Home inspectors find wells and/or septic systems, typically both, in properties usually in suburban and rural locations. Oddly, I inspected a house on Fernwood Road in Bethesda with a septic system. The property fronted the public road with a sewer line under the road, but the house had never been connected to the public system. A recent article in the May/June magazine Capital Area Realtor-Maryland was entitled “Fast Facts about Well and Septic Systems.” Homebuyers, homeowners and the Realtors® who serve them should be familiar with both systems, how the operate and how to care for them.
For information about septic systems, the University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has on its website an excellent article. Anyone with need for knowledge of septic systems should refer to the University of Maryland website.
Inspections are important for a real estate transaction. The U. of Md. article says “hire an inspector that says he or she will locate and unearth each and every component of the septic system and inspect it. A good inspector will also locate and open up the distribution box, and inspect it to ensure each tile line is receiving the same amount of effluent, and all are draining properly. This inspection will also show if solids have been allowed to escape the tank (An early warning sign of possible failure down the road). Looking into the distribution box is probably the most telling part of the inspection process.” Most home inspectors defer this inspection to septic installers.
The Realtor® magazine focuses on five factors. Septic systems require maintenance, they do not last forever, they should be inspected during a sale, all wells aren’t equal and neither Realtors® nor their clients need be intimidated by these systems. There is little mention of well water and testing. The CDC recommends an annual well water test. In most jurisdictions, water inspections must be performed by a licensed tester. Alban home inspectors hold Maryland water collection licenses and regularly collect water samples to be sent to a licensed laboratory for analysis.