Homeowners who are unfamiliar with septic systems may be reluctant to consider buying a house with a septic tank. The reality is that homes with septic tanks function just like homes connected to municipal sewers, though there are some pros and cons of septic systems.
The Basics – How Does a Septic System Work?
In homes with a septic system installation, wastewater is transferred out of the home through a pipe that leads to a large underground, watertight tank, known as a septic tank. In this tank, solids (sludge) settle to the bottom, floatable materials (scum) rise to the top, and the middle is liquid wastewater known as effluent.
Bacteria in the septic tank work to break down the materials in the wastewater, and the sludge and scum are periodically pumped out by a septic professional.
The effluent exits the tank via pipes into a drainfield, where it is dispersed into the soil. The soil filters out contaminants.
Pros of Living in a House with a Septic System
- No monthly or quarterly cost of public sewer
- Properly maintained septic systems are more environmentally friendly
- Many homes with septic systems have more property because they are further away from cities and towns
- Septic tanks are durable, often lasting as long as 40 years
- Often costs less to install than public sewer, especially if the home is situated a distance away from any public sewer lines
- Conserving water to help the septic system is also environmentally friendly
Cons of Living in a House with a Septic System
- Septic tanks should be inspected and pumped every two to five years, generally at a cost of $300 – $600
- Septic tanks are a delicately balanced ecosystem, so homeowners need to be aware of best practices for living with a septic system to avoid causing problems
Real Estate Septic System Inspection
All prospective home buyers, and especially those who are unfamiliar with septic systems, should have a real estate septic system inspection done before purchasing a home.
While a home inspector is likely to do a cursory assessment to ensure that a septic system is functioning properly, a real estate septic system inspection will go much further. These inspections should be done by a professional septic service company, since septic systems are complex and noxious fumes can be emitted from the tank if not treated properly.
Typically, a real estate septic inspection will last between 45 minutes and a few hours. The inspector will examine:
- Records of past inspections and septic tank pumping or cleaning
- Sludge and scum levels in the septic tank
- Drain lines
- Inlet and outlet pipes
- Drainfield location and evidence of effectiveness
- Tank and lids
- Size of the septic system relative to the home and the anticipated number of residents
A thorough real estate septic system inspection can provide peace of mind to the buyer, seller, and even the real estate agents involved.
Septic System Maintenance and Care
One of the concerns that homeowners often have about septic systems is how to maintain them to ensure proper functioning. The basics of septic and public sewer are the same – wastewater needs to be removed from the home and treated before being returned to the environment.
In both a septic system installation and a home connected to public sewer, a little common sense goes a long way. One of the most common problems with both is flushing things down the toilet or drains that cause a clog.
Beyond that, though, septic systems require some specific considerations on the part of the home’s residents and guests:
- Do not flush non-waste solids down the drain.
- No hygiene products
- No diapers
- No wipes
- No dental floss
- No cigarette butts
- No condoms
- No grease or oil
2. Do not flush anything that can harm the bacteria in the septic tank.
- No prescription medications
- No over the counter medicines
- No excessive amounts of bleach
- No large quantities of antibacterial products
- No harsh chemicals like paint thinner
3. Control the amount of water going into the system.
- Install low-flow fixtures like toilets, showers, and faucets
- Avoid doing all of the family’s laundry on a single day
4. Do not misuse the drainfield.
- No parking or driving on the drainfield
- No trees, bushes or plants with extensive roots on the drainfield
5. Understand maintenance requirements.
- Get regular inspections and septic tank pumping
- Keep large trees and plants away from drainfields, pipes, and septic tanks
6. Get help as soon as there are signs of problems.
- Four sewage odor coming from the yard
- Standing water on the property
- Excessively lush grass around the drainfield
- Clogged or slow drains in the home
- Well water issues
- Sewage backup
It is important to follow these recommendations to avoid causing issues, from minor clogs to more serious things like ruined drain fields or cracks in the septic tank. Septic systems can often last a lifetime, but carelessness or lack of maintenance can result in expensive repairs or even a full replacement.
Septic and Drainfield Maintenance, Repairs, and Installation
If you need service for your septic system or drain field, contact Septic and Drainfield Depot. We are a fully insured and licensed septic contractor in the state of Florida. Our professionals have hundreds of hours of hands-on training, and we guarantee your satisfaction.
We have lived in Polk County for most of our lives, and we have a deep understanding of and dedication to the community. We are punctual, qualified, local, and customer- centric.
Our services include:
- Septic tank installation
- Drainfield installation
- Lift station installation
- Septic tank inspection
- Drainfield inspection
- Septic tank repair
- Drainfield repair
- Lift station maintenance
- Residential and commercial septic tank pumping
- Residential and commercial septic tank cleaning
We offer free estimates and easy financing options to allow you to break the cost of any septic work into predictable monthly payments. Service is available 24/7 for emergency situations.
We provide septic, drainfield, and lift station services in and around Lakeland, including Winter Haven, Plant City, Brandon, Valrico, Davenport, and more.