Real Estate

The Importance of Getting a Septic System Inspection before Buying a Home

Before closing on any home purchase, it is vitally important to obtain a Septic System Inspection report. This will provide information regarding whether the tank needs pumping and when its last inspection occurred.

An inspection and emptying should take place every three to five years depending on family size.

1. Health Issues

Homeowners should incorporate a septic system inspection as part of a general property inspection to reduce the chances of any delays in closing negotiations due to issues related to their septic systems.

Failure of a septic inspection allows untreated sewage to escape into groundwater or marine waterways and pollute it with pathogens that could make humans and animals sick, as well as contaminate soil, making it unsafe for farming, drinking, swimming and shellfish harvesting.

An inspector conducting a visual inspection will inspect the age and condition of a septic tank before searching for signs of problems, including inlet and outlet baffles being blocked off – potentially leading to costly repairs for home owners.

2. Damaged Pipework

Crushed or broken pipe can be one of the costliest issues associated with their septic system, especially if heavy vehicles drive directly over it or when plant roots clog its pipes.

Visual inspection of septic tanks involves looking for evidence of recent pumping, regular service and maintenance records, flushing toilets and running water to see how well everything drains, checking drain field areas for any sewage odors or soggy spots, as well as checking any drain field areas for signs of sogginess or stagnant areas.

Septic tanks and drain fields typically last between 25-50 years with proper care taken to keep the system in top shape. A professional home inspector will make sure this happens, providing full reports to potential buyers about its condition and functionality.

3. Damaged Septic Tank

Home inspectors usually conduct a visual inspection of septic systems. This typically includes checking their age and maintenance history as well as flushing toilets and running water to test whether everything is operating as it should. They will also check drain fields to look for standing water that could indicate cesspool formation.

Septic tanks can be constructed of steel, polyethylene or concrete. Over time they may become damaged from shifting ground conditions, tree roots or wall cracking and the costs for replacing can easily reach into the thousands of dollars.

Septic tank lids are typically constructed of thick concrete, making them difficult to open easily. If they become cracked or broken, wastewater could leak out of them into a cesspool-like environment – thus further underscoring why a thorough septic system inspection is so essential.

4. High Water Bills

Poorly maintained septic systems can quickly lead to costly water bills. To stay ahead of this problem, get regular inspections done of your septic tank; this should ideally coincide with general property inspections.

An inspection of your septic system can provide valuable information about its condition, such as its age and frequency of pumping. Furthermore, this inspection can highlight any potential issues which need to be resolved prior to moving in.

Most home inspectors aren’t experts when it comes to septic systems; therefore, a visual inspection does not give a full picture. To get an accurate readout on tank and drain field areas, however, a more in-depth hands-on inspection must take place.

5. Decreased Home Value

Septic systems are most efficient when they’re properly maintained, which includes regular inspections and pumping. If you purchase a home reliant on this form of waste disposal and fail to get an inspection, this could cost significantly more in repairs later.

Realtors should inquire of the seller about the history and status of the septic tank system. Inquire if it has been emptied recently, maintenance records exist and if the system meets health and safety requirements.


Mortgage companies frequently mandate that septic system inspections occur before deed transfers are finalized, with Williams suggesting that typically the seller covers this cost, although negotiations may occur to make this agreement. She advises septic professionals be certified as inspectors with insurance to protect both parties involved in these processes.

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