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Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? #4813570
07/13/18 09:09 PM
07/13/18 09:09 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 4,408
Midwest USA
LoneRanger Offline OP
LoneRanger  Offline OP

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 4,408
Midwest USA
Built 1940, 1 acre lot and a septic and well system. My fiancee' likes it because it's in the rural area and I like it too, but I'm slammed to a stop about the fact it uses septic field bed for sewage and well for water and only because it's on just an acre and there is no where to do a new septic field or mound. System may be fine now, but "what if" ?

So probably avoid, yes? Municipal sewer and water may be available but tap-in cost is high.



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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813573
07/13/18 09:15 PM
07/13/18 09:15 PM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 314
Ada county Idaho
MRtv Offline
MRtv  Offline

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 314
Ada county Idaho
I'd say getting an inspector out there to look at it would be in order. I personally love well water. Septic is a solution where you are so far away from sewer services. So the question is are the two systems working? What will it take to get them to working if not? Is septic polluting well? A pro can get these answers for you.


2014 Nissan Versa Note 1.6 liter engine. 1997 Ford F150 4x4 4.6 liter engine.
Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813574
07/13/18 09:15 PM
07/13/18 09:15 PM
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,861
Ottumwa, Iowa
jhellwig Offline
jhellwig  Offline

Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,861
Ottumwa, Iowa
If you are in Iowa the seller has to update the septic system when they sell it unless it is an estate sale. Even if the system is less than ten years old it most likely will test bad.

Septic systems are low maintenance if they were built right.


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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813577
07/13/18 09:22 PM
07/13/18 09:22 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,807
Chicago, IL
tomcat27 Offline
tomcat27  Offline

Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,807
Chicago, IL
Check with county. My cottage in Michigan required 75 feet between well and septic. Well had to be through 10 feet of impenetrable layer. My well was 150 feet deep, even with a 10 foot water table


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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813578
07/13/18 09:24 PM
07/13/18 09:24 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,807
Chicago, IL
tomcat27 Offline
tomcat27  Offline

Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,807
Chicago, IL
Despite those rules, I could no longer have a septic. Lakefront now requires holding tanks for all septic. Cha ching. Needs to be emptied monthly. Ymmv.


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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813582
07/13/18 09:30 PM
07/13/18 09:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,428
PV Az @ 5000'
AZjeff Offline
AZjeff  Offline

Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,428
PV Az @ 5000'
Whatever the laws are where you are should be more important than opinions on BITOG. Here the seller has to have the septic tank pumped and the leach field has to pass a flow test before close of escrow. Lots of last minute leach field re-dos to close the sale.


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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813584
07/13/18 09:36 PM
07/13/18 09:36 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 2,590
Central NY
rsylvstr Offline
rsylvstr  Offline

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 2,590
Central NY
Going to be different everywhere.
After moving in a similar set up ten years ago we just paid $13k for new Leach field. Thatís without a new tank.


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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813590
07/13/18 09:43 PM
07/13/18 09:43 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 18,208
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
Chris142 Offline
Chris142  Offline

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 18,208
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
Nothing wrong with a septic or a well. Every howe around here is on septic and any built before the 90's has a well. The shop I work at is on septic.

My septic was put in around 1955. The tank was rusted out so we had it replaced in 2013. The leech line was replaced in the late 70's because someone planted trees too close to it and the roots plugged it up. My well was drilled in 1965 and still gives us 59f water. We get about 18 yrs out of a pump.

Last edited by Chris142; 07/13/18 09:44 PM.

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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813636
07/13/18 11:39 PM
07/13/18 11:39 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 6,145
Kalifornia Kollective
BrocLuno Offline
BrocLuno  Offline

Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 6,145
Kalifornia Kollective
OK, I agree with the above. Nothing wrong with septic as long as you keep it maintained. A great way to recycle your water (no flow through waste as a muni system) and you are independent of regulators and charges as long as it's functioning and historic. Same for well.

I'm on a river and have septic (1930's) and two wells. Kitchen well dug to ~70 ft in the 1940's - sanitary seal 20 ft. About 75 feet from one leach line. More than 100 feet from the other. They diverge in an L pattern. Second well is garden (wife has registered culinary garden - restaurant trade) and it's 120' deep with water table at 20' ... Sanitary seal for well number 2 is 50 ft.

Point being that is it's all maintained well, these systems can run well into the hundreds of years w/o trouble.

So, if you like the property, buy it. Live there and do incremental upgrades as time and budgets allow.

last year was first major repairs to septic in 85 years. Pumped and new lid installed with new rim seal and risers. One leach leg dug (by hand, two laborers) and reset with new drain rock, existing tiles, and new top seal. The old top seal had failed and dirt had in-filled the drain rock. Total cost was less than $3,000. Contracted teh tank lid and pump out. Hired the day labor to re-set the first leg of the leach field.

Works better than ever. In a few years, I'll have a couple of laborers dig up leg #2 and re-set it the same way. It'll be good for another 100 years at that point. Have the tank pumped every 20 years or so to get the "un-digestable" solids out of the tank.

Wells need new pumps and controls occasionally. New pressure tanks maybe every 30 years or so. Depends on if you do maintenance on a regular schedule ... The less maintenance, the more you'll be replacing stuff ...

Muni systems are why we have water shortages in the USA. They are almost all pass-through systems, and send their waste down stream. Require new water from upstream.

Well and septic systems are much better balanced. Septic keeps waste in top zone until it can be digested by bacteria. It'll slowly settle into the water table, but it's a decade long process. Much more self reliant system. Well and septic systems that are working well, are good almost indefinitely smile

And, if you are worried about bacteria in the house water, use an in-line UV system at least 4 ft long. It'll kill anything in the water - no taste or pH changes to be worried about. AND, use copper pipe to feed the house because copper will keep all the bugs away. There are very few bacteria that can survive a copper rich environment. Copper pipe is mandated here by the County Building Department, and we're glad it is smile

Last edited by BrocLuno; 07/13/18 11:54 PM.

Formerly in marine engineering. In an earlier life I owned my own petroleum tank truck, and hauled for the majors and independent's.
Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813668
07/14/18 03:17 AM
07/14/18 03:17 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 416
northern NY
Driz Offline
Driz  Offline

Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 416
northern NY
I laugh hi. See folks saying wells some. substandard same with skeptics. They work fine. And keep that ever increasing town bill away. It is yours to deal with though which can be pricy.
1st and foremost. NEVER TAKE THE WORD OF A REALTOR. They work for the selle and you know who end paying their commission. So be careful there. They without the down side of things.
Go to the town offfice or county clerks. It depends according to how they operate. Are sure there arenít any hit you in the face requirements or a new owner. Probably not but you never. Know. Here are some things that wonít grandfather across. Is there a town water / sewer line ,going by? The usual trick is to make. The new buyer hook up and sock them with a $2000+ hoookup fee. ASK.
Well, what kind? Dig wells can be ok but they better. Sealed. Or if a critter falls in youíre gonna. Get sick. drilled far better, how deep is it. As for water purity all you really need is a fairly cheap 5 stage Reverse Osmosis. Unit. We put ours in basement under the kitchen sink so as. To save space under The sink.
Waterrtests: those ones the county mandates are [censored] only test. For bacteria. YOu have to send. In your own for the chemical nasties. For the most part though you just need to look roundabout olddump sites dead factories of the ast ect. There are usually visible telltale signs of this stuff.
RADON. Most folks never heard of it but. Is the second biggest cause of lung. Cancer. Test kits available online under 20. Set out mark the.time date. Sendin few days later with time date sealed back up. Or a deal killler it can be dealt with.
Who would plows. The road? Is it county state or sometimes private and you have to do it? It happens.
WETLANDS. Before 1967 it was a.swamp now itís treasured wetland . That means he had an old dock at the pond but you canít. Same goes for waterfront with a few rushes. there are setbacks and if restrictions.
Waterfront ,LOOK AT THE TREES ALONG WATER. FOR A SCUM LIINE. Water was that high once so you can bet it will again.
BOUNDRIES: Make sure hopefully they are. All marked. In they can get really weird to say the least.
apologies for the ramble and misspells but t I-pad is behaving even worse than usual.

Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813689
07/14/18 05:20 AM
07/14/18 05:20 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 33,944
ME
eljefino Offline
eljefino  Offline

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 33,944
ME
Had to put a new leach field in, was about $6k a decade back. Tank was fine. Old "leach field" was a substandard gravel ditch. Part of that was $395 for an engineer to print a single page diagram of the pipes in an E shape then stamp it. Then another $150 for the town to approve a permit-- you'd think they want people's yards to not have poop-water boiling out and make the fee reasonable.

My shallow well is amazing, but then I'm from the land of Poland Spring water. California relatives visit and bring bottled water and I tell them to their faces they're insulting me. It runs off 120V and I can plug my generator in. Never a bill. I did put in a $400 UV treatment doohickey to kill bacteria but it doesn't affect the taste. Supposed to change its bulb annually, draws about 35 watts.

Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: eljefino] #4813696
07/14/18 05:43 AM
07/14/18 05:43 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6,177
Champlain/Hudson Valley
Kira Offline
Kira  Offline

Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 6,177
Champlain/Hudson Valley
Great thread this.

Grew up in a house with a shallow well and ancient, deficient septic "system". The tank of which was the size of a refrigerator. The leach field was a pipe .

People who wash paint brushes at home have problems with theirs.

I think using a septic system would be good for the development of many people's character.

Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813709
07/14/18 06:27 AM
07/14/18 06:27 AM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 21,605
Upstate NY
Donald Offline
Donald  Offline

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 21,605
Upstate NY
Well and septic are fine. Typically great water from well. Septic needs to be pumped occasionally.

My home in DE has a fancy septic with an air pump I believe. It use aerobic bacteria vs anaerobic bacteria. It's gets inspected yearly.

You will get a home inspection and septic and water test should be part of it.


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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813725
07/14/18 06:50 AM
07/14/18 06:50 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 12,115
Middlesex County CT
simple_gifts Offline
simple_gifts  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 12,115
Middlesex County CT
Regardless of regs, well and septic are large $$ and inconveninet liabilities should they fail; I like to 'spread the risk' of home ownership.

I pay a $70/year insurance to cover my water line from the road to my house.... another $$ risk neutralized.

Two years ago city sewer extended to my street; i couldn't be happier. The neighbor next door spend 20K 10 years ago for an engineered system due to poor perc conditions.


Last edited by simple_gifts; 07/14/18 06:53 AM.

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Re: Old House on 1 Acre w/ Septic, Bad Buy? [Re: LoneRanger] #4813731
07/14/18 06:55 AM
07/14/18 06:55 AM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 11,152
Buffalo, NY
JTK Offline
JTK  Offline

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 11,152
Buffalo, NY
Sorry if I missed it, but did you determine for fact that you can't repair or replace the septic system on a one acre lot because of lack of space?

Reason I ask is, you can typically do all the repairs on an existing system you want and without permit, etc. Like said, it all depends on your local ordinance. The type of system you can have depends on your soil and what is around you.

Where I live, the only type of system you typically see installed is a sand filter system. The "sand filter" takes place of the old stone/gravel leach field and is a very compact system. I do know of folks with old leach field septics from the 1930-40's but they most certainly would not pass the mandatory health dept dye test come sale time. You won't typically get 100yrs out of a sand filter system either, but with light use, regular tank pumpings and no trees nearby, I suppose it's possible.

I ran into that exact scenario with the sale of our last home and had to replace the 1950's system for the new owners. I got quite the deal at the time (2011) at about $8200 all-in. I had quotes that ranged from that to $20K.

Last edited by JTK; 07/14/18 06:57 AM.

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