What I'm Seeing Now

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The Disapppearing Disposal - Twice In One Week!

On recent home inspections, I had the disappearing disposal - twice in one week!

I pay attention when notes are left for me at home inspections.  They are usually very helpful.  Sometimes they are downright devious. 

The most recent was yesterday.  The photos would have been very similar to these posted here.

In each house there was a note that said something like, "Since there is a septic system, you will notice there is no disposal."

How nice.

This is a note left by a "savvy" real estate agent, or a "savvy" seller convincing a not-so-savvy real estate agent that the house has been really well cared for!  Somebody knows that it is really best NOT to have a disposal with a septic system.  And if there is one, great care needs to be taken with what is put into it.

But in each of these houses with the helpful note, there was a switch on the wall that seemed to control nothing.

Since there was another switch in BOTH houses that controlled the light over the sink, what oh what could the useless switch do?

SWITCHES AREN'T IN WALLS FOR NO REASON.

In both houses, there was brand-new drain plumbing under the sink.

AND UNBELIEVABLY IN BOTH HOUSES THERE WAS A BARE CABLE HANGING THERE, CONNECTED TO NOTHING, WITH THE END SIMPLY CLIPPED OFF!

Not curled up in the corner, no wire nuts over the ends of the bare wires, simply hanging there.  And the end clipped off!

AND WHEN THE SWITCHES IN BOTH HOUSES WERE TURNED ON THE CABLES WERE HOT!

I always tease my clients a bit asking them to hold my hand as I touch the end of the cable and they turn on the switch.

For some reason they don't want to hold my hand!  Reason unknown...

AND IN BOTH CASES, THE SEPTIC FIELDS HAD PROBLEMS, WITH YESTERDAY'S SMELLING AS BAD AS ANY SEPTIC FIELD I HAVE EVER BEEN PRIVILEGED TO WALK ON TOP OF!  GEE, COULD THESE "SAVVY" PEOPLE KNOW THERE ARE SEPTIC PROBLEMS TOO?

Hmmm...

Was the Golden Rule tarnished yet again?  Hearts truly are growing colder.

My recommendation:  I expect there are those who get away with sneaking things past their buyers and/or home inspectors.  But it really is low brow and when the inspector does figure things out (not too hard in both cases above) it puts a real kibosh on the sale.  The lack of trust created is very, very hard to overcome.

In both of these cases the buyers decided to back out.  And not because of anything I said.  Just because of the lack of trust generated by such an overtly sneaky act.

P.s.  In both houses there was a breaker in the panel box labeled "Disposal."  Often it is spelled "Dispozel," but still it's pretty clear...  And such notes are really, really not very smart.


 

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 35 commentsJay Markanich • February 19 2012 04:00AM

Comments

I wonder why they thought they could get away with it?  Even I with my small minuscule mind could figure that one out.  Enjoy the day

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 6 years ago

So jay, are you thinking they had this disconnected just prior to closing?  Honestly, when I moved in my home, had a new septic installed, i had the garbage disposal removed but the switch still remains but not hot!  Interesting and devious what you found

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Oh yes, not very smart at all...well unless the objective is to kill the deal.  People need to remember that even if they fool the buyer, they won't usually fool the inspector and it's way worse to lose the deal then.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay. I have seen this from time to time. I have even seen them were the bare wires have been left exposed. What can I say but shocking! Absolutely shocking...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Very interesting. In your report your referred to the panel box as the "deal Breaker'. Keep them coming.

Posted by Erv Fleishman, Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates (Realty Associates) over 6 years ago

Nicely said and nicely done. Good luck and hope you sell a lot of homes this year. Great job. 

Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) over 6 years ago

James - I don't know why they think they can get away with it.  But just the fact that they are trying is a big head's up.

Yes, Ginny, I am thinking that.  The plumbing under the sinks is brand new!  One was comically unprofessional!  And who is the devious one?

Debbie - and worst case, they get it by everybody and someone inherits this dangerous mess.  What a world...

Michael - I do too, but twice in one week?  Same thing?  That used to be shocking and now it is getting toward the word "expected."

Erv - this little circumstance wasn't the only deal breaker here!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Thanks Josh.  Inspecting is getting more difficult, I think.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay, good post.

Garbage disposals are real killers to septic systems. Here in New Hampshire, new homes built with a septic system and garbage disposal require the treatment tank to be 50% larger. So, in a 4 bedroom home that usually has a 1500 gallon treatment tank, the tank would be increased by 750 gallons.

Maine requires a filter in the outlet baffle but these filters need frequent cleaning, often more than the pumping schedule.

Another killer of septic systems is the backwash from water softening system. The salt in these systems are backwashed into the main drain and go out into the treatment tank and kill the healthy bacteria that helps break down the sludge. New Hampshire now allows the backwash from water treatment system to back wash into a dry well.

Posted by Peter Russell (Russell Inspection Services LLC) over 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay....it's illegal to install a garbage disposal if you have private sewage ..... thank god for town sewer.... I really enjoy reading the outrageously dangerous things you find during your inspections....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 6 years ago

Agreed to all Peter!  I have seen disposals made for septic systems, but don't have enough information to know how well they do.  And in both cases above the septic system had problems.  Why?  And one of these houses did have a softener that flushed into the septic system!  But it was bypassed and unplugged!  Hmmm...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Hi Miss B.  And thanks!  Some things are outrageous and others are dangerous!  Hence the posts!

Hey, I see from my very cool desk calendar that today is the 19th...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

I skeptical of those disposal that are "septic safe". To early to tell if they actually work. Had a bad system the other day. The inspector opened the D box, which was full of gook and cigarette butts. Another killer of leaching fields. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

I agree Jim.  I have read some things that don't turn me on or off as to those disposals.  And cigarette butts!  Wow, why not just flush a couple of wind breakers down the toilet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

The problem with garbage disposals is the food particles become suspended in the clear liquid layer instead of sinking to the bottom of the treatment tank. Suspended food particles can then flow out of the tank with the effluent. Eventually these particles make their way into the effluent disposal area where they clog the field.

Garbage disposal and septic systems are just a bad idea.

Posted by Peter Russell (Russell Inspection Services LLC) over 6 years ago

Food particles make their way on to the leaching field eventually rendering it useless. If you have a septic and a garbage disposal get it pumped once a year or more often if you have a large family.

Posted by Edward Gilmartin (CRE) over 6 years ago

I had one of those systems with a filter... what a pain that was! Every 6 weeks or so I was digging it up and washing out the filter. Not my way of enjoying a day off!

Peter, you are right, water softener backwash water will kill your bacteria. I actually made my own french drain and routed that water to drain there. I'm not really a sptic fan anymore, although they can be very effective if treated properly.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 6 years ago

Swish I could borrow you here in Cary/raleigh nc.   Good blog.

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) over 6 years ago

This is why it is vital to hire a professional home inspector before purchasing a home. Good stuff

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 6 years ago

wow! yet another thing to look for when evaluating homes!  thanks for the tip

Posted by Margo Otey (REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay - Many people do not know that disposals and septic tanks should not be used together.  This is a valuable post.

Posted by FN LN over 6 years ago

Just when I thought I had heard it all.  That's certainly a new one.

Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) over 6 years ago

Jay, at least the switch and wire are there for when they get around to hooking the house up to the city sewer :)  Most jurisdictions around here do not allow disposals on septic systems and some city jurisdictions are thinking of banning them all together because of the demands they place on treatment plants.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Thanks Peter.  I haven't any information on those disposals that are "made" for septic systems.  What you say sure holds though.  Particles would have to clog the field eventually.

Edward - around here the counties make sure you pump it on at least a schedule they demand, and send you post cards to send back with the license number of the company that pumps it!

Fred - c'mon!  That sounds like a very wonderful day off.  Good idea on the Freedom drain too.

Thanks B&B!  But, no plans to go there any time soon.

Harry - this and a million other reasons!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

You're welcome Margo.  There are between a yillion and a zillion reasons to inspect a home.

Marc - I expect that to be true as I see them all the time!

J&R - you will never see or hear it all!  FYI...

Charlie - you and I know why to leave it!  But they pretend it isn't there.  I have no problem with it if terminated correctly, as you know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Hey Jay...do people really believe we're as unobservant and idiotic as they are.  What's the saying?  "Stupid people are breeding" and ruining their septic systems on the way.  Interesting about the breaker box label...duh!

Posted by Hillary Sheperd, Co-Owner ~ Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon, NY (Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon) over 6 years ago

  We do have some homes with septic systems in the more rural parts of the markets we serve....none that we have seen to date with garbage disposals....and the non mechanical Hanson that I am ....even I know that....blog on !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 6 years ago

Thanks Hillary.  If we are going to hide things, we have to hide everything!  Some "savvy" people really aren't!

S&D - I think they knew that too, which is why they wanted us to "think" there wasn't one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

I have seen this before and I tried to tell the seller he needed to disclose this.  But he would not.  It was disclosed to the buyer although he was opposed to it.

Posted by Vern Eaton, Realtor 651-674-7449 over 6 years ago

Jay, That is a good one. Sure hope the leach field is okay.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

I feel like my intelligence is being insulted when I see stuff like that.  The people who write notes like that must think we're really, really dumb.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Vern - but even if disclosed, previous problems created by having had a disposal still remain.  But, you're right, it's best when the seller knows everything.

Don - on both houses there were problems!

Reuben - could be.  If you are going to try to cover your tracks, you have to cover them all!  What do you do about the panel box, and why would you want to screw that up anyway!?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, I learned a lot from your post and from reading the comments.  I was unaware of the damage a disposal unit or water softener could do to a septic system.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 6 years ago

Jay -- they could have disconnected the wiring in the switch box, to keep the power from flowing into the cut wire, or even thrown the circuit breaker (since removing it would have opened up another hole in their story).

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 6 years ago

Quite a lot actually Chris.  Especially when the wrong stuff is continually put down there.

Steven - with all that being hot, it says they were in a hurry.  But still trying to be savvy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

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