The Buyer's Guide to Real Estate

« Back to Home

In The Market For A Pre-Existing Home? Four Ways To Identify Potential Septic Problems

Posted on

Now that you're in the market for a pre-existing home, you want to avoid as many pre-existing problems as possible. The last thing you want to do is buy someone else's headaches. You know to check for things like roofing damage, electrical problems, and basic plumbing issues. However, if the home is attached to a septic system, you might not know how to check for septic problems. Unfortunately, if you don't know what to look for, you could end up with a headache of a septic system once you move in. To help you identify potential septic problems, here are four steps you should take while you're touring homes.

Flush the Toilets

When it comes to identifying septic troubles, one of the first things you want to do is flush the toilets. When septic systems are having problems, they'll often identify themselves through toilet noises and leaks. Flush each toilet and listen for gurgling from deep inside the drain pipes. That gurgling could signify that the septic lines are clogged or about to clog. Next, look around the base of the toilets and inside the tubs. If you see brown water around the base of the toilets or raw sewage in the tubs, the septic system is about to fail.

Smell the Air

Once you've flushed the toilets in the house, go out into the backyard and smell the air. If there are septic problems between the house and the septic system, you'll smell the faint odor – or not-so-faint-odor – of raw sewage wafting through the air. That sewage odor is a sure sign that the home is experiencing septic problems.

Walk the Yard

While you're outside, take the time to walk around the yard for a bit. Pay close attention to the area directly over the septic field. If you see puddles of brown water coming up through the soil or the ground feels soggy or squishy under your feet, the septic system has overflowed and sewage is escaping into the soil. 

Check the Clean-Out Drains

Before you head back inside, you'll want to check out one more thing: the clean-out drains. Those are the above-ground drains that are located under the bathroom and kitchen windows along the foundation of the home. Look at the soil around the drains. If the septic system has overflowed or backed up recently, you'll be able to see remnants of raw sewage on the ground or on the cap.

Now that you're ready to buy a house, don't buy one with septic troubles. Use the tips provided here to identify septic troubles that will need to be addressed.