How can I tell if a house is connected to a septic tank system or sewer?
Friday, July 6, 2018
It’s important to know for sure where everything goes when you flush the toilet in a house you are considering buying. The realtor or seller will usually provide you with a clear answer but, if their description is a little hazy or the home is a foreclosure and only limited information is available, here’s a few tips on how to figure it out yourself:
•• When the water is supplied from a well, you definitely have a septic system. Older rural houses may have a cesspit, which is essentially a septic tank that leaches directly into the ground without a drainfield. They have not been approved for new homes for many years.
•• Get a recent utility bill to see if there is a charge for wastewater treatment. If not, then you have a septic system. However the wastewater billing does not automatically mean the house is connected to a sewer. When the city runs a sanitary sewer system through a neighborhood, everyone gets charged for it. Most districts require all houses to be connected to the system at completion, but some jurisdictions grant a reprieve for stubborn homeowners to keep their old septic system, although still charging them for the infrastructure. A call to customer service at the utility will clarify it.
•• Contact your local building department or health department. There is usually a record of the permits necessary to either install a septic system or connect to a sewer system. A site plan or diagram if often in the file, locating the tank and drainfield of a septic system in relation to the house.
•• If you know the house has a septic system but have no information on its location, we suggest calling a septic tank contractor for an inspection. They will locate the tank and drainfield, pump out the tank, examine the empty tank for defects, and provide you with a brief report on their findings. This service costs between $300 and $400 in our area.
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To learn more about SEPTIC TANK SYSTEMS, see these other blog posts:
How To Look At A House
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