As a first time home buyer, there are a lot of things that you need to figure out. If you are considering buying a home that is not connected to a city water source and instead has its own septic system, add learning about septic tanks to your list. Here are three things you need to understand about septic tanks before you purchase a home with one.
#1 Septic Tanks Require Regular Maintenance
The first thing that you need to understands about septic tanks is that they are not maintenance-free systems. If you treat your septic system correctly, you can reduce the necessary maintenance, but there is always going to be a long-term cost associated with owning a septic tank.
Depending on the size of your septic tank and if you use a garbage disposal or not, you should expect to pay to have your septic tank pumped every one to three years. A garbage disposal increases the amount of items that cannot decompose in your septic tank and thus speeds up how often your septic tank will need cleaned.
You may be able to extend that time-table based on your waste output and size of your septic tank, but it is an expense you should be prepared to pay for every couple of years.
In addition to pumping the septic tank, you will also be responsible for any repairs that your septic tank may need over the years as your system ages.
#2 You Have To Be Careful About What You Put Down Your Drains
When you have a septic tank, you can't just flush anything that you want down your drains. You have to be careful what you put down your drains if you want to preserve the ecosystem inside of your septic tank that breaks down the waste that is inside of it.
There are a number of common household items that either don't break down well inside of septic tanks and clog them up, or that mess with the chemical balance of the septic tank. This means you are going to have to be more conscious of what goes down your drains.
For example, when you have a septic tank, you want to avoid putting things that don't break down well down your drains or your toilet, such as: paper towels, napkins, tissues, q-tips, cotton swabs, tampons, pads, vegetable peels, fruit peels and meat scraps. All of these items will just sit on the top of your septic tank, slowly filling it up with material that can't be broken down.
Additionally, most household cleaners contain chemicals that can mess with the unique eco-system that exists within your septic tank that allows it to break down waste.
#3 You Have To Be Careful Around The Drainage Field
Finally, all septic tanks also have drainage fields. The drainage field is where the water and waste that is broken down and filtered out of your septic tank goes. This field has to be properly maintained in order for your entire septic system to work properly.
Generally, you should not park or do any activity that will compact the dirt in this area as that can compromise the functionality of the drainage field. You should also not plant anything with a deep root system near your septic tank or drainage field. Plants with long roots, such as trees, may seek water and nutrients from your septic system and cause expensive damage to your system.
You need to plan on the area where the drainage field is located as being almost a no-man's land where you only grow grass or other short rooted plants and avoid soil compacting activities.
Make sure that you understand both the cost of having a septic tank and the lifestyle adjustments you will have to make by having a septic tank. Talk to a professional, such as Elliott's Septic Service, for more information.