What I'm Seeing Now

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Green Septic Field

Look at this picture carefully and try to determine where the septic field begins and ends.  Look carefully...  and you might just see it.

You are looking down a hill, and the slope is about 15 degrees.  It is a perfect place for a septic drain field, but this one does not seem to be percolating or draining properly.  Notice how dry the material around the field is, but not the field itself.

The spines of this system are running from where the photo is shot, and you can seel puffy "lines" (8 or 10) where the drain tile is located.  Something is happening that causes the effluent to move upward and feed the surface plants.  The bottom of the hill shows the most abundant vegetation.  I would call that lush!

A septic field should not look like a "green" roof! 

My recommendation:  When you and your clients are looking at a house with a septic field, take the time to walk over the field.  If you see defined lines, notice any odors, walk on smooshy ground or see unusually lush vegetation, like above, there is a problem that needs further investigation by a qualified septic specialist.

You know the old saying:  "Effluent flows down!"  Or something like that...

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 13 commentsJay Markanich • July 16 2009 06:20AM

Comments

Very good information and fair warning to home buyers.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) about 11 years ago

Usually its pretty easy to find a drain field by the grass color. Walking over it is a great idea. Squishing noises are not good!

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) about 11 years ago

Roy - well, thanks!  Call'em as you see'em.

Laura - I would go with that one too...  don't wear heels when walking a septic field!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

Jay in my county Washtenaw, it is mandatory to transfer a deed that the septic system and water be tested. It is required to be by a licensed inspector certified by the health dept.

Use to be an option...a buyer expense

Now required...a seller expense.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 11 years ago

Missy - this county inspects the field by "walking" it, and they require a bacteria and e-coli water test.  In this case, the house is conveying "as is," and this was enough to scare off these buyers.

This was not the only serious problem with this house.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

You know the old saying; The grass is always greener over the septic tank.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 11 years ago

James - I understand that asparagus is best over graves and septic fields.  I don't know that personally as I cannot put one in my mouth, but I HEAR that!  To me, it's a big yummie!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

Poop is a great organic (green) fertilizer. Who knows people may start letting their system fail and start gardens. Could be a new listing feature, nice lot with built in fertilizer making system.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 11 years ago

Erma Bombeck wrote a book "The grass is greener over the septic field". I always have my buyers get septic inspections as it is so important! Thanks for the post!

Betina

Posted by Betina Foreman, Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY (WJK Realty) about 11 years ago

I remember the first time me and my buyer client saw a clear outline of the septic field on a property.  It raised a flag in his head about that part of the lawn getting too much fertilizer.. :-)  

Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) about 11 years ago

James - it works, except for the bacteria, et al...

Betina - it usually is.

Susan - thanks!  I will work on some more!

Kris - he was right!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

Jay,

Here the country requires a septic inspection on every purchase. I actually know a home inspector who does them...not me.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 11 years ago

Steve - on an inspection once my clients and I exited the back door together just as the lid was removed from the septic tank.  Man!  The whole neighborhood knew what was going on!  We had to go back inside.  And the septic guys were overjoyed, excitedly looking inside, dancing around the opening to get the best purchase.  Interesting.....

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 11 years ago

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