In this episode of Real 101: The Home Buying & Selling Show, Home Inspector Consultant Allan Spisak of ACISS is joined by Manager Property Services at ESSE Canada Jason Berry to discuss septic systems in rural properties.
What are Septic Systems?
Septic systems are mainly used in rural areas, outside of cities. This is because rural properties rarely have access to municipal service. It can be used on farms, cottages or lots outside of the municipal boundary.
An on-site septic system (or an on-site wastewater treatment system) consists of two main parts:
- Septic tank
- Leaching field
A septic tank serves to provide sufficient capacity and retention time for solids, ensuring that they can settle out and separate from the liquids. Once separated, the solids remain in the septic tank and are broken down by anaerobic bacteria. At the same time, the liquids (called effluent) leave the tank and enter the other part of the septic system – the Leaching Field.
The Leaching Field itself consists of a manifold of underground pipes. These pipes are further surrounded by a stone and/or sand layer that allows the liquid portion to drain from the pipes, into the underlying soil. Once in the soil, the oxygen and the anaerobic bacteria break down the liquid waste.
As it moves through the soil profile, the waste is eventually treated to a point where it can be recycled into the groundwater table and used anew for drinking, showering and other purposes.
Should Home Owner Inspect Their Septic Systems?
Like any other system in a building, a septic system also has a certain life expectancy and should be regularly inspected by a professional. During its life time, the system will require ongoing maintenance and will eventually have to be replaced. Normally, a standard septic system has a life expectancy between 35 and 45 years, provided it is regularly maintained.
What Does a Septic System Inspection Involve?
The home inspector begins his assessment of the septic system by getting a history on the property from the owner or the real estate agent. This allows the inspector to get important information about the system, such as its location and any repairs or upgrades done on it.
Next, the inspector evaluates the structural integrity of the system by exposing the tank lids. This also shows how high the liquid level will be in the tank and the presence of inlet and outlet baffles.
If the septic system needs to be replaced, the cost of the new one depends on a number of factors. Usually, the cost can be between 25 and 45 thousand dollars.
A malfunctioning system can be a big headache for the owner. Because of this, it is crucial, especially for those buying rural properties, to get a septic system inspection before negotiating any other terms with the seller.
Watch this episode to learn more about septic systems.
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