7 Questions A Home Buyer Should Ask About A Septic System

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Published: April 25, 2017 Last Updated: April 28, 2018

Septic systems generally perform well; however, there are a few things that would be good to know about a septic system before you own the property. Here are suggested questions to ask, some are informational only, but a few of them could save you thousands of dollars.

Can you answer the following questions?

Where is the septic tank located?

You may need this information when you have the tank inspected or worked on. Additionally, if you’re thinking about adding an addition to the home; will the tank need to be moved.

Where is the tank lid or riser access to the tank?

Good to know when you want to have the tank pumped or to preform maintenance.

Is there room for a secondary leach field should the existing one fail?

Note that if there was a permit and plans, the plans will normally show the future secondary field. The local building department or health department may have a copy of the plans. Having room for a second leach field is important, should the existing leach field fail.

Where is the filter access located?

Not all tanks have a filter, but if so, knowing where it is will be helpful when you wish to check it or clean it.

If leach field is a chamber type – then ask if there is an inspection port and where?

Leach fields that are constructed with a chamber type of leach lines may have an inspection port. A inspection port allows you to monitor and check the water level in the leach field lines.


Was a permit obtained when the system was installed?

If the seller doesn’t know, the local building department or health department may be able to answer the question. They may also have drawings of the tank and leach field location.

How old is the septic system: the tank, the leach field and the filter?

This helps you to determine if should anticipate future expenses for repair, maintenance or replacement.

When was the last time the septic tank was pumped?

Also, how often was it pumped out the tank. Did they go 10 years between pumping? Knowing when and how often helps determining how the system may be functioning or demonstrate lack of good maintenance.

What company last pumped out the tank?

With this information, you will be able to call them to pump the tank for you should you want and ask questions about the system.

Has the tank every leaked, been repaired or the leach field fail?

If so – who, what, when, where, etc. are good questions. These type of questions may provide additional information on the septic systems condition.

Are there any wells near the tank or leach field, if so where?

Systems that are too near a well can cause water contamination under certain circumstances. Having the well water tested will help answer if there is any cause of concern.

Has the home had additional bedrooms added or an addition put onto the home?

The sizing of a septic tank is often determined by the number of bedrooms that a home has. Generally the more bedrooms, the more people who occupy a home. Therefore, there is more human waste and water that is going into the septic tank. Homes that have added one or more bedrooms may now have an undersized septic system. When the system is undersized, then the system may fail.

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Is it the responsibility of the seller to have the septic tank pumped before closing date

Are the homeowners responsible to pump out septic tank before the closing deal

We are in the process of buying a cottage. We’ve been told that the leach field has been replaced in 2016. Should we be at ease or on alert?

What floor cleaner can I use that won’t harm septic system by flushing dirty mop water down toilet. Pine Sol Lysol ect

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x