Buying a new home is an exciting — and sometimes stressful — rite of passage, especially in today’s housing market. But if the home you’re buying comes with its own septic system, you should have all the information in hand before you put down an offer.

Take a look below. We’ll go into detail about the unique facts of a septic system you should keep in mind before deciding on a property that uses this wastewater treatment method.

Septic Systems Typically Contain Four Main Components

While a traditional plumbing system uses indoor and underground pipes to move water in and waste out of a home, septic systems are composed of the septic tank, a drainfield, soil, and pipes that lead from the house.

The pipes that connect your home to the septic tank work like common drain or waste removal pipes. Used water from showers, sinks, water-based appliances, and toilets flows through these pipes and into the septic tank. The septic tank then houses that wastewater so solid particles settle to the bottom and form a sludge that will decompose over time. The remaining wastewater flows through screens and empties into the drainfield, which the soil covers. The soil then continues filtering the wastewater of viruses and bacteria.

However, regular soil isn’t sufficient for filtering wastewater in the drainfield — you must use specialized soil in the drainfield for this process to work effectively.

Septic Systems Positively Impact the Environment

When you use and treat your septic system correctly, you can actually make your home more eco-friendly. Homes usually produce a lot of waste, and that waste can emit disease-causing bacteria and other environmental pollutants such as phosphorus and nitrogen. But using your system correctly — and maintaining it properly — ensures these harmful contaminants don’t sully the surrounding land and environment.

These efforts can have a huge impact over time. According to the EPA, a quarter of homes in the United States use septic systems, and those systems return around 4 billion gallons of water daily to the water table. As you use your system and ensure your drainfield adequately filters water from your home, you can protect your area’s limited water supply for those within your community.

Septic Systems Require Frequent Inspection

To ensure your system works correctly, have it professionally inspected and cared for. Specifically, you should schedule septic pumping every two years or so, depending on your household’s size. And if you notice any issues around the drainfield or problems with water waste disposal within your home, you may need to schedule service more frequently.

Septic systems need professional care no matter the issue that’s arisen, and you should never try to maintain or repair them on your own. Entering an empty septic tank can put your well-being at risk by exposing you to viruses, bacteria, and harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, and methane. Professionals are fully trained and equipped to inspect and work with septic systems, so relying on these capable experts ensures your safety and helps your septic system continue to work effectively.

Septic Systems Need To Be Replaced Occasionally

Like most plumbing-related home features, septic systems won’t last forever. In fact, they’ll last around 30 years if you’re lucky, with the average septic tank system having a lifespan of 20 years. However, you can take a few steps to prolong the life of your tank.

For example, avoid pouring chemicals (like bleach) down your drains or using them within the septic tank itself, as these liquids can be detrimental to the good bacteria that help your system work effectively. Take care with the items you dispose of as well. You should never dispose of items like baby wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, oil, or grease through your plumbing and septic system.

Likewise, you should not use a garbage disposal to dispose of food scraps. While food waste can decompose over time, letting it flow into your septic tank will fill the space too quickly, damage the tank unintentionally, and require more maintenance and pumping.

Homes With Septic Systems Should Have an Additional Inspection

One of the biggest steps you can take as a potential homeowner is to schedule a home inspection to ensure the property is safe enough to live in. Certified inspectors can handle the main part of your home’s examination, but Florida state law mandates that a certified environmental health professional or state-licensed septic tank professional inspects the property’s septic system.

Having a septic system inspected before you purchase a home is completely optional, though scheduling this service is highly recommended so you can avoid costly repairs shortly after closing on your new home.

If you have any other questions regarding septic systems, or if you’ve decided to purchase a home with a septic system you’d like inspected, contact Abbotts’ Construction Services Inc. With our extensive experience, we’ll gladly and capably address any concerns you may have so you can feel at ease using a septic system in your new abode.