Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Sanitation System Checklist - Consult Before Buying Somebody Else's Problem

Given that nearly half of all the homes in America are on septic systems, anyone buying a home outside major metropolitan areas has a one in two chance of ending up with a septic system. Few states require inspection of sanitation systems before allowing homeowners to sell. The assumption is that you, the potential buyer, will do your own inspection. The same would be true when buying commercial buildings. Here is a walk-through list of what to ask and what to do.
What type of sanitation is in place?
If the property has city hookup, what is the monthly fee?
If the property is new but permitted for city hookup, what will be the cost?
With city sewer hookup you need go no further with this checklist.
What sanitation system is in place?
When was it first used?
What records are available showing problems, repairs and any alterations?
Without a trustworthy maintenance record you are about to buy a pig in a poke.
Third If the sanitation system is a septic system, ask these questions:
When was it installed?
Have there been any problems?
Where is the maintenance documentation?
What is the cost of operating the system?
How often does it need routine monitoring and servicing?
How long is the system expected to last?
Fourth Ask to inspect the leech field.
The leech field is the area where perforated lines have been laid below the ground surface. Treated waste is dispersed through these lines and discharges into the ground. Look for pools of water and areas of mud on the surface of this area. These would be indicators that the treated waste matter is not percolating into the ground properly: a red flag.
Look for ruts and tire tracks. Driving a vehicle, tractor or heavy machinery over a leechfield can crack or compress the leech lines: a red flag.
Check for the access manhole cover where the septic system would be pumped. Also check for how the system's tanks or treatment chambers are accessed. In both cases be sure the access is secured against a small child accidentally falling or climbing into the system. Any access covers should be out of the traffic pattern of vehicles and machinery so as to ensure that the cover will not be accidentally be damaged or loosened. This is important in places where snow could cover them to the point that a driver would not know they are there.
Fifth If the property does not have city hookup or a septic system ask these questions about the alternative system:
What is the system?
When was it installed?
How long is it expected to last?
How does it work?
What does it cost to operate?
What are you supposed to do to keep the system operating well?
What problems have there been and when did the problems occur?
What was the solultion and how much did it cost?
Where are the service and maintenance records?
Then: ask for a demonstration.
Remember: aside from the toilet, most of a home's sanitation system is hidden from view. That makes it easy to take for granted that everything is in working order. The tendency is to ignore what is not visible. Sanitation is one of the hidden foundations on which any civilization rests. At the current time in our history that foundation could be in considerably better condition than is the case!
Losoncy is the president of Clean Up America, Inc, a company that markets a new type of waterless toilet/sanitation system known as the Eloo. To learn more about Eloos go to

Lawrence Losoncy - EzineArticles Expert Author