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.

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