When preparing to buy a new home, you’ll likely make a list of all the things you want it to have – the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a garden, shed or pool etc? One item you may not think about is septic system versus sewer. Before looking at areas and falling in love with a property, ask whether the homes are on a sewer line or if they have individual septic tanks. If you are looking at homes with septic tanks, here are some things you should know.
Unlike sewers or a community septic system, an individual septic tank (often found in more rural areas) is not normally provided by your local council. This means it’s the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain and care for it. What does this entail? You may want to have the tank inspected each year. The inspector will check the system for leaks, inspect the scum and sludge levels, check the effluent screens, inspect the mechanical and electrical components, and more. Also, the septic tank will need to be pumped every three to five years.
Before you start worrying too much about the cost of an annual inspection and services to pump the tank, remember – with a sewer service or community septic system, you are – in effect – paying for this through your local council rates. But if you’re considering buying a property in an unsewered area, it’s a good idea to ask the seller how often they have the tank pumped and what the average cost is, so you can factor the cost into the budget for the home.
Since the septic tank is yours, you have final say when to have inspections or when to have it pumped. However, it’s best to stay on a regular schedule to avoid small problems becoming bigger, expensive ones. An inspection can see a small problem that is simple to repair, but if left unchecked, it can balloon to a large problem. If the septic tank has a leak, it can flood the leach field. If the leach field becomes flooded, sewage can come to the surface or even back up into the house to the bathtub or sink. Now you don’t only have a big, expensive problem to fix, but a smelly, dirty, unhygienic one! But don’t worry. Annual inspections and pumping every three to five years should help prevent these big problems. Also, remember that everything that is flushed or goes down drains will go into the tank, so be mindful of what passes through. With these precautions, your septic tank should function well and avoid major problems.
So, if you find a home you love and it has a septic system, we say go for it! Do you have questions about the care of the septic system? Do you need a system installed at your new home? We’ll be happy to help! Please call us on 8444 8100 or visit the septic tank section of our website.