Flush Out The Details On A Home’S Septic System Before Buying


As we know, real estate has been in the toilet for quite a while, hopefully, getting poised for a comeback like it has in other economic cycles.

With that said, let’s discuss one facet of the home buying process that primarily occurs in areas located outside the Town of Payson.

The septic/sanitary inspection is an integral part of the real estate buying process in areas such as Star Valley, Pine and Strawberry.

There is a special addendum to a real estate contract called the “On-Site Wastewater Treatment Facility Addendum.”

This addendum is used when there is an on-site sanitary system on the property. An on-site sanitary system may be a septic system, alternative system, or in the old days it may have been a 55 gallon drum poked with holes, filled with rocks and buried in the ground.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) rules compel a pre-transfer inspection and transfer of ownership of the system when a property is conveyed.

Generally, the inspection of a septic system involves a look see at the water levels in the tank to determine if the tank is sound. If the level is low, it may be determined that the tank is no longer structurally sound. If the water level is high, it may indicate that the leach field is not working properly and may need attention. The tank is normally pumped by the inspector to remove solids that may eventually clog the system.

According to Jake Garrett, of the Gila County Sanitation Department, septic systems should be pumped, on average, every three to five years to insure that they remain in proper working order. Gila County offers a brochure for new septic system owners titled, “I Have a New Septic Tank System…Now What Do I Do?”

We frequently refer to a system used in areas where the ground does not adequately leach as alternative systems. There are various types and each operates differently; however, they also must be inspected prior to transfer.

Generally, if the sanitary system is found to be in need of repair, the seller is responsible for the repair up to 1 percent of the property purchase price.

If the repairs are in excess of 1 percent, there are several options: The buyer may cancel the purchase contract or the seller may cancel the contract unless the buyer agrees to pay the excess cost. Of course, the seller may choose to make repairs even if it is above the 1 percent of purchase price as stated in the addendum.

Septic/sanitary systems in working order are important to affect a timely sale. As one plumber proudly proclaimed on the side of his truck: “A good flush beats a full house!”

Ray Pugel is a designated broker with Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty. Contact him at (928) 474-2216.


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