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septics/wells


setterguy

Question

I know this is a little outside of the realm of fishing/hunting but I figure there are plenty of guys on this board that will have some info for me. I am looking at possibly moving a little farther away from the city and some of the houses that I have been looking at have septic systems and wells. Now being a city boy my whole life I have a few questions:

1. What is the difference in annual cost with these systems in regards to upkeep opposed to city water and sewer bills.

2. What questions should I ask about the systems? All the houses I am looking at are about 10 years old, is there a life span on these?

3. Are there any major problems that can arrise and how often do they occur? Last year I heard of a lot of septics freezing due to the deep frost line.

4. Any other input you in the know may have would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance guys!!!

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SG, I live in the country and have for 8 years, the only difference I could think of cost wize is electric costs.( elec. is more expensive in rural areas) to maintain it just bleach the whole system once per year if need be. generaly a new well costs around $5000 and up.

FYI, most banks will want some proof that the well and septic are up to code if your morgaging the home, if I remember right the seller is responsible for getting that proof.

if your potential home is built where there is sand/gravel or better yet your septic then they could go on working for ever as long as you pump out the tank regularily. you might be concerned if the soil is heavy clay and a lot of people have used the system since new..?
if your real concerned have a septic guy check it for peace of mind, to find out just what kind of system you have. mound systems are very good and very spendy.

freezing septics are most commonly caused by a leaky faucet or, the condensation line from the high eficency furnaces putting small amounts of water in your drain, with alot of usage there shouldnt be a problem, (with out leaks) most of the time its the pipe from the house to the tank that freezes. the bacteria in the tank and drain field keep them from freezing.

Im no well/septic guy, I build homes, hopfully some others will give ya some pointers. good luck!

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Settleguy

I have lived in the country for over 15 years and never have had a problem with my well or septic. as far as manitance you will need to have the septic pumped out ever four to five years depending on how many are in your family and how big the holding tank is. most newer system that have been put in are usally a 1500 galon tank. dropping a box of rid-x down the tank once a year would also helpful to promote break down of the solids. put my new well in in 1991 and have never done anything to it it just keeps pumpimg out the water. if you are looking at a place that already has a well and septic in, contact the health department to see if they have any info on it. most newer systems should be on record. have the selling party do a check of the well for different bacteria, that will sometimes grow. Also if you are thinking of buying a place, have it put in the agreement that the seller will have property inspected and everything brought up to code. hope this helps

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I've actually helped install various septic systems when I worked in construction years ago. Septic systems should last a very long time if maintained. Opsirc gave some good advice, so I won't repeat what was already mentioned.

You can go to the county courthouse and pull the file on the entire property you would like to purchase. It would include all the info on the septic and well. There should be drawings to scale of how the system was set-up on the property and the county employees can answer some of your questions/concerns if it is a good system for the house, or how much it can handle for the amount of residents in the home, etc...

I place a thick amount of leaves over my drain field lines every fall for added insulation (in case of lack of snow). It's a good thing I did last fall because my drain field was one of few in the area to work properly last winter. All of my neighbors and friend's systems froze solid or had some problems.

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Setterguy,
There are a ton of variables that you will be working with! I will list a few things to keep in mind.

Alot depends on the county and township and I am speaking of Isant and Kanabec county. In isanti they have rules on how old a septic system can be. The holding tanks in the older days (early 80s and before) could be contructed of 22 1/2 deg blocks or poured sides both not having a bottom. Even if it feels like a bottom some guys will pour a sack of concrete down the hole so it appear to have one. If this is the case you will need a new system. You are then in store for a perk test to design the type of system you will need. Most systems going in are county are mound systems which is a holding tank that pumps up to a above ground drain field. Cost of this system will average 8 to 10 thousand. Even if you are in sand! It all depends on the soil sample and if there is a hard pack area in the soil. Yes you can go to the county and try to get info but if it is a older house it hasnt always been required(welcome to the country). Many people used to and still install there own septic system. The county now states that it must be inspected before selling and there is a bunch of other instances in must be inspected. Most mortgage companys also require it to be inspected before the loan will go.

Same thing goes for your well. You will have to have a water test done for the mortgage company. It mainly tests for nitrates. If there to high you will have to install a reverse osmosis system (150 to 300). Nitrates can also change year to year depending usually on what the farmers are doing to the fields and how deep the well is. Deeper is better but be warned there is alot of hard water out there and a water softner is a must!

My advice is find a good realator in the area that nows the laws.

Ok long anuff for now let me know if you have more questions.

------------------
www.bucketrack.com
Hey nice Rack

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Here are some of the things that I've seen septic systems fail from.

Freezing--from sags in the line to the tank, non insulated pipes under sidewalks/driveways etc, compaction of soil in drainfeiled, shallow covered tank not insulated

Failed drainfields--Compaction of soil in drainfield, ADDING THINGS TO TANK TO HELP DISSOLVE SOLIDS!!(This just make the solids liqiud enough to enter and ruin ones drainfield), non pumping tank from manhole cover (solids will remain on edges of tank and when tank becomes full again solids will get under baffle un plug drainfield), not using clean sand in a mound system, broken baffel in tank, FOG Fats Oils and Greases.

The best thing for a tank is to get it pumped properly every 3-4 years and keep records.

Every county has a different ordinance with diff rules. Most banks will require a Cert of Compliance for a new mortgage. State laws only require seller to give disclosure which means to the best of their knowledge.

[This message has been edited by HOGEYE (edited 10-22-2003).]

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Thanks guys I knew I could depend on you. The specific house we are looking at has been inspected so I will have to read that a little more thouroghly. The house is ony 11 years old so I assume that the codes haven't changed a lot in that time period but I guess you never know. Thanks again for the replies, know at least I have some ideas of what to ask!!

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Depending on the county, the SELLER may have to upgrade the septic. My house is 12 years old and has a trench system (legal at the time) and now if I were to sell, I would have to put in a mound system because of the soil conditions. Neighbor just sold, same age house, and they were forced to upgrade.

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1 - Check with local county Env. Services dept. or dept that handles dealing with septic systems. If there has already been a current inspection with the system then county, seller, or inspector should have a record of this. You should then receive a certificate of compliance from the county stating that the system is up to date and working fine. Basic costs are going to be cost of the pump running in the pump tank and it is suggested that at a minimum once every three years you have your tanks pumped. I am assuming that you don't have full gravity distribution to a trench type system but have pressure distribution to a mound/at-grade system??? One point to remember. Pumpers are "suppose" to fully remove the covers from the tanks and backflush them to fully remove the sludge build up on the bottom of the tank. Some only pump out of the inspection ports on the tank and only get the liquid and not the solids. Other thing is not to be driving anything heavy over the mound/treatment area. Freezing shouldn't be a problem with an existing mound. Usually only on those new systems and ones that don't have constant/regular water use. Where are you moving to? I may be able to get you in touch with some people that can help out.

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