Septic systems are commonly associated with homes located in country-like settings however we do find homes on septic systems in some parts of Marin County.
What is a septic system?
Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment structures, commonly used in rural areas in lieu of sewers where a public sewer utility does not offer service. They use a combination of nature and technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry.
A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and leach field (soil absorption field). Tanks are water-tight containers usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Its job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle down to the bottom forming sludge, while the oil and grease float to the top as scum.
The whole system is designed to keep bacteria healthy and active because bacteria are actually what makes septic systems work! Bacteria break down waste, leaving the water clean enough to safely percolate down into the ground.
KEY POINTS FOR HOME BUYERS:
- ALWAYS inspect the ENTIRE septic system! This means hiring a licensed septic professional to pump and inspect the tank, sewer line, and leech field.
- Existing septic tanks can be repaired. If the system isn’t functioning properly, this doesn’t automatically mean your system needs to be replaced. Depending on the problem, septic systems can oftentimes qualify for minor repair permits through the county.
- Do your due diligence because you may be on the hook for a costly replacement system! If the septic system is in a state of disrepair and can not be repaired, you will be on the hook to replace the existing system that is no longer functioning.
- Budget for routine maintenance. A well-designed septic system can last for decades upon decades. This longevity is based on design, routine maintenance, and service from septic tank professionals.
This is just a quick and dirty synopsis! Depending on the property, other things may pop up. We are happy to help you navigate septic systems as these are things we see all the time with our real estate development projects and our real estate sales teams here in Marin County and Lake Tahoe. Just reach out!
Torben Yjord-Jackson – Realtor
EXP Realty of CA, Inc.
License # 02050831