Your Next House Has A Septic Tank
Are You Thinking About Buying a House with a Septic Tank?
Six Questions to Ask the Seller
You have found your ideal property and the sale leaflet mentions, probably in the last paragraph, that the property benefits from off-mains drainage. Here’s a few questions to ask the vendor to help avoid problems in the future.
1. Does the vendor own the land that contains the septic tank and soakaway? If the answer is yes, go to question 2. If the answer is no, then ask to see the operating agreement with the landowner. This should make clear that the vendor is responsible for the operation, maintenance and safety of the septic tank and its drainage system/soak away. It should also contain rights of access to the land for routine inspection and maintenance. If there is no operating agreement, then you could well have problems in the future.
2. Is the system shared with other households? If so, ask if there is an agreement to share maintenance costs.
3. Does the septic tank drain into a watercourse? If it does, then the tank will need to be replaced with a small treatment plant on the point of sale or not later than Jan 2020. It will be an expensive item.
4. Is there a maintenance record for the tank? You want to see evidence of regular maintenance, for example, routine de-sludging or, if it’s a treatment plant, regular service visits. If the answer is yes, then all is good. Any other answer will need to be investigated.
5.Does the tank only take waste from the bathrooms, toilets and kitchen? Septic tanks and treatment plants are not designed to treat rainwater. Any surface water or rain from the roof gutters should be directed away from the septic tank. It costs money to separate these systems.
6.Is the tank big enough? If it's an old house you ought to check whether the tank is big enough for a modern family's needs A four bedroom house should have a tank with a working capacity of at least 3000 litres. Many older properties have much smaller tanks, especially if they haven't been modernised. Septic tanks are really only settling chambers and need as long a residence time as possible to work effectively. If the tank is small and you increase the number of people using the tank, then it’s possible to flush solids out of the tank and into the soak away.
If you get positive answers to these questions then it’s likely that the tank has been well managed and maintained and will probably continue to give years of trouble free, low cost service. If, however, some of the answers have raised doubts in your mind then you might want to consider having the system inspected for peace of mind. We can help with this. You can call us on 01900 870140 for advice at any time.