Ever have to replace a divider wall in a concrete septic tank?

My house was being inspected as a condition of sale today.

They went to far as to dig up the septic tank, and my agent just told me that the inspector says the divider wall needs replaced.

I’m Googling around, but just wondered if anyone here had an experience with this.

The tank is original, so about 25~27 years old.

I’ve heard of it being done. How big is the tank? Once the excavation is done you might find other problems and have to replace the whole thing, which may not cost that much more, but I’d be prepared to know what that full replacement price would be before you get started. I’m waiting to hear from my excavation contractor and I’ll ask him if he actually gets back to me (as an aside he’s making me very suspicious because he’s not asking to settle up the bill even though the work is complete as far as I know).

I have no idea how big the tank is. I’ve only ever exposed the cover to have it pumped. I guess it would be the normal size for a normal residential house, whatever that is.

Probably recorded by your local government, though not always up to date after a replacement or correct. My first house had a 15,000 gallon concrete septic tank marked on the plans. Nobody believed it, they all said it must be an error and it was really only 1500 gallons. When we finally had it cleaned it was 15,000 gallons. I found out from the builder that it was mistakenly ordered for an apartment building that he was building at the same time. Right, ‘mistakenly’.

Sounds like a shitty job too me.
Whoever does it deserves every dollar they are paid. :smiley:

Here’s my standard formula for major repair: Is the repair cost greater than 50% of the replacement cost? If yes, replace.

I’ve never had it done but, with the knowledge I have of septic tanks, I’m betting replacement is going to be a better option in the long run.

Oh, I’m sure the buyer will think that replacement is better in the long run too. So, now all this has to be fed back into the negotiations and the song and dance starts all over again.

I don’t think you necessarily even* had *a baffle wall. I am no expert, my experience is from installing my own septic system 15 years ago. My 1000 gallon concrete tank only has one cover, meaning no baffle wall. I don’t remember it even being presented as an option. How old do you think your system is and why are they saying they think the baffle wall failed?
ETA just saw the age in the OP.

So if they dug it out (amazing. who pays for that?) they can inspect it. So they can see if it actually has a baffle wall.
I still am having trouble with an inspection, digging out around the tank.
Whatever happens, I would replace it at this point. The excavation is probably at least as expensive as the tank.

You didn’t say what your original tank was made of. If it’s steel, it’s shot full of holes already. If concrete, it should be OK (mine is 40 years old with no leaks), but adding or replacing only a divider seems like an odd job – ask a septic installer if this can be done.

Most new tanks nowadays are fiberglass and considering the age of yours, maybe replacement is the best option. But don’t overlook the drain field – they don’t last forever, and if yours needs to be re-sited, a new tank might be a necessary part of the formula.

Spoken as a homeowner and Realtor, but not septic installer.

All I know is what my agent relayed to me today from the inspector.

I guess I’ll wait for the report and see what it says.

There definitely is a wall between the solids and liquids. I’ve seen it when I uncover it for pumping. There are two openings: a small inspection port and the full access port.

I thought ALL septic tanks had a separation wall. Isn’t that germane to their operation?

Who pays for it is specified in the Purchase Contract (the signed Offer to Purchase).

So am I. If you want to see if there is a baffle, all you need to do is look in the tank thru the cover and/or lower a video camera.

I’m wondering why an excavation is needed for an inspection. I never heard of that, and I handle rural real estate sales on a daily basis.

Again, I’m not a septic system expert, but I thought a baffle to discourage solids from entering the drain field was standard, and integral to the tank. Maybe yours is broken/breached?

This is what my tank looks like. (small pdf) No baffle wall.
And as I’ve written before in the fairly regular septic threads we get , I’ve have never had it pumped. This summer for sure.

Poor wording on my behalf; they dug down to the access cover (~18"), opened it and inspected it. They didn’t, for obvious reasons, dig up the whole tank.

So this brings up another point. When did buyers start expecting a perfect house?
I agree with getting an inspection of course, and I know it is usually required by the mortgage lender. But in my very limited experience, the buyer can offer less for the property, and the seller can accept or not. The original price should reflect the age of the house and likely repair needs. For instance I wouldn’t drop the price of my house just because the new owner wanted to replace my perfectly good kitchen cabinets.
Unless the market was very poor, I think I would be unwilling to take on major repairs for something I was leaving. If I wanted or needed those things , I would have done them on my own.

Sorry for the hijack

No. Not a hijack, and you’re exactly right. He will come back with another proposal based upon the inspection.

I just need to get the hell out of here and move on with life.

I was just wondering what to expect as a counter proposal from him.

My dad did some septic work when I was growing up. Good guy, but worst sex talk ever.

It may be even easier to find out what the cost is for the repair and drop (at least to start) the cost of the house by that much, maybe a bit more and see what happens.

I’m also curious to know why it needs to be replaced. There’s a world of difference between it’s damaged and needs to be repaired or replaced to be brought up to code and Leaffan is now on the hook (legally?) to disclose this to all new potential buyers VS the inspector wants it replaced for any number of reasons, none of which are backed up by code/law.

IOW, if he said ‘Wow, that baffle is totally split in half and collapsed, it needs to be replaced’ yes, I you should probably deal with that in one way or another.
OTOH, if he glanced at it and said ‘well, this tank is 25 years old and I know those baffles tend to fail [marks down ‘replace baffle’], I’d like to see that get replaced’. You could leave it alone and tell the buyer that you’re not going to be replacing it or changing the price based on that.

You’ll have to wait to see what the report says. I’m sure a septic company will have no probably recommending a replacement/repair. Perhaps you can find someone that just does inspections like your local AHJ (if you want them out at your house).

Yep. I have to wait to see the report. I would hope it includes pictures.

The Purchase Offer, signed by all parties, governs. If the Buyers specified a perfect house and the Sellers agreed, that’s what they get unless renegotiated. If the Sellers cannot perform accordingly, the Buyers can withdraw from the Offer with minimal penalty (usually the return of earnest money).

Under current law in most states, and with typical contract language in mine, the Buyer has a reasonable expectation of WYSIWYG unless otherwise specified in the contract. If the roof looks intact to a casual inspection, it would be a major defect if it leaked buckets in every rainstorm. If the Seller specified that the condition was poor or unknown, the Buyer should act accordingly – adjust the initial offering price and/or insist on an inspection by a qualified party to get a passing grade. Buyer Beware is no longer considered to be a fair way of transacting business in real estate.