When you are purchasing a home, it is likely the largest investment you will make in your life and you want to protect that investment by doing as much due diligence as possible before you become the new owner. This includes a general home inspection and any specialist trades (plumping, electrical, heating/cooling, etc) But I am going to go into detail about an inspection that usually gets overseen... the septic system scoping inspection*
First of all, What is a Septic System?
A Septic System is also known as an onsite sewage system (OSS). Septic Systems are designed to help prevent the spread of illness and disease by collecting, treating and dispersing wastewater from a home into the native soils near the home. An OSS is typically made up of two or more components linked together with pipes. There are two general types of OSS available in Washington State; a Standard Gravity OSS, or an Alternative OSS. The unique site conditions for each individual lot (e.g., soil type and depth, size of lot, distance to surface waters, well, etc.) determine which type of OSS Can be installed. Different combinations of components may be used to best suit site conditions and owner preference.
-Reference; Kitsap County Public Health District; Homeowners guide to onsite sewage systems
When purchasing a home, Buyer's typically have a set time period to conduct all of their inspection of the home.
Hiring a professional for a general home inspection seams like a no-brainer, but what about the septic system?
But wait, isn't it the Sellers responsibility to have the septic pumped and inspected?
When Selling a home in Kitsap County, the Seller of the property must have the septic tank pumped and inspected by a licensed professional if not previously done within the last 12 months. The report is provided to the Buyers and in addition, the Seller applies for a County Health Letter at Kitsap County, and if the county finds the system satisfactory, the Health Letter is administered.
What these inspections do not include is a clear look into the distribution box (D- box) or the drainfield lines (also known as "laterals"). When a tank is pumped, the inspector looks into the tank and if the tank is in good condition the report is generally satisfactory- unless there are obvious signs of system failure.
The additional Septic Inspection that I recommend to by clients who are purchasing a home with a gravity septic system involves a camera scope from the main tank to the D-box, then down each lateral line. Many times these inspections uncover hidden problems, like a deteriorating D-box, clogged lateral lines, root intrusions, or collapsed lines.
Sometimes these issues can be repaired at minimal costs (like jetting the lateral lines to remove any buildup), but other times it can lead to needing a new septic system installed, which can cost thousands.
Every property and purchase is different so please be conscious of your due diligence period when you are purchasing a home. If you have any questions regarding your septic system in Kitsap County, visit kitsappublichealth.org/septic or call (360) 337-5235
*Septic Scoping Inspections cannot be done on alternative systems or pressure treated systems. But you can still have a professional inspect other components of the system.
If you have any questions about buying or selling a home in Kitsap County give me a call at (360) 621-8698 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org