Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.

If you've found help here, check back in to let us know how everything worked out.
It's a great way to thank those who helped you.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Septic/well system

CanuckerCanucker Member Posts: 562
I thought this might just be the best place to get some knowledge that I'm currently lacking. A series of fortuitous events have led to the possibility of purchasing a large property that is located out of town. It has a well and septic system. In trying to do my due diligence, I have to admit that I have no experience living with either for any length of time, let alone on a property that I may purchase. So, getting to the point, what should I be looking for/asking about the well and septic? What are the deal breakers I should be trying to avoid? At this point I'm trying to get a knowledge base just so I can ask the right questions, so I figure this would be the best place to ask. Thanks in advance.

This is the listing, if you're curious
http://www.remax.ca/on/thorndale-real-estate/na-22076-nissouri-rd-ldnst_582351-lst/
You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two

Comments

  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,393
    There are a lot of properties which depend on wells and septic systems! They are hardly unique -- is some places they are the only thing available.

    To look for. On the well, it would not be a bad idea to have the water tested for drinking water. This is a fairly straightforward test and, in fact, the local public health folks may do it for free.

    You may or, more likely, may not be able to get information about the depth to water, depth to pump, type of pump, and yield of the well -- and on yield, most residential wells don't have a usable yield test anyway. If the plumbing is done right, even a remarkably anaemic well will be more than adequate for most uses.

    Obviously, you should know where the well is...

    Septic systems are pretty simple: you have a septic tank and a leaching field. Some jurisdictions require that the septic tank be pumped out as part of a property transfer. It should be done, whether it's required or not. You should also find out exactly where the leaching field is, and if at all possible when it was installed. Again, your public health people may have this information. You would do well to inspect the leaching field area, although a truly failed field, while pretty obvious, is also pretty rare. A failed field is not a deal breaker -- but the cost of repair/replacement should be factored in, in the odd chance that you should encounter that.

    As to longevity and using the house? As far as use, not much different from living on city water and city sewer -- except for one thing: I have always recommended against garbage grinders. They are bad enough on city sewage, but they are really tough on septic systems. Otherwise chances are you'll never notice any difference.

    If you have more detailed questions, feel free to PM me -- I've been working with wells and septic systems for most of my professional career -- say five decades or so!
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    edited May 2016
    Jamie covered most of it. If I had the luxury, I'd also ask for a draw-down test on the well and a perc test on the septic leachfield.
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Member Posts: 901
    Definitely have a water test done along with a flow test. Some loans you get have that as a requirement. I think with FHA the well has to flow at least 5gpm. but can't remember. Get a full water test to make sure you don't have such things as arsenic or iron. That would let you know if the water would need to be treated.
    Rick
  • CanuckerCanucker Member Posts: 562
    Thank you gentlemen, the info is appreciated.
    @Jamie Hall I may take you up on the offer, depending how far this process goes, thanks.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • CondomanCondoman Member Posts: 58
    I live in Connecticut and the rule here is the well head must be at least 75 feet from the septic.

    Other than that a rule of thumb: "If it does not go through you (a human), it does not go in the septic", TP excepted.
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,370
    Pays to check history of water table. Sometimes cycle means trucked in water.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,393
    jumper said:

    Pays to check history of water table. Sometimes cycle means trucked in water.

    Shouldn't be a problem where the house in question is. It can be a problem with very old shallow wells -- in which case the remedy is a better, deeper well, which should be done for safety anyway! -- or in the midwestern US and prairie Canada, or especially in California, both of which are areas where the good folks who live there are mining water -- that is, taking more out of the ground than can be recharged by natural precipitation.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,144
    edited May 2016
    Condoman; so you are saying that grey water should not go thru the septic tank? (In CT anyway)
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,393
    I hope not. In Connecticut, it should and, in any event, it must go into the leach field. I'm not saying that this is the best way to do it, mind, but it is the way it is required to be done. The whole thing can get a little complicated... but a properly sized septic tank and leach field combination is pretty close to bulletproof (except, as I noted, garbage grinders -- that's a matter of excess very poorly digestible (in the sewage treatment sense!) solids, which septic tanks don't like).

    There is the matter of nitrate contamination of ground water. This can be a very serious problem in some restricted watersheds (and rivers/lakes/sounds/ whatever) and is surprisingly intractable -- although again, a properly designed leach field can reduce or very nearly eliminate it as a problem.

    And on the subject of what gets into the system... we used to have a saying that if it could be flushed, it would turn up in the sewers eventually, and you'd better design to handle it! You wouldn't believe what a pair of panty hose can do to a centrifugal pump...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,144
    So years ago rural homeowners wanted the grey water to be connected to the outlet of the septic tank, (leach field). In their mind the less that went into the tank the better. I plumbed accordingly to their wishes. Only the WC's and maybe the wet vent lav sink would go to the tank.

    This was fine until one home which was VA financed, they inspected the plumbing DWV and said all must go thru the tank. They were the ones with the checkbook so money talks.
    (Actually it was surprising that they went into the crawlspace to see that drainage set up).

    Just a few years ago I read an article about not putting grey water into the leach/drainage fields. It seem that the kit sink discharge of grease and detergent would build up in the field and plug the slots of the piping...........it is easier to pump out a septic tank than clean out a drainfield is the way I see it now.
    (Also they noted the concern of any fecal matter from showering or laundry going to the drain field untreated :'( )......how has the human race made it this far???.......I never have seen a hand washing sink at any outhouse that I have ever used.

    I was only the "inside" plumber then and now avoid most plumbing jobs if possible. Last week a customer of 20 years ago called about his drain tile/field being blocked and backing up in the floor drain when the washer pumped out. He has only one lateral that can be augured without much grief. We discussed the grey water system and he may decide to run all thru the tank.
  • CondomanCondoman Member Posts: 58
    No, gray water is fine. I was just repeating what the septic inspector said at the pre-closing and required inspection.

    And absolutely no garbage spinners.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Kitchen sinks are considered black water and are piped to the septic along with the toilets. The rest of the drains get piped to a 3-way valve (or a pair of ball valves) so it can be sent either to the garden or to the septic. At least that's how it's done here.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,393
    SWEI said:

    Kitchen sinks are considered black water and are piped to the septic along with the toilets. The rest of the drains get piped to a 3-way valve (or a pair of ball valves) so it can be sent either to the garden or to the septic. At least that's how it's done here.

    That's much the best way to do it -- assuming that your local plumbing and public health folks will let you. Gets the grease and so on from the kitchen sink into the septic tank, which can handle it. Dishwasher too, if you have one.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    Gets the grease and so on from the kitchen sink into the septic tank, which can handle it. Dishwasher too, if you have one.

    Unless there's a grease trap in the line, as I recently learned. They want them teed in downstream in order to prevent the effluent (a slug of very hot water and soap) from emulsifying the grease in the trap.
  • MikeL_2MikeL_2 Member Posts: 196
    When testing the well water for potability & physical characteristics, include a test for radon; radon aeration systems can be costly.
    A wells recovery rate, depth, and static water level help determine pump size - chances are a smaller pump ( 1/3, 1/2 hp) may indicate plenty of water / recovery and a high static level.
    High static levels are not always ideal; low ph water will corrode iron well casings and could elevate the waters iron count, often, you can get an idea of well water quality by inspecting toilet tanks, or drawing water from the bottom of tank type water heaters .........
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!