5 VT Septic System Problems To Check When Buying A Home

Congratulations, you’ve found the best deal on the market and are finally ready to buy your new house. Have you had your septic system evaluation yet? A thorough septic system evaluation may save you hundreds of dollars, hours, and effort when purchasing a new home. Here are some tips on septic systems:

  1. Understand How Septic Systems Work

To understand the principles of how a septic system functions and whether it is operating correctly, you don’t have to be a plumber. A conventional septic system consists of a pipe, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. It transports water to a waterproof septic tank via underground channels. Solids and sludge settle to the bottom of the tank, while scum, or floatable materials, float to the top. Effluent, or liquid wastewater, is found in the layer between scum and sludge. The septic tank flows in one direction, allowing waste to exit through a buried drain field in your yard. The soil then absorbs the water that has dispersed. The sludge and scum are kept inside the septic tank until a wastewater company like Pumptech Wastewater Septic services of Vermont pumps them out.

septic system

The Septic Tank

Your septic tank is part of a conventional septic system and is a watertight container typically made from precast concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. The size of the septic tank depends on the size of the house and other factors. It is one part of the wastewater treatment of human waste. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle and form what is called sludge and scum. The oil and grease in the wastewater separate and flot to the surface as what is called scum. This allows the decomposition of the solids to take place. In septic tanks there is a T-shaped outlet pipe that prevents sludge from leaving the septic tank and flowing into the drain field. Most systems installed today have risers at ground level that give you easy access to your septic tank for periodic maintenance, septic pumping, and septic system evaluations.

The Drainfield

The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drain field for treatment by the native soil. If the drain field is overloaded with too much wastewater, it will cause the sewage to flow to the ground surface or creates a backup in the plumbing inside your home.

Many states require a reserve drain field on your property in case your current drain field fails. These areas of your property should be kept in good care.

The Septic System Soil

Septic tank systems need soil that allows organic material to percolate into the soil in your drain field. This provides the final treatment that helps to remove harmful bacteria, viruses and other contaminants that affect your soil conditions.

Across the industry, septic tanks are very similar. Most homes employ biological and physical processes to treat and evacuate wastewater from their septic tanks. More complex processes may need more attention and charges on your part, such as yearly monitoring and reporting, with more sophisticated systems. Some older septic systems may require Cesspools instead of septic systems; you may need to pay to replace them.

septic system

Get The History Of The Septic System

The person from whom you’re purchasing the property should be able to provide you with the name of the company that services their septic tank and their most evaluation and septic tank work. Ask the following questions, and make sure to ask them:

  • Has this septic system ever been pumped?
  • How often did the prior owner have the septic tank pumped?
  • Is there a sewer pipe/septic tank location map?
  • Do they know where the leach field is?
  • Did they keep records of the septic needs, and who performed the maintenance?
  • When was the last evaluation of your septic tank?
  • What septic service company in VT did you use?
  • Have there ever been any septic problems with the usage of your septic system?
  • Where were those septic system issues resolved? How were they resolved?
  • When was your last septic inspection performed?
  • Where are the covers for the tank located on your property?
  • How old is your septic system?

The age of septic systems can range from 15 to 40 years old. When you ask questions, watch and listen carefully to the seller. They may be tempted to deceive to save money on an evaluation or repairs by lying about issues with the conventional septic system or the septic system maintenance. You can negotiate a lower price or repairs as part of your final price if these questions or the documents reveal any issues with the septic system.

Do A Visual Self-Inspection With A Full-Service Septic Provider

During a home visit, ask the homeowner if you may view their septic system. You can keep an eye out for these septic symptoms throughout the house and yard, even if you can’t see the tank underground:

  • Do they have a record of any septic system work?
  • Is this a conventional system or is there anything unique about this septic system?
  • Do you hear pipes gurgling when running water? Is this a failing system?
  • Are there toilet flushing issues with the plumbing?
  • Do the sinks drain slowly?
  • Is there water backed up in any drains, washer machine, etc.?
  • Are there any foul odors outside or inside?
  • Is the grass outdoors greener in one spot of the lawn? This could mean that you have a leak in your tank.
  • Is there standing water? This typically happens close to the drain field and is likely leaking into your yard.
  • Does your leach field have the proper drain vent pipe? This often looks like a candy cane and it should not be blocked in any way.

Stay Informed and Be Aware Of The Costs

After completing the evaluation, make sure that you have receipts of any and all expenses that may arise from repairing the home’s septic system. Ask the inspectors for quotes on the cost of repairing and completely replacing the system while they’re there. Regardless of how inexpensive or costly the work would be, get both quotes in writing. If there are problems, the company providing the evaluation should give you a thorough analysis, photos, and further treatment to get the system running correctly.

You may use this information to negotiate a lower price from the homeowner after you have it documented. Make sure you get evidence of their agreement and a legal report of what they agree to cover if they agree to cover the costly repairs associated with the evaluation or repairs.

If you have never owned a home with a septic system, you will need to perform regular maintenance by a septic professional like PumpTech. A full-service septic service company can cost between $200 and $500. Repairs can cost more depending on what is wrong with your septic system. A quick response is key when hiring a septic service company in Vermont.

septic system

Call The Full Service Wastewater Service Company

Don’t take the owners’ word for granted, even if none of the previous symptoms appear at your prospective new home. It’s always helpful to get a second opinion from a septic professional. Paying for a septic tank evaluation now may seem inconvenient, but it will save you a lot of trouble in the future.

If the evaluation finds anything, you’ll be glad you didn’t close on the house with a faulty septic system. If everything is in good shape, you’ll have peace of mind and an expert’s opinion on anything to watch for in the coming years of living in your new home.  

The first step is finding a trustworthy, professional company to do the evaluation properly. Pumptech, llc specializes in performing septic service evaluations. Many of our technicians have years of experience in working with dry wells, and septic systems, evaluations, wastewater treatment, and pumping septic tanks. Here are some of the many things a proper evaluation will inform you about:

  • Pumping and maintenance records
  • The system’s age
  • The tank’s sludge levels and scum thickness
  • Signs of leakage
  • Signs of backup
  • The integrity of the tank, inlet, and outlet pipes
  • The drain field, for signs of system failure
  • The distribution box, to ensure drain lines are receiving equal flow
  • Available records so you can prove the system complies with local regulations about septic function and location 
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