How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Should I buy a house with a septic tank?

Monday, May 24, 2021

Deciding whether or not to buy a house with a septic system is, at least partially, a lifestyle choice. Houses in more developed and urban areas are connected to a sewer, usually with minimal distance between you and the neighbors. As you move away from civilization, homes at the outer edge of suburbia offer larger lots and still have municipal water service, but require a septic tank in the yard. Even further out, rural homes on acreage need both a well and septic tank. 

   So, if you are considering a house with a septic system, you're probably yearning to live a little outside of town and on more land. Here’s a few of the pros and cons of septic vs. sewer:

Septic Pros
•• Requires no energy. Effluent drains by gravity to tank (unless the drain from house runs uphill and requires a grinder pump), and anaerobic bacteria in the tank do all the work of breaking down the organic material.
•• No sewer bills to pay.

Septic Cons
•• Tank must be pumped every five years or so. If you wait too long, backups are not pretty.
•• Requires replacement periodically. Lifespan of a septic system is averages about 30 to 40 years, but tank and drainfield can be replaced separately.
•• You must be careful what you put down the drain. Excessive grease or chemicals cause problems. Using a kitchen sink disposal is not recommended.

Sewer Pros
•• No maintenance required.
•• Very dependable, with virtually no downtime.

Sewer Cons
•• Monthly sewer bills. 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

To learn more about septic systems, go to some of our other articles:

• What is the average life expectancy of a septic tank system?

• What can I add to my septic tank to help it work better? 

• What are the signs of a full septic tank? 

• Why do septic tank contractors want you to get rid of your kitchen disposal?

• How can I tell if a house is connected to a septic tank system or sewer?

• How can I locate my septic tank?

• Does a septic tank have to be re-certified if a house has been vacant for a while?

• What is a grinder pump? 

• How often should I pump out the septic tank?

• Should I call a plumber or septic tank contractor when my septic tank backs up into the house? 

• Do I have to get a larger septic tank when I build a home addition?

• Where is the septic tank? Are you going to inspect it? 

• Can a house have more than one septic tank?

• Is it alright to disconnect the washing machine drain from the septic tank and divert it to the ground in the yard?  

Does a home inspector check the septic tank system?

How far away does a well need to be from a septic system in Florida? 

How do you abandon a septic tank?

• How close can you build a home addition to a septic tank system in Florida?

 Can you build a deck or patio over a septic tank in Florida?

• What is a septic loading dye test?

• What is the average life expectancy of a sewage grinder pump?

Visit our “SHOULD I BUY A …” and WELLS and PLUMBING pages for other related articles, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

Signs Of..."

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests



When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes


Shingle Roofs




Wind Mitigation

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home


Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."




Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs


Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants


Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile-Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil





Exterior Walls

& Structures


Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers



Doors and Windows



Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps


Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size


Electrical Switches





Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete


Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

About McGarry and Madsen



Buying a home in North/Central Florida? Check our price for a  team inspection by two FL-licensed contractors and inspectors. Over 8,500 inspections completed in 20+ years. In a hurry? We will get it done for you.

Moisture Problems

Crawl Spaces