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Coffee with Cate: Septic Inspector

Hello again! Carine and I recently decided to start a series of blog posts showcasing the people typically involved in the sale of a home (besides a real estate agent, of course!). Today, I sat down with Chris Sudano to discuss the role of a septic inspector in the sale of a home. Keep reading to learn more!

For someone who may not know, what is a septic inspection?

A Septic inspection is an evaluation of all components of the septic system onsite. A proper septic inspection involves opening the septic tank to locate and evaluating the condition of tank baffles or tees, checking the scum and sludge levels, and confirming that the Wastewater is at the proper operating level; at the bottom invert of the tanks outlet pipe. If the level is below the outlet pipe, it is likely there is a leak in the tank. If the levels are above the bottom invert of the septic tank, it is an indication that there is an issue in the septic field area. After the tank, we open and inspect the distribution system, Junction and Distribution Boxes, and Septic fields. The are many type of septic fields other than the widely known Stone and Pipe Trench, such as Leaching Pits, Concrete Galleries, Plastic Chambers and other proprietary systems.  The type of fields will be identified and evaluated. The septic inspection will confirm the condition of the system on the day of the inspection, determine if it is functional or not functional, and call out any repairs needed or potential issues noted. 

Do you find septic systems all over Westchester or just in specific towns?

The majority of Northern Westchester have Septic Systems. We find the majority of septic systems in towns from North Salem all the way down to Armonk. Rye and Harrison have a handful of septics and very few in White Plains. Septics are found in the towns that do not have Sanitary Sewer Systems in residential areas.

Why is a septic inspection important?

A septic system is one of, if not the most expensive system of a home. My Uncle always said putting in a new septic is like burying a Cadillac! Septic inspections will identify issues that can be addressed early before that issue causes full system failure. Some septic systems have been maintained well and some have not. Some new septic system owners may be pouring cooking oil and Grease down the drain, which, if not addressed early, will turn a 4 inch pipe into a 1/2 inch pipe and clog up the receiving soil in the field area. We tell homeowners to look at septic inspections as you look at changing the oil in your car. If you take care of it and it is maintained, the system will last. If not, it is likely to fail prematurely. When buying a home, the buyer should be informed about what is happening underground and what condition the septic they are inheriting is in. Educating the buyer on how a septic works and proper maintenance will make the homeowners life much easier and help prevent any unwanted, unexpected and very costly repairs in the future. 

How much does a septic inspection cost?

Our septic inspection is currently $600 per system.  If there are more than 1 septic system at the home, we charge $600 per system. 

How long does a septic inspection take?

The typical septic inspection takes about an hour to an hour and a half depending on how difficult it is to find all components and access to each component. 

What are myths about septic systems?

So many people moving up from the city that have never had a septic system hear horror stories about septics and how expensive they are to repair and replace. I have had friends that won’t even consider looking at a home because it has a septic and isn’t on city sewer. The fact is that if maintained, a septic is actually less expensive than being on city sewer. Sewer systems are older and are experiencing many issues lately. A homeowner is responsible for the sewer components from the house to the street connection and depending on the distance and lift needed to connect to the street, repairs and replacement of a sewer line can be more expensive than a septic. Also, an older septic system is NOT always a bad thing. We have seen 98 year old septic systems that are in just as good shape as 10 year old systems because they were properly maintained and not overused. 

What is the best way to maintain a septic system? How often should you pump?

Septic maintenance begins with what goes down the toilet and drains. The only things that should be flushed is human waste and toilet paper and nothing else. Nothing should go down the sink and shower drains other than water from the faucet and the soap and shampoo/conditioners used. Cooking fats, oils and grease should never be put down a drain. Garbage disposals are NOT recommended and should not be used with septic systems. Never flush any paint, chemicals, paper towels, coffee grinds, tobacco, sanitary products, or backwash from water treatment systems such as water softeners. A full list can be found on our Website and Facebook and Instagram Pages.  The other major part of septic maintenance is having the tank pumped every 2 to 3 years.  When a septic is not pumped every 2 to 3 years, the scum and sludge levels can build up and eventually push solids out of the tank and into the fields causing premature failure. Also, inspecting the septic system every year will help identify issues that can be easily fixed at a minor expense before it turns into a major issue and great expense. Annual inspections will also determine your water usage and if there has been anything going into the septic system that shouldn’t be which can be addressed prior to resulting in a major issue. 

For more information about septic inspections, please don't hesitate to reach out to Chris Sudano at [email protected] or find more information online at sudanoseptic.com!

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