Whether you are purchasing a home that is already built or looking at constructing of a home, one very important thing to consider is if the property is connected to a sewer system. Subdivisions, 9 times out of 10, will be set up on a sewage system through the either the county or the city. However, make sure you know if it is or not. Ranch properties may be too far from existing sewage lines and may require you either pay to lay down line (if an option) or put in your own system.
New construction will have no sewage to start with so you and the builder need to get together and figure out what your options will be. If in fact you need to install a septic system there are a few types available to install. And remember, there are always positive and negative things to consider on which to install.
There are two main types of septic systems – Conventional and Aerobic. Additionally, a third type of non-traditional system is becoming more popular in areas where it may difficult to pump the septic tank or the owner is looking to be environmentally friendly. This type of system is called a biofiltration system.
Types of Systems and What They Do
A conventional On-site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) consists of tanks and a leaching system commonly called lateral lines. The way this works is that once the waste is treated it is removed from the tank by way of the lateral lines. Here the treated water is either forced through a gravel drain field or through stone. The advantage of a conventional system is it requires little maintenance, doesn’t use chlorine or power. The disadvantages of a conventional system are it can be sluggish in wet weather and functions poorly in compact soils such as clay.
The aerobic system uses the same process, only scaled down, as a municipal wastewater treatment plant. It removes up to 98 percent of the organic matter and solids from the wastewater, producing effluent as clean as that from a municipal wastewater treatment plant and cleaner than that from a conventional septic system. Aerobic systems require less space and also produce much cleaner effluent, frequently eliminating the need for a drain field.
The aerobic system also consists of tanks, but it utilizes a system that sprays the disinfected effluent over the lawn. The benefits of an aerobic system are: it handles wastewater more efficiently and works well in all soils. The disadvantages of the aerobic system are that it requires a maintenance agreement (usually about $200 per year), requires chlorine tablets and constantly uses power. Here’s an example of a property we sold with this system.
Outside the main two septic choices there is a third system that can be used complementary or as a primary system, if done correctly. Biofiltration systems are an option that is very often overlooked. Biofiltration septic systems interestingly enough were the first type of systems used during the industrial age in England around 1893. This type of system is mainly used to clean the water well enough that it may be reused as greywater. This is water that you do not use for drinking, but can be used for many other purposes.
The greywater is most commonly used for washing clothes, lawn care, and other non-drinking uses, like bathing. The way this system works is typically in two or three phases. The water is either pushed up or down through a medium like sand or other engineered media. The water then travels through a biofilm comprised of microorganisms, which eat the waste. Lastly, there is a gas phase, where a biological reaction takes place with the microorganisms and waste is given off in the form of gas.
The positive gains from at least running your water through a partial biofiltration system is that this system does not require electricity, create any new waste from the cleaning process, and a relatively low price to set up and maintain the system. However, this system is not without its downside. Due to the use of a medium, the system needs constant maintenance so that the medium does not clog. Also, drinking water can be created with this process but is much more difficult. For best use of this system you should only use it for greywater and use a secondary system for drinking water.
Installation and What to Expect
Since 1989, installers of most septic systems were required to obtain permits, so the county should have records of the system. Also, many counties will only permit the aerobic system for new construction or if a conventional system fails and must be replaced.
If buying a property with a septic system, make sure you get it inspected. Find out when it was last pumped, as pumping every three to five years is recommended. Here are a few other tips you should also consider when looking at a new ranch property.
For additional information, contact us, Dutch and Cheryl Wiemeyer, Realtors® with Keller Williams Realty, today at (940)365-4687, and we would be happy to help guide you through the process.