The plumbing of your house is made up of several individual systems that work to remove and bring water into the house. For some homeowners, one of these systems is an on-site septic system responsible for the filtration and disbursement of wastewater. These in-ground systems are environmentally friendly, as they cleanse and filter the water used in your home and introduce it back into the ground in a natural cycle.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one out of four American homes relies an on-site septic system. Rural homes, because of location and distance apart from each other, often host one of these underground systems. Urban homes are often connected to the public sewer system, eliminating common concerns and maintenance needs of an on-site septic system. Inspections Unlimited clients can refer to their home inspection report for details on their property’s current sewer and drainage situation.
A home's septic system is typically built to include four major components: the pipe, septic tank, drainfeild, and the soil. Though there are other designs and systems out there. From the home, the pipe carries wastewater to the septic tank. The septic tank is an underground tank that is usually built from concrete, fiberglass, or a similar material. Septic tanks do not “treat” wastewater, but help to separate the solids and liquids pumped from the home. After separation, solids and sludge sink to the bottom, while water is allowed to flow to the next part of the filtering process: the drainfeild. The drainfeild an expansion of channels and pipes that the water is pushed through in the next cycle of the cleaning process. From there, water percolates into the soil.
If your home's plumbing system does include an on-site septic system, it is incredibly important to be aware of the signs of possible damage, along with the maintenance needed to prevent it. A damaged or clogged septic system can be costly to repair. It can also impose possible health risks for homeowners, tenants and neighbors. A failing septic system could be responsible for releasing wastewater and harmful bacteria and viruses, including E. coli.
But what are some of the common signs your home’s septic system might be malfunctioning? A clogged or overflowing septic tank might result in soggy, wet soil near the site. Also keep an eye out for pooling “gray water” that might be visible in the yard or grass above or around the tank area or leach field. Homeowners often report a strong waste odor outside. You might also find clues inside, such as clogging or backed up drains, which might be the result of a clogged sewage line, a full septic tank, or similar issue.
Properly maintaining your home's plumbing and septic system is an important step in caring for your property. Just like inspecting your home, taking a close look at the plumbing and septic system should become a routine step in home maintenance. It is suggested that a professional evaluate your septic system at least every 3 years. In addition, septic tanks should be pumped and cleaned every 3-5 years, or more frequently if heavy use dictates.
One important step you can take in preserving the life of your home’s septic system is efficient water usage. This can also help lower water bills and helps to keep other components of your home’s plumbing system in working order. Use water wisely – do not leave faucets running, ensure the proper water flow from your well, etc. Homeowners should also keep an eye out for leaking pipes, faucets or other plumbing issues.
Since a complete home inspection with Inspections Unlimited includes a close look at your home's plumbing, a Inspections Unlimited professional can assist in the search for problems or issues that might put your plumbing and septic system at risk. Maintaining your system can help you to identify problems early, which can mean saving money by fixing a problem before it gets worse. Ensuring your septic system is in good condition also means protecting the environment and your family's health from the risk of a leaking sewage drain or septic tank