Buying a rural home in South Carolina is a dream come true for families who want to enjoy a quiet, more peaceful lifestyle amid beautiful scenery. But for those who have previously lived in more populated areas, a learning curve may apply.
This is especially true for home buyers who are purchasing a home with its own septic tank and drain field. When purchasing a home served by its own private sewage disposal system, buyers can shorten the learning curve by taking time to check for the following potential problems before finalizing the purchase.
Extended Periods of Vacancy Before the Sale
Homes that sit vacant for long periods of time may have damage to the septic system that is difficult to determine by a casual visual inspection. This can include freeze damage to components, surface connections, or pipes, as well as sewage pipes that have been cracked or damaged by vehicle traffic or the infiltration of roots from nearby trees and bushes.
But another, more critical issue may also be present when purchasing a home that has been vacant for an extended time frame. This issue occurs because no water is used in the home, effectively reducing the level of liquid in the septic tank.
When a standard inspection technique known as a loading and dye test is performed as part of the buyer's inspection process, the colored liquid injected into the system may simply fill up the septic tank and never make its way into the drain field at all. Since no liquid makes its way to the drain field, potential leaks or pooling issues may not be found.
Buyers who know that the home they hope to buy has been vacant for a long time should always provide that information to the septic inspector. The inspector can then gauge the level of liquid in the tank and increase the amount of liquid dye used in order to ensure the proper amount will reach the drain field.
Incomplete Information About the Septic System
Situations in which the sellers fail to provide important information about the septic system should be a red flag to buyers. At a minimum, buyers need to know:
- when the system was installed and the name of the installer
- the size and placement of all components
- when the system was last serviced, including the schedule of septic tank pump outs
- any issues, repairs, or changes made to the system during their ownership
In cases where the owner is not able to provide this information, such as when buying a home with deceased owners or a foreclosure, buyers may be able to source some of this information through the county and public health records.
Insufficient System or Component Size
Another problem that you may need to consider when buying a property with a private septic system is the insufficient size of the system or its components. This occurs because septic systems are often designed to fit the square footage or the number of bedrooms in the home.
If the home has been renovated and enlarged, the original septic tank and drain field may not have enough capacity to handle the demand adequately. Insufficient septic system size can also become problematic in situations where the purchasing family is larger than the selling family. More people in the home means more liquid and solid waste for the system to process and if it is not large enough, problems can quickly develop.
Rural septic systems that have been installed correctly and maintained adequately over their lifetime are usually trouble-free to operate and free their owner's freedom from the expense of monthly sewer bills. But private septic systems much be properly maintained.
When buying any home served by an on-site sewage disposal system, prospective buyers will want to seek out a reputable, local, licensed septic service, like Stinky's Septic and Carolina Septic, to ensure that both routine maintenance and emergency service is always just a phone call away.