A septic tank can be intimidating for home buyers who have never had one in the past. Knowing how one works, how to maintain a septic tank and when to get an inspection can help the homeowner decide whether or not a home with a septic tank is right for them.
How a Septic Tank Works
A septic tank is a tank that collects waste water from the home. Septic tanks are found in rural areas, where there is no community sewer system to manage waste water. Typically, a septic tank will be buried in the yard where it can be easily accessed by the septic tank pumping company. Home buyers who are planning to purchase a rural property will have no choice but to buy a home with a septic tank.
When someone in the house flushes water down the drain, it enters the septic tank and immediately begins to separate. Water in the septic tank separates into three layers: sludge on bottom, fats and scum on top, and dirty water in the middle. When the septic tank gets full enough, water from the septic tank drains into a pipe that extends into an area of the yard called the drain field.
Soil cleans the water. By the time the water from the septic tank enters the ground water, the soil has filtered the bacteria out of the tank. Septic tanks can go on like this for years, but eventually, the solids in the bottom of the tank will build up. When this happens, the septic tank must be pumped or it will clog. Cleaning that is no simple task and if you want to act smart, you must well prepare the site to reduce to cost on your rental bin and dumpster charges.
Why Inspections Are Important
Many homeowners do not pump their septic tank as often as they should. If the solids in the tank reach a certain point, the tank may become clogged and the tank will back up into the home. The only way to tell if the tank has been properly maintained is by having it (and other parts of the home) inspected before purchasing the home.
The inspector may be able to tell the potential buyer how big the tank is, how often it needs to be pumped and whether or not the tank has been well cared for over the years. In addition to needing regular pumping, the septic tank must also be maintained by the homeowner in other ways. The inspector may be able to reveal to the home buyer how much care and attention the tank gets on a regular basis.
How to Maintain the Septic Tank
Septic tanks are sensitive to the debris that can get flushed down the drains of a home. They rely on bacteria to break down solids and turn the solids into liquid. When things that have antibacterial qualities are flushed down the drain, this can destroy the bacteria and cause sludge to build up in the bottom of the tank. Bleach, antibacterial soap and antibiotics are all bad for septic tanks. In addition, some "flushable" items like disposable wipes and diapers are also bad for septic tanks.
In addition to pumping their septic tank regularly, homeowners can maintain their septic tanks by making sure that the only thing that is flushed down the tank is water and human waste.
If you're thinking about buying a Nashville home with a septic tank, or if you've just bought a home with a septic tank, work with your septic tank professional to ensure that the tank is well maintained, and is in good condition.
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