Homebuyer’s Guide to Septic Tanks & Septic System Inspections

It is important to understand the difference between a city sewer system and a septic system. When a home is connected to “city-sewer” you really only need to remember to pay your utility bill and make sure your connection to the sewer system is maintained properly. When a home has a septic system there are several other items to consider. Here are some important guidelines when purchasing a home with a septic system.

Is there an Improvement Permit or Septic Permit for the Property?

Depending on the record keeping of the local health department, some permits may be easier to locate than others. If you are able to find the permit that will give you most of the information you need to understand about the construction and location of the system. Once you have this information, you should ask your agent to schedule a septic inspection (more on that later). If you are unable to locate a permit, don’t worry, you can still schedule a septic inspection to answer the questions needed about the system.

There are several licensed septic inspection companies in the High Country. During the inspection technicians will locate the septic tank, uncover the lid, assess the level of fluids and locate the drain field. Once they have completed those tasks, they will pump the tank.

What are Septic Systems?

The Septic Tank

The septic tank itself is the holding tank for all of the liquids and solids that leave your home. The septic tank gets everything from the showers, bathtubs, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and of course the toilets. It is important for the tank to be operating at the correct level. The technician will be able to asses the level by inserting a camera inside the tank. The camera will reveal if the system’s ability to intake solids, break them down over time, and then dispense them in fluid form into the drain field.

The Drain Field

The drain field is a series of lines or ditches that allow the liquid (effluent) from the tank to naturally and safely percolate throughout the soil. There is a specific design and formula used to create the field and it depends on the number of bedrooms in the home (usage), the soil quality, proximity to water sources and to permanent structures. Once the technician has done all of those tasks, they pump the entire tank and examine the condition of the tank itself. During this time, the technician can appropriately asses if the tank is in good working condition. Then the tank is cleaned and refilled with water to the correct operating level. The customer will receive a written report with all of the information needed to understand the system. Our firm encourages all buyers to conduct a septic inspection if the property is not connected to “city-sewer.”

Overwhelmed by the ins and outs of the home buying process? 828 Real Estate is here to help. Contact us for more information on home inspections in the High Country of North Carolina.

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About the Author

Susan is proud to be a native Tarheel, but as a military brat she also spent many years growing up in Kodiak, Alaska. Her father was a helicopter pilot in the Marines and then the U.S. Coast Guard, which allowed her to experience and appreciate both the South East and the Pacific NorthWest. After spending most of her High School years in Kodiak, her family was stationed back to Elizabeth City, NC. When the time came to choose a college to attend, Susan longed for something that reminded her a bit of the beautiful mossy forests of Alaska and the mountain culture that she had grown to love. Upon arrival in Boone in 2002 she immediately felt like she had come home. Although Susan is not a “true Wataugan,” she now considers the High Country of North Carolina her home. Susan loves to travel and even spent a semester abroad in County Cork, Ireland. Susan graduated from Appalachian State University in 2006 with a Bachelors degree in History, Secondary Education. Susan met her husband, David Stelling, while attending ASU. David is originally from Georgia and is a Professional Fly Fishing Guide and Outfitter in North Carolina, Tennessee and Alaska. Susan has dedicated the past 10 years of her life teaching at risk youth in western North Carolina in the award winning Blue Ridge Academy. Located in Avery County, it is a progressive and holistic approach to public education on a secondary level. Susan and David had their first child in 2015. Sophronia Woods Stelling is the light of their lives and both are grateful to have the awesome experience of parenthood. Susan and David feel fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places and supportive communities on earth. The High Country is a wonderful place to not only vacation, but also to raise a family. Susann decided to expand her career portfolio and became a licensed real estate broker in North Carolina this past year. Susan is eager to begin this new journey and excited to bring the joy of living in the High Country to her future clients.