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  #1  
Old 03-19-2008, 04:35 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Private well/septic questions

I've always lived in homes connected to city water/sewer. We're looking into moving in a year or so, and some of the places we are looking at have private wells and septic systems. I know absolutely nothing about either, and have to admit I am a tad leery about both. I was wondering if folks could clue me in to what both systems involve. What should I look for? What questions should I ask? What maintenance do they require at what cost?

A part of me says I would be foolish to disconnect from Lake Michigan, to rely instead on a private well. Do I need to get the water tested on a regular basis? Should I expect to have to buy drinking water? A water softener? Are there local agencies where I can find info on the local aquifers?

Re: septic, are there any expenses/maintenance other than having it pumped every 2-3 years? How much does that cost?

Ought you include any special inspection provisions or other terms into a purchase contract for a property with well/septic?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2008, 05:23 PM
Renob Renob is offline
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There are companies that will do a well and septic inspection for you. If you have a real estate agent he or she should be able to give you the names of these companies. They will be able to answer all your concerns.

We have a well and septic system. We bought the house a year-and-a-half ago and have yet to incur any expense. Plus, we don't pay for water or sewer. I'm sure we'll need the septic tank pumped at some point, but that's not a very big deal.
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2008, 05:24 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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I have both. The only problem with my water is high iron content, which was dealt with via whole house particulate filter. I also drew a sample and had it analyzed to make sure standards for potability were met. Depending on the style of your well, basic components are a pump which may be submersible, a pump pressure switch, an expansion tank, pressure gauge, and pipe. Pumps can burn out, check valves can fail, pressure switches can go bad, expansion tanks can leak.

Site septic can involve grinder/lift pumps, septic tank and drainfield or sand mound. Quality of operation there is a function of system design/installation, and how well your ground percs. Around here, it doesn't, so my township requires pump and cert every three years at a cost of a couple of hundred bucks.

The best thing you can do with site septic is reduce what goes in via low flow toilets, shower heads and general conservation of water.
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2008, 05:35 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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Definately find out about the water quality before you buy. My SO and I owned a house (for just over a year) in the Chicago suburbs, Villa Park. Our little neighborhood was still on private well and septic systems. The water passed all of the safety standards, but was very heavy on iron. We had to have filters on it, before we could use it in the house. Even with that, we chose to drink filtered water that we refilled at the local grocery store, which was NOT on a well. If I ever look at another house on a well, I'll be stopping by the neighbors and asking them if they have any problems with the water quality. We were on seperate wells, but all drew from the same aquifer.

You don't mention if the houses you are looking at are in the country or inside a city. During the year we lived there, the city decided to extended city water and sewers to our part of town. Yeah!! Except they were going to charge about $5k/house for the right to hook up to these services (officially, to cover the cost of running the sewer and water mains), we weren't going to have the option of saying no, and that wouldn't include the cost of running pipes to the houses and the hookups. We figured it was going to be over $10k to get that all hooked up.

Other then keeping an eye on those 2 things, we had zero problems. We had a swimming pool, and it was rather nice not to have to worry about the cost of water for that thing.
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2008, 10:06 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
A part of me says I would be foolish to disconnect from Lake Michigan, to rely instead on a private well. Do I need to get the water tested on a regular basis?
Depends on the area. Does it have a history of problems? Did the water test bad at any time? Are you near any point sources of pollution that might contribute (farms, quarries, dumps, chemical plants)? What is the geology in the area (karst country allows water to penetrate deep too fast to be adequately filtered)? How deep is the well? How old? Ever been treated before?
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Should I expect to have to buy drinking water?
Not unless the well tests bad or you don't like the (safe) taste. There are many kinds of home treatments available -- consult an expert.
Quote:
A water softener?
Perhaps. Depends on the hardness of the water and your preferences. Softeners can serve double-duty to remove other impurities, too, like iron.
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Are there local agencies where I can find info on the local aquifers?
Try the county sanitarian or soil and water department, if there is one. If not, try at the state level.
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Re: septic, are there any expenses/maintenance other than having it pumped every 2-3 years? How much does that cost?
States nowdays maintain a list of septic systems and may force you to have it pumped and/or inspected periodically. 2-3 years is common. The cost depends on the size of the tank. Mine (3BR house) costs about $90 to pump.

You need to learn how to maintain a healthy septic. Since it relies on bacterial action, putting Clorox down the drain will pretty much stop the action you want. Some plumbers recommend enzymes to perk up the action.

A drain field may clog and have to be replaced every few decades, depending on your soil conditions. Some soils (or lack of them) may not be suitable for a septic system and your local sanitarian should help with this.
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Ought you include any special inspection provisions or other terms into a purchase contract for a property with well/septic?
Absolutely (Realtor here). In my county, we have an addendum designed just for this purpose; for rural property purchases. A typical transaction includes a water test for bacteria; a well test for proper action; and a septic test for leakage and safe condition. (If none exists yet, you may need a perc test or soil analysis.) This is one of the advantages to using a real estate agent familiar with your area. She/He may know of other problems and suggest some specific tests.

I had one home buyer request a mercury test (he was a dentist). Other requests have been for radon or pesticides (near orchards) or petroleum products (near gas stations).

This is a field where you don't want to walk into blindly -- let the experts help you.
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2008, 08:00 AM
lynne-42 lynne-42 is offline
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Have you considered rain water tanks? I have lived mostly with water tanks and septic systems. I did move into the city for a while and hence have connected services, but much prefer the country and independence.

It will depend a great deal on where you are and local laws, so my Australian experience may not be relevant. The water from the tanks, collected from the roof of the house and a number of sheds, is far cleaner than any city water. I don't buy bottled water - I just fill a bottle from the tap. Our septic tank water is then treated within our own system and the output pipes spread underground over a large area. That is the orchard! We live in a very dry area of poor soil, so depend on the septic and multiple compost bins to improve the soil. We have had no expenses from the septic tank. It was here when we bought the place nearly ten years ago.

Given those in the city are on severe water restrictions due to the drought, those of us with tanks get to control our own use of water.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2008, 08:12 AM
rbroome rbroome is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
I've always lived in homes connected to city water/sewer. We're looking into moving in a year or so, and some of the places we are looking at have private wells and septic systems. I know absolutely nothing about either, and have to admit I am a tad leery about both. I was wondering if folks could clue me in to what both systems involve. What should I look for? What questions should I ask? What maintenance do they require at what cost?

A part of me says I would be foolish to disconnect from Lake Michigan, to rely instead on a private well. Do I need to get the water tested on a regular basis? Should I expect to have to buy drinking water? A water softener? Are there local agencies where I can find info on the local aquifers?

Re: septic, are there any expenses/maintenance other than having it pumped every 2-3 years? How much does that cost?

Ought you include any special inspection provisions or other terms into a purchase contract for a property with well/septic?

Thanks.
It is not a simple subject, get expert (experienced locals preferred since they will know the particular problems of your area) advice. Two general things that come to mind in evaluating a property. Depth of well and it's age. Deeper is usually better, but more expensive to replace. Every well degrades over time. Eventually the well pipe will clog-either from sand or mineral buildup or both. Then it will have to be rebuilt/replaced. Find out the specs on your well, and call a well-drilling company for advice. Is a large part of their business redrilling wells? It depends on the local geology. But it is something you need to know. As for septic, make sure you are OK with the disposal system. ie, does the land "perc"? Does the outfall from your tank go into a drainage field and soak into the ground? Or does it go into a drainage field and hence into a ditch? (usual case here where none of the land percs). Both methods work, but you need to know how your system works and make sure it works correctly. The worst thing you can do is assume that water and septic just work without maintenance. It will be like driving a car with no maintenance. It will fail at the most inopportune time. But with maintenance it will provide reliable service for many years.
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  #8  
Old 03-20-2008, 09:32 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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We bought a house with well and septic about 5 years ago. We got the water tested, and it was fine. We pumped the septic when we moved in (~$100), and from what I understand, that should be fine for 10 or 15 years.

Other than it being slightly hard, I can't tell the difference other than we did run out of water twice. Once was when Mr. Athena forgot and left the sprinklers running for about ten hours. The other was just sorta random, and all we had to do was wait a couple hours and it came back.

One thing to keep in mind - if you want a garbage disposal in your sink, a lot of people will tell you not to put one in if you have a septic tank. We talked to a lot of people about it and ended up putting one in, and have never had a problem.

Other than what I say above, we've had no problems with it at all, and it saves us a water bill every month.
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2008, 09:35 AM
robby robby is offline
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Environmental engineer here...

My house has both well water and septic, and I work for a public utility that provides public water and sewer.

In more rural areas, there is nothing inherently wrong with well water and septic systems, provided they were properly installed and maintained.

With well water and septic, the upside is that you don't have to pay water/sewer fees. The downside is that you have to maintain your own systems, and you should periodically have your water tested (every 1-2 years).

Wells are either shallow wells installed in the soil, or deep bedrock wells. The latter are preferable, as they are less likely to be affected by surface contaminants (e.g. pesticides and/or fertilizers). Well pumps can be expected to last 8-15 years, and cost about $600 to replace. Anther downside to well water is that you lose water if the power goes out.

(My well water has high dissolved iron, so I have to treat the water with a softener. There are other methods for treating iron, but this was the most reliable and cost-effective.)

Most septic systems simply utilize a gravity-flow septic tank and leach field. You don't generally have to deal with pumps or sand mounds unless your soil has insufficient percolation properties, or if the system has failed and you are having to replace the leach field. Depending on use and the soil properties, a typical leach field could be expected to last 20-40 years. Replacement of the leach field can cost as much as $15-20K, though.

Proper maintenance of a septic system is simply having the septic tank pumped every 2-3 years, which costs $100-200. The septic system works by natural bacteria decomposing most of the waste. It's fine to dispose of household cleaners down the drain, so long as it not done to excess (i.e. don't pour 10 gallons of bleach down the drain). It is generally NOT recommended to add any additives to a septic system to "improve performance." Every product that I have seen is snake oil.

There is nothing inherently bad about a septic system, provided that it was properly designed and maintained. A properly operating septic system is an environmentally sound method of waste disposal that will not adversely impact public health or the environment. In my experience, the systems that have problems are the decades-old systems that were grossly undersized at the time of installation.

Your local public health department should have publicly available records detailing the installation details for all residential wells and septic systems in their jurisdiction. If you want to be very diligent about a particular house, you could review these.

In Connecticut, when selling a house with well water/septic, it's typical for the buyer to require that the septic tank be pumped and the system inspected. Typically, the seller pays for the pumping, and the buyer pays for the inspection. For the well, typically the buyer pays for a water test during the inspection period.

I hope this helps.
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2008, 09:36 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Thanks guys. We haven't really even started looking yet, but are just trying to figure out what would be our options. Honestly, I had no idea so many areas in the metro area relied on wells/septic.

We are currently in Glen Ellyn. We are looking to buy somewhere a little further west and/or south, slightly more rural, with a little more land. Some of the places I've looked where wells/septic seem common are areas of West Chicago, Winfield, and Homer Glen. But given the market we won't buy anything - and probably won't even look too seriously - until we've sold our present house.

I mainly wanted to try to figure out whether I should consider well/septic to be a dealbreaker - which would certainly cut down on my options. Spoke with my wife yesterday and it probably shouldn't be - although when we start looking it will certainly be something we will need to research heavily.

I know aquifers are way different from surface water. But I guess having experienced the congestion, construction, and pollution in the area all my life, I had a hard time grasping that private wells could be practical and safe.

Tell me about a private septic field. As I understand it, there are a series of perforated pipes a couple of feet below the surface (below the frost line?), draining into gravel. And you shouldn't build or plant trees and such over it. But is it otherwise useable lawn for recreation purposes? The idea of playing on a lawn just inches above a pool of shit soup kinda gives me pause...

Fortunately, we should be able to pull considerably more equity out of our house than we would be buying (downsizing after the last kid goes to college), so we could afford whatever updates/maintenance is involved - including municipal water/sewer hookups. Our dream would be to buy something we could update with green technology - such as a geothermal heat pump.
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2008, 09:48 AM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
...One thing to keep in mind - if you want a garbage disposal in your sink, a lot of people will tell you not to put one in if you have a septic tank. We talked to a lot of people about it and ended up putting one in, and have never had a problem.
In my opinion, it's a bad idea to add a garbage disposal to a house with a septic system. You run the risk of overloading the system's capacity to safely decompose the waste, and you run the risk of passing solids into your leach field. If you pass solids into your leach field, and clog a pipe, it's very expensive to fix this. In the worst case, you could cause your leach field to fail. Replacing a leach field costs about $15-20K. Not worth it, in my opinion.

Also, while a leach field could be expected to last 20-40 years, the easiest way to cause premature failure is the use of a garbage disposal.

When I hear people say, "we installed a garbage disposal with our septic system, and have never had a problem," to me, that's like hearing someone say, "I've smoked cigarettes for years, and have never had a problem."

If someone still insists on installing a garbage disposal, they should increase the frequency of septic tank pumping to no less frequently than once per year.
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Old 03-20-2008, 09:51 AM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale
...Tell me about a private septic field. As I understand it, there are a series of perforated pipes a couple of feet below the surface (below the frost line?), draining into gravel. And you shouldn't build or plant trees and such over it. But is it otherwise useable lawn for recreation purposes? The idea of playing on a lawn just inches above a pool of shit soup kinda gives me pause...
If the leach field is working properly, the leachate should simply percolate into the soil.

The lawn should be perfectly usable for recreation purposes. If you see or smell anything, the system is not working properly.
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Old 03-20-2008, 09:55 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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What an informative couple of cross-posts!

Like I said, if we go this route we'll be trying to get a little more property (at least 1/2 acre), and intend to incorporate a lot of "green", so I anticipate doing a lot of composting. Just this a.m. I was thinking about maintaining a compost bucket in the kitchen for compostable waste. So we won't be installing a disposal, or relying heavily on one that is already installed.
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:08 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Just wanted to say that my building (a 4 flat) has a well and septic system - we're in the Gary/Merrillville area of northwest Indiana, essentially a Chicago suburb. There is a 50 gallon reserve tank next to the well pump so if power does go out we can draw from that tank (so far we have not needed to do this). The tank was last sucked out about 8 years ago, when a neighbor's 4 year old went through a phase of flushing washclothes and dishtowels down the toilet. Other than that, no problems.

We get our water tested every year. This may be more than strictly necessary, but we do live amidst farms and heavy industry so it seems prudent.

The water has a LOT of iron and minerals in it - we've been assured it's healthy even if it does look a little orange. We filter the drinking and cooking water for taste with a Britta filter. Some of my nieghbors have bought drinking water over the years. Some just learn to put up with the taste.

Many household cleaning products will say explicitly "safe for septic systems". If you have a concern, stick with those. There are also products sold to deal with staining from minerals in the water, although I found regular cleaning of sinks and toilets takes care of most of it.
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:19 AM
Mycroft H. Mycroft H. is offline
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If I may, I would like to expand a bit on the subject in spite of the great posts thus far.

Garbage disposals are not a problem as long as they were included into the original design. Septic tanks are designed for the number of bedrooms in a house (more bedrooms, bigger tank) and if a disposal is part of the house, the size is increased accordingly. (I prefer composting as well and have a 3-bin system that takes kitchen waste as well as some leaves and grass clippings. Itís great to have a yard big enough to do this.) Adding a garbage disposal to a house with an existing septic tank can overload the system and cause the problems robby alluded to. With a proper pre-purchase inspection and someone who checks baffles when it is pumped, it should last the 20-40 years others have mentioned.

As for the drain field, yeah, you shouldnít drive a vehicle over it and canít plant trees in the area, but other than that, it isnít noticeable unless it is a mound system. (Mound systems are what they sound like. In areas with poor soils, to get an area to drain into and allow the bacteria to eat the waste, installers need to build a couple of foot high mound which is noticeable.) You donít notice the waste a few feet down that is being consumed by the bacteria any more than you would notice all the worm or mole crap in the ground as well.

An advantage with our well system is the water quality. My wife has a lot of aquariums and she is able to add water directly from the tap without having to dechlorinate. Luckily we donít have iron problems and therefore donít need to soften it.

When you settle on a spot, a good thing would be to check with the local authority to see what upcoming improvement s there are. If it is a well/septic region, does the city have plans on extending sewer and water service to the area in a few years? If so, there will probably be assessments. The same can go for other improvements such as adding curb or reconstructing a road. If possible, check with the local authorities to see what is in their 5 or 10 year plan.

Bottom line - a well and septic system should not be a deal breaker, just something to add to the list of things to check for as a wise purchaser.
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:21 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robby
In my opinion, it's a bad idea to add a garbage disposal to a house with a septic system. You run the risk of overloading the system's capacity to safely decompose the waste, and you run the risk of passing solids into your leach field. If you pass solids into your leach field, and clog a pipe, it's very expensive to fix this. In the worst case, you could cause your leach field to fail. Replacing a leach field costs about $15-20K. Not worth it, in my opinion.

Also, while a leach field could be expected to last 20-40 years, the easiest way to cause premature failure is the use of a garbage disposal.

When I hear people say, "we installed a garbage disposal with our septic system, and have never had a problem," to me, that's like hearing someone say, "I've smoked cigarettes for years, and have never had a problem."

If someone still insists on installing a garbage disposal, they should increase the frequency of septic tank pumping to no less frequently than once per year.
Yup, this is exactly what we heard. And for everyone telling us this, there was some other highly qualified person telling us it's fine.

For me, a garbage disposal is an essential part of a kitchen. I use it so often and I like it enough that I'm willing to take the risk.
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:23 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft H.
Garbage disposals are not a problem as long as they were included into the original design. Septic tanks are designed for the number of bedrooms in a house (more bedrooms, bigger tank) and if a disposal is part of the house, the size is increased accordingly. (I prefer composting as well and have a 3-bin system that takes kitchen waste as well as some leaves and grass clippings. Itís great to have a yard big enough to do this.) Adding a garbage disposal to a house with an existing septic tank can overload the system and cause the problems robby alluded to. With a proper pre-purchase inspection and someone who checks baffles when it is pumped, it should last the 20-40 years others have mentioned.
I don't know the size of our septic tank, but we have a very big house (~5000 square feet) and it was 5 years old at the time we bought it. I have no reason to believe that the tank is not in line with the size of the house.
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:37 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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We have a septic tank, and my father works part time installing septic systems.

It is recommended you have a septic tank pumped every five years.

Do not plant ANYTHING but grass over your septic field. My father has shown me pictures of pipes, as well as actual pipes, where tree roots have infiltrated the field...very expensive repair.

Do not park anything over your septic field.

Nothing should go down the pipes except water and bodily waste. My father recommends liquid dishwasher and laundry detergent...it's easier on the drain field. Don't wash out your paint brushes with turpentine in your sink. Don't flush pills. Don't pour cooking oil down your sink. Use your garbage disposal sparingly. There are all sorts of good microbes in your drainfield, happily munching away, and you don't want to make them mad.

Don't use excess water...meaning try not to run the dishwasher while you're running six loads of laundry through the washing machine.

RidX is not necessary if you treat your septic field kindly. We haven't had a problem with ours.

Last edited by ivylass; 03-20-2008 at 11:39 AM..
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:38 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft H.
An advantage with our well system is the water quality. My wife has a lot of aquariums and she is able to add water directly from the tap without having to dechlorinate. Luckily we donít have iron problems and therefore donít need to soften it.
Funny, but that is almost exactly the opposite of my situation. I have planted aquaria, and nothing is better for growing underwater weeds than good old Lake Michigan water. In contrast, many of the areas not drawing from the lake have extremely hard, high-ph water...
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:43 PM
Plynck Plynck is offline
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I think that I'm just going to change my sig line to "What robby said". Great posts by everyone so far.

City Water and Sewer:

You pay for what you use. Fees pay for water and wastewater treatment costs. Further, sewer fees are typically a function of "water in", so if you water your lawn, you pay a corresponding sewer fee for that; that's why a lot of folks meter their pools separately. Don't like fluoridation? Tough, suck it up, you're getting it. However, bear in mind that water treatment plants are held to higher drinking water standards than that bottled water you bought this morning.

Other than that, it's painless. Water comes in, sewage goes out, you pay the bill. The only cost you may need to worry about is if something happens to your service connections (the water or sewer lines on your property). If something happens to the main lines (the lines in the street or public way), that's not your problem.

Private Water and Sewer:

I don't know if you will face similar requirements, but: In Massachusetts, all homes with septic systems must be inspected at the time of sale to ensure that they are functional and do not meet the failure criteria of Title V, CMR 15. Any repairs to the system must be in accordance with Title V; similarly, any later addition to the house that affects the capacity of the system (typically a new bedroom) will probably require a re-evaluation of the septic system. If it was properly sized with additional capacity, you may be fine.

Nowadays, there are regulations dictating how close a septic system may be to a well. Those may not have been observed in older houses. Verify that the distances are adequate. Also, remember that you may not expand your septic system if it will then encroach on a neighbor's wellfield.

As stated before, a well pump stops when the power goes out. It happened to me in my vacation cottage last summer. If you don't have an emergency generator, then you are out of water. Typically, septic systems are gravity and are unaffected by power, but verify if there are grinder pumps or ejector pumps which will be power dependent.

The septic system flows from your final waste pipe to the inlet of your septic tank. This is where the biological action takes place. If your system functions properly, the only thing that goes out the tank outlet pipe is liquid effluent. That then goes to a distribution box that evenly distributes the effluent through pipes to percolate below grade. So try not to give the system any more work to do than necessary. Limit what you put through your garbage disposal. Low-flow toilets are your friend, as are low-use washing machines.

ETA: Forgot to mention, the septic tank vents back through your waste pipe to the house vent. If you have a trap on the line before it leaves the house, you may need a "candy cane" type vent to release gases. Obviously it is preferable to do this through the vent at the top of your house.

Eventually grease or other "indigestible" products will build up in your tank, and you will need to have it pumped. It's a function of your lifestyle and your diet more than anything else.

Assuming that all is functioning well, your costs for the well will be the power to the pump, and any water treatment you elect. The septic system costs are for pumping.

One caveat, however: If the Town or County runs water and sewer lines up your street, you will be assessed betterment charges for this work, irrespective of whether you choose to connect or not. If you elect to connect, there will also be a payment for that. The main line contractor will usually have a line item for house connections if you have the work done at the time of the work in the street. Some towns around here are now requiring subdivision contractors to provide these dry lines in their streets, even if there are no immediate plans to connect that subdivision, just to avoid the unpopularity of these fees.

Last edited by Plynck; 03-20-2008 at 12:45 PM..
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  #21  
Old 03-20-2008, 01:29 PM
robby robby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plynck
I think that I'm just going to change my sig line to "What robby said".


Quote:
Originally Posted by Plynck
...If something happens to the main lines (the lines in the street or public way), that's not your problem.
Exactly--they're my problem. Speaking of which, I need to get back to work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plynck
One caveat, however: If the Town or County runs water and sewer lines up your street, you will be assessed betterment charges for this work, irrespective of whether you choose to connect or not. If you elect to connect, there will also be a payment for that.
Sometimes homeowners are required to connect, whether they want to or not. However, municipalities often offer no-interest or low-interest loans to homeowners to pay for the betterment and/or connection fees.
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Old 03-20-2008, 01:50 PM
Carson O'Genic Carson O'Genic is offline
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Relating to septic systems.A Zable filter is a low cost device added post tank that can greatly extend the life of leach fields.Your pumping contractor can spray it off during his scheduled visit.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:30 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robby
In Connecticut, when selling a house with well water/septic, it's typical for the buyer to require that the septic tank be pumped and the system inspected. Typically, the seller pays for the pumping, and the buyer pays for the inspection. For the well, typically the buyer pays for a water test during the inspection period.
Our state, which may be typical, requires that if a system is determined to be failing, it MUST be replaced within one year whether the deal goes through or not. So we Realtors try to order that test last (other tests give buyers and sellers more flexibility to decide what/when to fix or not fix).

Last edited by Musicat; 03-20-2008 at 04:32 PM.. Reason: fixed wrong quote
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