Need advice on purchasing home with well/septic

Discussion in 'General' started by Chris, May 14, 2019.

  1. rd49

    rd49 Well-Known Member

    My sister’s house is in PA.
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Administrator

    Septics are easy. Just don't flush anything other than toilet paper down it and you'll be fine. We have had to pump ours once in its 25 years existence and that was due to some truly oddball stuff the mother in law would flush like washcloths and tons of paper towels. Had a decent amount of grease in there too - she seemed to think it'd take everything a Chicago sewer could :D

    We're on top of a hill so no issues with groundwater like Rick talked about but that is definitely something to consider. Overall though it's a big cement tank that lets the solids settle and the liquid runs out a pipe a good ways up the wall to a drain field, hard to mess them up.
  3. noles19

    noles19 Well-Known Member

    Septics and Wells aren't a big deal,and are just part of living in the country.
    Biggest thing I can say that hasn't been said, is find your leech field, and Mark it and do not drive on it,and do not let other even power company etc drive on it ever....
  4. turner38

    turner38 Well-Known Member

    They work fine, until your complete extended family show up for the holidays and spends three weeks living with you....
  5. noles19

    noles19 Well-Known Member

    You can't blame the septic for that bad decision man...
    Chris, D-Zum and Banditracer like this.
  6. CRA_Fizzer

    CRA_Fizzer Honking at putter!

    Get it inspected. Something that old could still be using a cesspool. No good.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
  7. BC

    BC Well-Known Member

    If the house is still or recently occupied then ask in writing when was the last time they had it pumped out. A tank with no poop the bugs will starve. But if they recently had it pumped, that could indicate a problem.

    If you have it inspected, be there. The most common way a system fails is the tank fills with solids and the solids float into the drain field. Unfortunately most inspections will lead to a replacement recommendation.

    If it hasn't been pumped in a while and you stick a broom handle or pvc pipe in there and don't hit solids till the bottom of the tank your good.
  8. Spitz

    Spitz Well-Known Member

    Jebus christ, aren't you suppose to have those sucked out every 3-5 years? Parents forgot and they were lucky they guy just flushed the drain field and it's been good since, but my dad says he's pumping his every 4 years no matter what.
    michaelrc51 likes this.
  9. michaelrc51

    michaelrc51 Well-Known Member

    Have a good company test it properly. Here in NJ I believe it has to flow 500 gallons out to the Leach field and drain properly. Basically your sewage main goes from the house into a baffled tank. The solids eventually get light enough to go over the baffles and out of the tank. Then the go out another 3"-4" pipe to a distribution box which has multiple PVC lines of a smaller diameter that go out to your leach field. The leach field is an area the the pipes from the distribution box run through that is dependent on the size of the house. The PVC pipes have holes down the length of the pipe so the fluids and solids can be distributed throughout the field. The pipe are in stone and then have a deep sand bed underneath the stone, this dissipates the waste.

    The tester will fill the tank and open the distributuion box to make sure everything is flowing well. They will flow a specified number of gallons through it and make sure the flow is good through the distribution box and not backing up. If it backs up you have a problem with your leach field. On my current property, we had a bad tank when I purchased it. The tank was filled to the outlet when we left the day we tested it, when we came back the next day the level had dropped 12" below the outlet. So, we put in a new plastic tank with filters, cost about $4k total.

    There are other systems that are more complex but that's the gist of how they work. IDK why people pump them every 5 years or so, I pump mine every 2. If nothing else it helps take the burden off of the system, and the system should last much longer. Seeing as how a leach field replacement can run you up to $30k I would think it's worth the $200 to pump it every couple of years, cheap insurance.

    There's nothing wrong with septic tank systems, just maintain it and don't put anything down the drain that doesn't belong and it'll last for a long time.
  10. damiankelly

    damiankelly Well-Known Member

    Why would it need to ever be moved?

    Put in the offer contingent on inspections and it will help you negotiating if anything fails or needs to be reworked.
    Some townships will require redundant tanks but the drain field could be fine. Sometimes the septic company will do a hydraulic load test to see if it operates properly.

    if the system has been serviced by a company you could have them inspect it and tell you what is going on.
    If is is on a cesspool... you will need to pump it on occasion but not the end of the world... unless you are mortgaging the house a bank will not lend with cesspools. Diff story-(is this the case)?

    If you plan to renovate and ADD bedrooms the current septic will have to be enlarged so plan on that.. perc tests etc.. plan accordingly.. a heads up!

    My 2¢…
  11. Rebel635

    Rebel635 Well-Known Member

    I love the fact that I’m on a well. Septic as well but I’m not happy or sad about that. Part of the purchase was the previous owners had to pump it out.

    I love not having a $100 a month water/waste bill like before. I’m hardly home and definitely don’t use that much water or waste so it irks me it’s a set amount
  12. In Your Corner

    In Your Corner It's a little-known fact...

    I pump mine out every 6 or 7 years.
  13. Rising

    Rising Well-Known Member

    Cousin Eddy came for a visit?
  14. OldGuyOnBlu

    OldGuyOnBlu Well-Known Member

    Get the well water tested before you do anything else. Check for e-coli, nitrates, and a whole host of chemical contaminants including VOCs, organophosphates, pesticides and more. And do so yearly thereafter. Don't buy if the water is bad unless you can find and afford a definitive treatment option.
  15. TWF2

    TWF2 2 heads are better than 1

    Maybe easier to build new leach field than fix existing. I know my property map has drawn location for new leach field if repair needed.
    damiankelly likes this.
  16. kyle carver

    kyle carver Well-Known Member

    The things I would do are: check and see if public water and or sewer is available. It may mean you have to tie on. But it also would be a great backup if either fail. And definitely have the water from the well checked.
  17. CRA_Fizzer

    CRA_Fizzer Honking at putter!

    I don't miss city sewer/water one bit! The town I live in has outrageous fees. No thanks.
    There is nothing wrong with a private system. Pump it out ever few years, don't use RidX.
    michaelrc51 likes this.
  18. Razr

    Razr Well-Known Member

    It might vary by location, but around here the size of the septic is based on how many bedrooms the home has, the size of the home or amount of bathrooms has no effect on the septic.
  19. Razr

    Razr Well-Known Member

    Good point. Some locations around here require you to hook onto the city sewer/water when they install the service at the street. Some areas have a large connection fee (5k for each connection) that's just for the permit, doesn't include the cost to bring the utility to the home.
  20. Motofun352

    Motofun352 Well-Known Member

    I live in PA and have had a well and septic for over 35 years. Most (many?) septic tanks are concrete boxes about 6X6X6. Concrete doesn't like salt so be careful if there is a water softener on the system. I've only ever had one problem with a tank and that was caused by a salt based softener. As others have said only the 3 P's go down the drain...Poop, Pee and Paper (TP, that is)...soap, laundry detergent and anything else like that is OK too. Do get the tank pumped about every 4 years as some solids like grease don't get broken down by the bacteria. The last thing you want is those solids filling the tank to the point that they overflow and clog the drain field.
    Don't worry about Ridex or any of those other additives, not necessary. I used to ask the honey dipper guy about washing the tank after it was pumped. He said the only real point was to get the majority of the solids out. The bacteria are naturally occurring and will start right up as soon as the tank is closed up (they are anaerobic).
    Wells are another matter. Get your water tested, the complete test, not the short one. There are lots of things to check out there. Are the house pipes copper with old fashioned lead solder? Is there lots of iron in the water (a major PIA). My current pump has been replaced once due to a lightning strike, other than that I've had 25 years of trouble free service. I did have to replace the control switch once as the contacts were burnt (also lightning?). My water is fantastic, pure, clean and no good that I am still on my first water heater after 25 years and the heating elements are still good!

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