According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than one in five U.S. households relies on some sort of septic system. A septic system is a self-contained, underground wastewater treatment system that carries wastewater from the structure and deposits it in a septic tank. A septic system includes a(n):

When buying or selling a home, the contract may be contingent upon an inspection of the septic system. Check out this video to see a septic system inspection.

Septic System Care and Maintenance

Septic systems aren’t cheapβ€”a 1,000-gallon tank for a three-bedroom home can cost between $8,000 to $15,000, according to AngiesList.comβ€”so regular maintenance and upkeep is important. Ideally, homeowners should have their septic systems inspected every three years. In addition, the EPA recommends that homeowners have their septic system pumped once every one to three years. The average cost to pump a tank is $300 to $400.

To learn more about septic tank costs, take a look at the optional resource.

Septic System Inspections

During an inspection, a professional septic contractor conducts a visual inspection of the entire septic system. He’ll use tools to look inside the tank the filtration systems to look for clogs, leaks, and so on.

The inspector will also conduct a drainfield test. This involves digging holes in the ground around the septic system. If the holes have standing water, the septic system may need maintenance. In addition, the inspector will use a β€œsludge judge” to test the soil around the tank for settlable solids.

Who’s Responsible for Septic Inspections and Repairs?

In many states, sellers must have their septic systems inspected within six months prior to transferring ownership of the property. The inspection report must address the physical and operational condition of the system and note any observed deficiencies and completed repairs. If the inspection reveals problems, the seller is responsible for making the repairs.

The inspection must be completed by a qualified, licensed inspector.

The seller has to provide copies of any septic inspection reports to the buyer before the closing date. After closing the buyer must submit a notice of transfer to the appropriate local agency.

To learn more about the risks of buying a home with a bad septic system, take a look at the optional resource.

In states where the seller must provide an inspection within six months of the sale, the seller has the inspection, but the property doesn’t sell within six months, the seller will have to get another inspection. Note that an inspection isn’t required if the system isn’t actually put into service before the property transfer.

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