Should I stay away from septic systems?

5 Replies

Looking at a property that has a septic system.

Is this something that I want to stay away from?

Or, as long as the inspection checks out, is it something that is easily managed and won't cause a lot of headache in the future?

Thanks, Chris

@Chris Stromdahl,

I have several homes with septic systems. You will have to have them pumped about every 5-7 years normally. Most tenants don't know how to keep them maintained. You have to teach them that, especially if they have never lived with one before. Grease down the drain in a big no-no amongst other things that can clog them up. If you do have problems, it can be costly. New ones in my area generally run about $10K to replace. Just keep those things in mind. I try to get a good enough deal that if i have to replace one, it doesn't hurt so much. I hope this helps you.

Happy Investing!

I'm in the city so I don't know too too much about them but my suggestion is if they are common in your area you probably want to learn about them and get comfortable with them. There are alot of homes in some areas with them so you may be shooting yourself in the foot by staying away from them.


Like most things, a septic system will work as well as it's treated. It has a capacity and is designed for a maximum use. Typically the number of bedrooms or drainage fixture units (DFU), "water flow".

The following was found in a google search:

When septic systems are properly designed, constructed, and maintained, they effectively reduce or eliminate most human health or environmental threats posed by pollutants in household wastewater. However, they require regular maintenance or they can fail. Septic systems need to be monitored to ensure that they work properly throughout their service lives. A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value and could pose a legal liability. You should have a typical septic system inspected at least every 3 years by a professional and your tank pumped as recommended by the inspector, generally every 3 to 5 years.

Four major factors influence the frequency of pumping: the number of people in your household, the amount of wastewater generated (based on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used), the volume of solids in the wastewater (for example, using a garbage disposal increases the amount of solids), and septic tank size.

Watch your drains:  What goes down the drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works.
Waste disposal:  What shouldn’t you flush down your toilet? Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and bathroom items that can clog and potentially damage septic system components if they become trapped. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system or might contaminate surface waters and groundwater. If your septic tank pumper is concerned about quickly accumulating scum layers, reduce the flow of floatable materials like fats, oils, and grease into your tank or be prepared to pay for more frequent inspections and pumping.
Washing machines:  By selecting the proper load size, you’ll reduce water waste. Washing small loads of laundry on the large-load cycle wastes precious water and energy. If you can’t select load size, run only full loads of laundry.
Doing all the household laundry in one day might seem like a time-saver, but it could be harmful to your septic system. Doing load after load does not allow your septic tank time to adequately treat wastes. You could be flooding your drainfield without allowing sufficient recovery time. Try to spread water usage throughout the week. A new Energy Star clothes washer uses 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than a standard model.


@Chris Stromdahl  Is it going to be a rental or a flip? I wouldn't worry about it too much either way, but if its a flip and it seems to be functioning now, I would not worry about it at all.

@Terry Hershberger  @Chris K.  @Tom Reynolds  

Thank you very much for your responses. Each of them was of great value and made me think about factors I had not considered.

  • Negotiating the purchase price.
  • Becoming familiar with septic systems. I have seen a significant amount of them in my current area of focus.
  • The septic process.

Take care, Chris

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