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A Failing Septic Can Ruin Your Home Sale

Although sewage treatment is not a topic everyone wants to think about, I was recently involved in a residential sale in which the home had a septic system that was in failure, discovered only during the home inspection process, prior to contract signing. An impartial septic inspection, as opposed to one from a septic contractor (who is also looking for work), is an absolute requirement for anyone buying a house with these types of systems.
On-site septic systems in the Rivertowns are rarer than one might expect, especially for an area that was once considered semi-rural, but they do exist and are more common as one moves farther north in the county. A septic system will go into failure if the tank is not pumped routinely over time and the fields become saturated as a result. Ponding of water near the system is not a good sign. In the case of this particular home, the ground was perpetually and noticeably wet. The owner should have recognized the signs. The replacement costs for a septic system hover in the $30,000 range and require significant soil replacement and property disruption, usually of your now perfect lawn, as well as removal of any nearby trees and shrubs. It is required however if there is no easy street access to a newer, sanitary sewer line. This can all be avoided with a routine pump out of the system every few years, with a typical cost of only $400.
Because of the possibly expensive repair required due to the lack of what was easy maintenance, my clients, who really liked the house otherwise, were able to negotiate a substantial price reduction to reflect the future work required. The property owners were essentially held hostage to the overly exorbitant estimates by some of the contractors.
A few points of interest, for those still reading this post, from the company that performed the initial septic inspection: http://advseptic.com/oursepticinspection.html

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