Dear Esther: We’ve been looking at houses for a few months and the one we are in love with has a septic system instead of public sewer. My dad told me they’re nothing but trouble, so we’re having second thoughts. Do you agree?
A house in a rural setting with more acreage many times has a private or onsite septic system. This system is usually an underground tank buried in the yard with a drain field. As wastewater comes into the tank from pipes in the house, it displaces the water that is already there, which then flows out into a drain field. If the system has been well cared for, the ongoing cost to maintain it is about $200-300/year to hire someone to pump out the tank.
If a home has a private septic system, it is important to have the system inspected as part of purchasing the home to insure it is in good working order. If the inspector’s report shows that it is working fine, your costs to maintain it may not be as much as what the municipality charges for public sewer. The use of garbage disposals is discouraged.
Homes closer together with smaller lots are usually served by public sewer systems managed and maintained by local municipalities. The homeowner’s cost for these vary from $80 to $200/quarter, depending on the municipality. Any problems with the system are the responsibility of the municipality.
If you’re not familiar with private septic systems, you may be reluctant to venture into new territory. Your father may have had problems with a system in the past and therefore perceives them negatively. But like most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. Is the responsibility for the system worth the possible cost savings? Perhaps your love for the property will put this argument to rest!
If you have real estate questions, feel free to contact me – Esther Prosser, Stoltzfus Realtors, email@example.com, 484.269.7153.