It's getting to be that time of year and property owners with an OWS - aka a septic system - that hasn't been pumped for awhile may want to consider it as part of "getting ready for winter months."
If pumping and an inspection can be done before the snow flies, and while you can still locate the lids to your septic system, you will likely save money and find it an easier and more valuable process.
If you can find and expose you lids you will save time and money. One time we had an inspection with the lids buried under landscaping over four feet below the lawn. Sad, poor planning, costly!
If any problems exist, it is less expensive to repair in the months without snow cover. This time of year also allows for a visual inspection of not only the septic tank, but the leach field. An abundance of green at your leach could be a warning sign (water not going down into the ground as designed). Are liquids pooling at your leach field? Call a professional soon and get an inspection. Again, if necessary, get repairs done before winter rolls around. You'll be glad you did.
Also, take time to consult with your local OWS contractors and find out the best way to keep you system running smooth. There are additives that keep the macrobiotic organisms essential to a healthy OWS alive and well. Introduction of harsh agents and chemicals can kill these organisms and cause OWS failure.
An abundance of paper products is also extra work for an OWS. Always try to use paper products approved for septic systems for a trouble free operation. Most importantly try not to flush a lot of extra stuff.
Some homeowner associations have regular pumping schedules, every few year based on their past experience. If you have an abundance of guests, more frequent pumping could be a necessity. If you are empty nesters without a lot of visitors or second-home owners, you may be able to wait longer between pumping - again, consult with your area professionals.
If you are a seller and you believe you will sell in the next 12-23 months - especially if the sale/closing takes place in the winter months - it may be time to have a qualified contractor inspect your septic system and apply with environmental health for a use permit. A partial list can be found on the Summit County website menu, under departments, then public health, environmental health, onsite wastewater systems.
Under current guidelines, to get the most time out of your inspection, you can wait for just under a year after the inspection to apply for the permit, which will then last for a year, so a little under two years total. But don't wait for the last minute and expect the powers that be to jump through hoops to get 'er done just for you! Give them a month, two weeks minimum, to process the permit. If the inspection expires because you waited to long to apply for the use permit, then you will have to repeat the inspection step. That would be costly since the septic tank must be pumped as a part of the inspection.
Some months of the year multiple use permit applications come to environmental health at the same time. They process the applications as quickly as they can, first come, first serve. It's always good to call ahead once you have reviewed the website material and ask any questions to better understand the steps before getting started. This will help you build a plan for a successful inspection and permitting process.
So what if I am planning to build a new home that requires an OWS? Call and set an appointment with one of the environmental heath staff and or technicians to better understand the process. There are many steps that we may address in future "Welcome Home" articles. In some cases an application may require non-winter months to be approved. It's best just to call the pros and remember to give yourself plenty of lead time for a successful application.
Butch Elich is a Realtor with Re/Max Properties of the Summit with over 20 years of experience to share with buyers and sellers from around world. Visit him at www.Elich.com or call (800) 806-9518 with any reale state or mountain community questions.