Do you know where to find info on septic systems and your responsibilities?

A client of mine is planning on selling a property soon and he’s trying to get his proverbial “ducks in a row” before going on market.  He asked me about what his responsibilities are with regard to his septic system and he also wanted to know if he needed to do an inspection or pumping of the system prior to selling.  If you are not familiar with this process either as a buyer or seller, here is a great website with details about septic systems for you to learn about.  It’s specific to King County so if you live outside this area you’ll want to see if your own county has a similar website with info for you.

If you just want to learn more about septic systems (also called onsite sewage systems) and how to use them properly and care for them you can read through this information, also from King County.

14 thoughts on “Do you know where to find info on septic systems and your responsibilities?

  1. In most part of the state outside of the I-5 corridor buyers should expect to find homes on septic systems. In Chelan and Douglas Counties (Leavenworth, Wenatchee, East Wenatchee and Chelan) they are regulated by the Chelan- Douglas Health District. Their records have yet to be digitized, so getting a copy of the permit and the “as built” can be a little bit of a wait.

    One thing buyers of a mountain cabin might notice is a lot of 2 bedroom homes with bonus rooms galore. This is because the lot is only suitable for a “2 bedroom” septic. Remember that just because you use it as a 3rd bedroom, the house really has to revert back to a 2 bedroom when it’s time to sell it again.

  2. The OSSM sounds like a good idea. Interesting how different septic/onsite inspections are handled in other geographic areas. Here in Chester County Pa, we have many onsite systems which used to be “certified” by inspectors,but no more. The best they will say is that “its working today”. Too many lawsuits. We would not suggest that the Seller pump a system just prior to inspections.

  3. Reba,

    The On-Site Sewage System form is a good thing.for sellers to provide to buyers. It’s also a great form for buyers to keep and review with regard to the future “care and feeding” of their septic system. There are people out there, believe it or not, who really do not know what NOT to throw down a septic system.

    Geordie brought up a good point about the actual number of bedrooms in a home and the number of bedrooms approved for the original septic system. I can think of several sales in which the basement was finished off at a later date and that 4th bedroom was added, although the septic was designed for 3 bedrooms. Geordie is right, that fourth bedroom cannot be called a 4th bedroom when selling, if the septic system was designed for less bedrooms.

    From what I recall, approval for septic systems is based on two people per bedroom, therefore a septic system designed for a three bedroom home would work for 6 people and so on. In reality, not all homes have two people per bedroom, but the septic system designs and approvals are based on this number. Is this still the way the county looks at the septic design? Has that changed?

  4. This is off-topic, but does anyone know why posts to Rhonda’s “Fed does nothing” article aren’t making it through? I have tried posting a comment twice today and nothing happened.

  5. Hi Debra, I do believe you are correct in how they are viewed but the county should be the one to confirm it and not me. Geordie is correct that septic systems are typically approved for the number of bedrooms so you’ll want to be on the lookout if you need a 4 bedroom but the septic was only approved for 3.

    As a note to self (but publicly here), it might be a good future post to have info about what to do when buying land to build on and how to go about getting the right tests, etc, done to get a septic installed.

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