If you’re a first time home buyer in the current housing market, you already know the landscape is wild, unexpected, and difficult to navigate. But, for the record, first-time buyers aren’t the only ones finding themselves bewildered by the process; even seasoned real estate pros are scrambling to understand a historically complicated housing market.
The explosion of the market combined with the significant uptick in remote work means that, for many prospective new buyers, checking out of city life is the best option. Prices decrease the farther you remove your search from larger cities, but privacy and the amount of land you can buy for your money increases. Looking for a slower, less expensive life in a more rural setting is a big change, and so is wrapping your head around things like wells and septic systems.
What is a Septic System?
First time home buyer or not, knowing the in’s and outs of a septic system is important! Inside municipal grids, things like centralized sewer systems are the norm. Homes are hooked to sewer pipes maintained by the city or town; waste is swept away to be managed elsewhere. However, in more rural areas, many homeowners find themselves equipped with a septic system and self-contained waste management located on their own property. Septic systems consist primarily of a holding tank and a leach field, which work together to break down liquid waste.
Your septic tank is a water-tight container buried underground that holds wastewater until it separates, with solids falling to the bottom and oils, grease, and fats rising to the top. The liquid is then diverted to a distribution box, releasing liquid waste into the drain field, where it is naturally filtered. In the end, harmful microbes that cause illness, like bacteria and viruses, are removed due to percolation through the soil.
Your septic tank doesn’t require much thought when everything is working smoothly. However, it should be inspected every three to five years by a qualified inspector to make sure all pumping and maintenance records are in order. The inspector will also look for any signs of leakage, backup, or damage to the system and ensure the holding tank isn’t filled with solid waste.
How a First Time Home Buyer Should Care for a Septic System
While there are some complex things behind the scenes, if you follow some common-sense daily guidelines, first time home buyers will likely find owning a home with a septic system quite simple.
Because oils, fats, and greases rise to the top of your tank and can create clogs, it’s vital to minimize the amount that is poured into your drains. This means never pouring cooking grease down the drain, for instance, and disposing of greasy food scraps anywhere but a garbage disposal.
Also, because they do not break down and will eventually fill a holding tank to the point of causing septic backups, do not flush things like feminine hygiene products, diapers and cigarette butts down a toilet. In fact, the best practice is never to flush anything besides waste and septic-safe toilet paper.
Your holding tank works because it is a little ecosystem containing necessary bacteria and other microbes which break down solid waste and help it disperse. Disturbing that delicate balance by pouring large amounts of disinfectant down the drain or using bleach tablets in toilet tanks to minimize cleaning can be detrimental to the entire system.
While there is a basic foundation of what a septic system consists of, they can all have differences. The best way to get to know your system is to work with a seasoned professional who can answer all your questions, give you the information you need to keep your septic system running, and manage routine inspections. If you’re a first time home buyer of a home with a septic system, Sunset Septic can help.