June 26, 2023

Why have a septic tank inspected?

You’ve finally found a house in the country where you can live in peace and quiet. However, there is one problem … there is no access to municipal water and sewer services. On the other hand, the property of your dreams does come equipped with an artesian well and septic tank. In this article, you will learn, not only about the importance of having the septic tank inspected before buying a home but also what you should check for. You will then be able to understand your responsibilities in regard to this system.

What are artesian wells and septic tanks used for?

An artesian well is used to draw drinking water from deep underground. There are two important points to have checked: the water quality and if there is sufficient pressure to meet the needs of the occupants. To protect yourself, consult an inspector who holds OCaRE certification (Certificat en captage et réseau élémentaires d’eau potable ). The inspector will conduct the necessary analyses and ensure that the water is not contaminated[1].

The septic tank, on the other hand, is used to receive and hold the wastewater and organic waste. The waste is broken down using a pump, then the waste water is redirected to a drain field for further treatment. It then ends up in the receiving soil hidden in the ground.

Good to know: the number of bedrooms and occupants determines the minimum volume of the septic tank[2]. It may be the case that while it was suitable for the previous owners, it may not meet the needs of your family.

5 points to check when inspecting a septic tank

The Government of Quebec requires every homeowner to have their septic tank emptied every two to five years[3]. However, this recommendation may vary depending on your geographic location. Here are five points to check:

1. Age of the septic system

When properly maintained, a septic tank has an average lifespan of about 25 years[4]. When it comes time to replace it, it could cost you between $10,000 and $30,000. So, if you know the year of installation, you can plan your budget accordingly.

2. Soil type

Some soil types are better than others for treating wastewater. For this reason, it is recommended to have soil and percolation testing performed before its installation[5].

3. Odour problems

Did you detect a somewhat unpleasant smell during your visit? Ask the homeowner at once about its source. If in doubt, ask for a water quality test to be carried out. This will protect you from harmful bacterial pathogens.

4. Wastewater overflows and backups

Bacteria in the septic tank and receiving soil help break down organic waste and treat wastewater before it reaches the groundwater. However, if the drain field is saturated, it could flood and redirect water to the surface, or even back up into the system and your home. It’s recommended to have it periodically pumped out to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

5. Maintenance log

When you have your future property inspected, ask to see the septic tank maintenance log. Ideally, this should include the pump-out history, the location of the drain field, and any past problem[6]. This will help you know the actual condition of the system.

All in all, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a qualified building inspector who will thoroughly check for issues. Also, find out which household products are safe to use in order to maximize the life of your septic system.


See also:

Use a Counter-Proposal to Negotiate the Sale of Your House

Quebecers surveyed on the environmental impact of their residence

15 Questions to Ask When Visiting a House

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