Septic issues coming up during home buying process

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-01-11, 07:52 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Septic issues coming up during home buying process

Septic
1: Type of septic system you have. 1.Conventional with field lines.

2: Tank size, if known. 1500 gallons

3: Number of tanks, if known. 1

4: Type of pump. (If applicable) (unknown)

5: Number of buildings attached to system. 1 building, 4 bedroom home with in-law

___________

Home built in 1987 (build with in-law).

Had our offer accepted on a home in Connecticut. Had the inspection, and called in a separate septic inspector.

The home has been basically unoccupied for several months (except for occasional use by the residents).... Luckily, the septic inspector I called in was the owner of the company who has been pumping their system for the last 15 years.

The first thing he did was come up to us and tell us that he's been at the house "quite often". He returns to his truck, calls his secretary, and comes back with paperwork showing that he has been at the house every 6 months starting in 2001 (up until they moved). He also says that when they came, there was evidence of water visible on the ground soil. The inspector said the system would have passed the test since it has been hot and dry here, and the home has not been in use. (It did pass).

The seller claims that they had 9 people there, so they had the tank pumped every 6 months to take proper care of it. They also claim they were not aware septic water pooled in the yard.

They've agreed to an independent inspection, where an inspector of my choice comes in and takes soil samples, digs up around the system, inspects the various components, etc. (they'll pay for it).

I'm really nervous about this whole process at this point. The house is the only one in our area that fits our needs (larger in-law apartment,etc). However, it is near the top of our price range and we could not afford an immediate septic replacement.

Any thoughts on this inspection process of digging up the system and examining it? I guess I'm not sure how to proceed since I have very little knowledge of these systems. Obviously it's my decision, but I'm even concerned about what to do if digging the system up doesn't find any issues! (ugh)

Plus, of course this is all being done on a very quick schedule... At this point, I'll take any and all advice.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-01-11, 08:19 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,962
Received 37 Votes on 32 Posts
Hi,

Let them inspect it if they are paying for it. Digging around will tell but the real issue is its 1987 oringinal septic? It may be past its life expectancy. But it depends on how abused it was.

Yes it may have pooled with 9 people and he did the right thing pumping it every 6 months if thats the reason. May have needed it more often, like monthly.

What may of happened is the field gets water locked. If its waterlocked long enough it kills all the biomat/ bacteria and the field stops working. Plus if solids got out to the field because of the high water use the field can be plugged.

I have seen brand new septics fail in 6 months because of the above.

Only a year of no use will restore it to like new, but only if its mechanically sound.

What I would do?

1. Find out if the tank is sound. All the walls are good, baffles, whatever.... The tank you dont need to replace normally. Its the field that fails.
2. Ask the guy you had what it will cost for a new field. The field should be no more then $5000.
3. Ask the seller to take this off the price of the house, or pay closing costs if its around the same.


Now make sure the money you save you have a new field put in. And try to keep the exisiting feild.

Because if you have the room the best thing you can do is put a field in next to that one. Install a bull run valve that lets you alternate between the two. Run the new field for three yrs while the old one restores itself. Then alternate yearly between the two. It should be the last time you spend money on the septic except for pumping every couple of yrs. Ask your guy. He will know what I am talking about.

Hope this helps.

Mike NJ
 
  #3  
Old 08-02-11, 04:31 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 21,423
Received 299 Votes on 273 Posts
Like Lawrosa mentioned I would definitely have it inspected. It will make a mess of the lawn but it's the only way you will get an idea of what you have.

My gut feeling is that the previous owners were not paying to have the tank pumped as a preventative measure. It costs several hundred dollars to have a tank pumped so nobody does that twice a year without a reason.
 
  #4  
Old 08-02-11, 07:18 AM
Vey
Vey is offline
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mid-Florida
Posts: 1,347
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Isn't there (by now) a way to check the pipes or something to see how much solids are in there? Poking around and guessing is inexpensive on the front end, but too many sellers still don't "fully disclose" what they know.
 
  #5  
Old 08-02-11, 07:51 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 21,423
Received 299 Votes on 273 Posts
Solids in the septic tank are easy to see and remove. The problem is that older systems did not have filters on the output so improper things (garbage, condoms, grease & oil) could pass through the tank and out into the leach field. A camera can be run in some of the piping to look for a collapsed pipe or a physical blockage like tree roots but it can't tell the condition of the leach field outside the drain pipes.

I would also research how the house was originally permitted. Was it built and approved as a 4 bedroom with in-law suite or was the house originally a 3br with the suite added later. That would help you determine if the system is undersized for the current size of the house. I would also verify that there is enough property that perks that could be used for a repair field. Many old systems were approved only allowing for the one leach field leaving no room for a repair area. This would only leave some rather expensive options like a engineered system, tying into city sewer (if that's even a possibility) or abandonment.
 
  #6  
Old 08-02-11, 08:55 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
First, thank you so much for all of your help. I'm trying to learn about this stuff, but the short turn around time for this process is making it difficult, so help on what questions to ask and what to be concerned about is incredible!

I'm making a list of questions to ask based on all of your advice. I'll come back and let you know how it went... I'm also inquiring about pro-sept warranty for 3 years. I'm reviewing the paperwork now to see what that covers and what the exceptions are. It's basically a 3 year $25k warranty at around 600 if it passes inspection. Anyone familiar with that?

(btw, the house was built with the in-law at the same time).
 
  #7  
Old 08-02-11, 12:52 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Quick followup....

Interestingly enough, the well water results came back as not safe for drinking due to coliform bacteria. The well is in back of the house, the septic in front.

I sent those right over to the sellers agent since they have 2 people living there currently...
 
  #8  
Old 08-02-11, 01:02 PM
lawrosa's Avatar
Super Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Galivants Ferry SC USA
Posts: 17,962
Received 37 Votes on 32 Posts
Hmm... The well can be disinfected but they need to determine if its from run off. Is it a shallow well? Either a new well needs to be dug deeper or find the source of contamination. Well head seal? Casing compromised?

You can take off the cost of the house upwards of 10 K for that. But again the money you are saving is something your going to have to use to correct the problem. Its not really money in your pocket.

Mike NJ
 
  #9  
Old 08-06-11, 12:57 PM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Lake Wales, FL
Posts: 463
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Septic tank and drain field.

Septic tanks and drain fields have a minimum size for four people.
Larger homes for more people have larger tanks and drain fields.
If more people have been using the system than it was designed for then it could not cope.
That does not mean that, if your family fits the designed size, it will not work for you.
Check out, has the home been extended?
Were more people using the system than it was designed for?
What size tank was installed and for how many people.
 
  #10  
Old 08-06-11, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,130
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Is hooking up to a public sanitary sewer line possible?

If so, it will be more positive without the unknowns and troubles down the road. After living in CT, I know the problems with ledge rock and the localized pollution that can be trapped and accumulated even with a good system.

Dick
 
  #11  
Old 08-23-11, 12:37 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Updates!

No local sewer or well hookup is possible.

The second inspector came in and determined that the septic was the wrong system for the type of soil / ground. The homeowner has agreed to replace.

The well issues have been taken care of according to code.

Allow me to say: YAY!

Anyway, thanks for the advice all - the septic work hasn't been done yet, but we are back on track to close in mid-September it seems.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: