the site for exterior structural integrity. If he/she can’t tell you where the septic tank is, then you can be sure no one has been maintaining it on a regular basis. 

After personally investigating the septic tank of a prospective home, it’s time to hire a professional septic tank inspector to conduct special tests on the entire system. Consider Southern Water and Soil for your next septic system inspection. Their extensive 10-point inspection process will ensure each aspect of a septic system is working properly. In addition, owner Greg Mayfield—a past Florida Department of Health septic inspector—has the solid science, education, and career experience necessary to do the job right the first time. Through his 10-point inspection, Mayfield and his trusted team will examine the condition of every feature of the system, from the septic tank lid to the drain field soil.

Having a professional inspection completed before you purchase a home is extremely important. For example, if you already purchased the home, you’ll be responsible for installing a new septic system and footing the bill if the previous system is faulty. Yet if you catch the problem before purchase, you can either back out of the deal or the seller can agree to repair or replace the system.

So, prospective homebuyers beware! A damaged septic system can cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair. Don’t take the risk. Have the septic system inspected by a professional before purchase.

Rainy Weather and Your Septic System

Rainy Weather and Your Septic System
By Amanda Furmage-Deck

One of the most important features of a septic system is the aerobic soil that lies beneath the surface of the drain field. In fact, aerobic or unsaturated, oxygen-rich soil is needed to properly treat wastewater by breaking down organic waste and removing contaminants. However, if this soil becomes oversaturated with water, the entire septic system can fail. As the water table rises, the only place for new wastewater to travel is either up onto the surface of your lawn or back into your home, creating a noxious toxic mess and a costly problem to clean. 

Although Florida residents are currently experiencing dry winter months, warmer summer weather will be arriving soon, and it will be sure to bring heavy amounts of rainfall that can be detrimental to a septic system. Therefore, now is the time to understand how rainy weather can affect your on-site wastewater treatment system.

Before the rain starts to fall, it’s important to get your septic system inspected by trained professionals, especially if your system is over 10 years old or you live near water or in a low lying area susceptible to flooding. Greg Mayfield and his experienced team members at Southern Water and Soil will check your system for worn or loose seals, cracked pipes, and structural integrity to ensure unwanted water is not entering the tank, distribution box, or drain field lines.

Although you can’t control weather, you can re-route rainwater runoff from roofs, gutters, and external drains from oversaturating your septic system. According to, “the average home, during a rainstorm that delivers about an inch of water per hour, can have a runoff of over 50,000 gallons of water.” If directed toward your drain field, your system will be sure to quickly fail. Southern Water and Soil can help you devise a drainage plan that will reduce the amount of rainwater runoff access to your drain field.

In addition to redirecting rainwater runoff, ease the stress on your system during rainy weather by reducing use of the system. This means reducing use of the dishwasher, garbage disposal, shower and bath, and washing machine.

In the meantime, look out for these warning signs for a failed septic system:
Toilets and sinks drain slowly
Toilets sound strange when flushed
Water backing up onto the floor of your basement
Constant bogginess above your drain field
Strange smells in your yard or house