10 Things to Know Before Buying a House With a Septic Tank
Imagine the terror of running through the yard barefoot, suddenly realizing the ground is soft and soggy.
Frantically, you try to remember the last time it rained. Oh no, it hasn’t rained in months.
Against your better judgment, you look down, confirming your worst fears. Your feet are covered in what you know to be you and your family’s waste.
Your septic tank is backed up.
Now what? Do you call the plumber or take a shower? Will taking a shower back the septic tank up further?
Is buying a house with a septic tank worth it?
Let’s find out.
Common Problems With Septic Tanks
Drainfield problems are the most infamous of all septic tank problems. These account for the nightmarish events that comedic movies often extort to great effect.
These are the soggy yards of septic tank problems caused by over-filled or damaged tanks and lines.
Clogs are more common issues. Clogs occur most often when something is flushed down the toilet that shouldn’t be. These are generally easy fixes, however.
Alternatively, a clog can be an indication that it’s time to get your septic tank pumped.
Tree roots are also a common cause of septic system issues. Tree roots can eventually grow into and destroy septic tanks and septic tank lines.
Homeowners should be aware of where their septic system is in relationship to the trees on their property.
Signs That Indicate a Problem in Your Septic System
Untreated clogs can lead to slow water drainage from sinks, showers, and tubs. Unfortunately, clogs also lead to odors related to toilets backing up, creating a mess that most people don’t enjoy cleaning.
As mentioned above, soggy lawns or standing water on lawns also indicate some form of back-up with your septic system.
If the back-up hasn’t surfaced yet, you may notice overly luscious grass in concentrated areas. The grass will be growing faster and have a greener color.
In any case, call a professional immediately.
Septic Repairs Costs
With the eventuality of septic system problems, you should know the costs that may await you when buying a house with a septic tank.
If you have a simple clog issue, your cost will be likeable to that of a plumber visit.
However, if something is broken or needs repaired/replaced, you are going to need to fork over a little more dough.
Line breakages can cost as low as a couple hundred dollars. To get a drain field issue fixed, however, you could be looking at $2,000 to $10,000.
New septic systems cost $3,000 to $10,000 or more.
Before you get too upset about the money, let’s look at what kind of coverage you can get for your septic system.
Warranties for Home Septic Systems
Septic system home warranties can change your entire outlook on buying a house with a septic system.
Plans can range in coverage just like all warranties. Therefore, when considering your plan, make sure you know what you’re in for. Know what you’re covered for and what you’re not.
The last thing you want is any nasty surprises, aside from a yard full of waste, that is.
A good septic system warranty can be the difference between an annoying problem and an expensive nightmare. Before buying a house with a septic tank, find out more about what kind of protection you can get.
Longevity of Septic Systems
Homeowners should expect their septic systems to last 25-35 years.
Although, maintenance is vital to the longevity of your system. If you want it to last longer, take better care of it.
How to Respect Your Septic System for Maximum Performance
Septic systems are a bit more touchy than sewer systems.
What you flush has a much greater influence on functionality. For example, common non-flushables that are flushed anyways can really take a toll on your system.
Feminine products, wet-wipes, paper towels and all other things that shouldn’t be flushed but are can clog a septic system without blinking an eye.
Excess water usage can also put unnecessary stress on your system. Avoid taking extra long showers and leaving the water running in tubs and sinks.
How Often Do Septic Tanks Need Emptied?
Depending on the size of your household and septic tank, you should only need the tank emptied once every three to five years.
Obviously, a married couple can go much longer before emptying their septic tank than a family of five.
Play it safe when determining how long you go between emptying your tank. The more sludge that builds up on the bottom, the less efficient your septic system will be.
Just like all things in life, better maintenance means better performance.
Annual Cost of a Septic System vs. a Sewer System
The costs of owning a septic system vs a sewer system can be vastly different.
We have already established the costs of installing a new septic system (roughly $5,000-$15,000). However, assuming you have no issues with your system, there is no additional cost to having it.
That being said, septic tanks require maintenance and emptying. Emptying a tank can cost anywhere from $75-$300 depending on your location.
Alternatively, hooking up to the main sewer line can be just as costly or more. Depending on your city and the location of your house, sewage hook-up can cost $5,000-$20,000.
While you pay a monthly fee to the city for being connected to sewage, you will never be responsible for maintenance. City fees vary depending on location. Look into the rates you would be paying for both if you are looking to save money.
Do Septic Tanks Raise or Lower Property Values?
While the controversy is strong and varied across the board, the general consensus is that a septic system neither raises or lowers property value.
That’s not to say that you won’t lose a few potential buyers if you are selling a home with a septic system. Some people have a negative disposition towards them, whether they understand why or not. However, it should not affect the price of the home.
Is Buying a House With a Septic Tank Worth It?
Finding a house you love can be difficult. If you have found a perfect house and the last thing affecting your decision is a septic tank, just buy the house.
Major issues aren’t that common in septic systems and with the appropriate home warranty, it won’t be a problem should a situation arise.
Of course, there are many places where connecting to the main sewer line isn’t even an option. In these scenarios, it’s clear that you have no choice but to accept a septic system. That is the price you pay for living away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Bottom Line
When considering a home, septic or sewer shouldn’t be too high up on your list of priorities.
Each comes with pros and cons. Some will argue the validity of one side over the other, but on a day to day basis, it’s not something that will majorly affect you.
Buying a house with a septic system is not unwise. It will require a little more maintenance on your end, but ultimately, it’s not anything to lose sleep over.
If you want more advice on how to take care of your home or what to look for when buying a house, check out our blog!