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Country bumpkin Otters: How much of a pain is a septic tank and well water?

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Country bumpkin Otters: How much of a pain is a septic tank and well water?

Old 11-07-04, 08:03 PM
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Country bumpkin Otters: How much of a pain is a septic tank and well water?

I'm looking for a house and, despite being in the center of suburbia, many of them are in "unincorporated" areas, meaning they have private sewage systems (septic tanks) and are supplied with "well" water, rather than city water.

My question to you hick rubes who live with this kind of thing, is this: how sorry will I be if I should purchase such a property? Is caring for a septic tank really a huge hassle? How do you know when to drain it? Will I have geysers of feces shooting into my sinks unannounced if I don't maintain the proper pH balance or something?

And well water - is it that bad for you? Can you drink it and live? Will it turn all my clothes the color of cafe au lait?

Bottom line, should this be a deal breaker for a house purchase?

I appreciate any answers you "folks" can supply.





Any references to "bumpkins", "hicks" and "rubes" is done purely out of love.
Old 11-07-04, 08:52 PM
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Well, my parents have had their house for almost 22 years, and it is on a septic tank and on well water.


The well water is great. Tastes awesome. It is so much better than any chlorinated city drinking water. It is some of the best water I have ever had, but I'm sure it depends on the area.

We have had to replace the pump once in the 30 years the well has been there.

The septic tank has had to be drained twice so far, but other than it just sits there with no care or anything whatsoever. The first time the guy didn't get the first main compartment, so we had to have another guy come back a few years later.


I don't think it would be anywhere close to a deal breaker for me. In fact, I think I personally want a house with well water when I get around to it.
Old 11-07-04, 09:01 PM
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Originally posted by muggins
The well water is great. Tastes awesome. It is so much better than any chlorinated city drinking water. It is some of the best water I have ever had, but I'm sure it depends on the area.
Yes, definately depends on location. I used to live in the agricultural center of the state (south of Fresno). A co-worker's wife went to the hospital and it was discovered she had arsenic poisoning from their well water.

"Will I have geysers of feces shooting into my sinks unannounced if I don't maintain the proper pH balance or something?"

This seriously cracked me up but I'm not sure if it was the geyser thing or the proper pH balance part.
Old 11-07-04, 09:42 PM
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I don't have well water, but the septic thing is fine. The only time I've had a problem was when it flooded here and it got too saturated. But it went down after a day or so. Otherwise, it's not too much of a pain in the ass.

Granted, not as nice as city sewage, but not a dealbreaker.
Old 11-07-04, 09:47 PM
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If it's an unincorporated area near a populated area, be careful--when it gets incorporated you'll have to pay to hook up to water and sewage (they often won't let you stay on your old system and it's the homeowner's expense to pay for their hookup construction costs) AND your property taxes will probably go up if it gets incorporated.
Old 11-07-04, 10:19 PM
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The septic will be fine. You may need to get it pumped out once in a while.

The well - that'll depend on the quality of the water in your subdivision. It's probably fine. You may need a softener, though for non-drinking use like laundry and showers.

Our old house had it for a few years, then city water & sewer came through and we were hooked up. Cost us a few thou, but at least we got to keep our well on one spigot which we used for watering the lawn.
Old 11-07-04, 10:25 PM
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I have nothing to add to the thread, but I saw the title and thought it said "Country Blumpkin Otters" and was hoping there were pics. LOL
Old 11-08-04, 09:31 AM
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i love the septic tank in that i don't pay for sewege. which around here is the same as your water bill.

bad part is it's more difficult to get a garbage disposal. and i miss that.
Old 11-08-04, 10:15 AM
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My parents live in a subdivision outside the "big" city and have well water.

It STINKS!

I hate taking showers there as my body smells like rotten eggs afterwards. You CAN NOT drink the water. You will gag faster than a newly married Catholic woman.


I'm Mrs. Pusser and I approve of this message.

yep-she hates it too
Old 11-08-04, 10:38 AM
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My parents have lived with a well/septic system for at least 30 years. A well pump is no problem, just have to replace it every 15+ years. You can get water contatmination as noted obove.

Septic system needs to be pumped every few years, if they back up, it can come into your house (just like a regular sewer pipe though). Depeding on your local ordinances you may be OBLIGATED to empty your septic system every few years... this can be rather costly $200-$500.


When the black stuff comes out of the toliet/sink and house says "get out" I would listen.
Old 11-08-04, 10:43 AM
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My first house had a septic tank and the only "problem" that it ever had was that it needed to be pumped out once.
Old 11-08-04, 11:11 AM
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They can work well and be no problem or work poorly and be a PITA. When I bought this house, I told the realtor "The water's gotta come in a pipe and leave in a pipe, or no deal." YMMV

When I lived in Massachusetts, I had city water and a septic tank. Bedrock drains very poorly and the septic tank and drainage field were problematic in the spring. We had to conserve waste water. I'll never have another -- but frankly, in sandy locations, they work well for most people.
Old 11-08-04, 11:21 AM
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I would ask others in the area how theres are. In my area, people put them in and forget about them, and they never require a thing. But we are very dry and have good soil. In other areas, that could be different.

For well, 90% of them taste better than municipal water. So obviously drink some before you buy the place. A pump can go bad, or a pressure tank can go bad, but that is rare, and the cost is probably less than you save by not paying for water.
Old 11-08-04, 11:38 AM
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As mentioned before, it is highly dependent upon the area.

Well water can be excellent. Keep in mind though that new home construction in the vicinity could alter water quality. When I purchased my previous house, the water was the best that I've ever tasted. No minerals, no odor ... perfect. Someone built a house next door, and when they drilled the well must've hit a sulfur vein or something, because the water became hard and smelled of sulfur.

Neighbors dumping toxins on their property could effect your water supply.

When you own a well, at some level you will be concerned during draughts. If your well runs dry, you've got some serious problems.

As for septic, in addition to regular cleaning, you'll need to be careful about how much water goes through the system. Leech fields can get saturated during the rainy season. Depending upon the age and quality of the home construction, leech fields can get clogged up so that water no longer seeps into the ground... the leech pipework would need to be dug up and the entire field re-layed.

I've own homes with both municipal water services and well/septic.... I much prefer one with municipal water services.
Old 11-08-04, 11:38 AM
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my parents well water tastes great. like red snapper, very tasty. i've got friends who live four houses down who's water has that horrible rotten egg smell though. in the 20 years they've been there i remember the septic tank guy coming once and they just put in a new pump for the well for the first time this year.
Old 11-08-04, 12:16 PM
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I live less than 10 miles outside of the Washington D.C. beltway. I didn't realize that our septic tank made us bumpkins.

Ours has been no problem at all.
Old 11-08-04, 12:18 PM
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Thanks for all the responses. Sounds like a bit of a worry, but not a huge deal. I think I'll probably lean away from them, just for peace of mind.
Old 11-08-04, 12:20 PM
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Odd. I consider them better than the municiple sources. But I hate the taste of chlorinated water.
Old 11-08-04, 12:21 PM
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Originally posted by JustinS
I live less than 10 miles outside of the Washington D.C. beltway. I didn't realize that our septic tank made us bumpkins.
I hate to be the one who had to break it to you.


j/k As I said, the homes I'm looking at are in the very heart of suburbia, surrounded by nothing but civilization. It's odd that there are so many little "unincorporated" areas sprinkled here and there.
Old 11-08-04, 12:23 PM
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Originally posted by kvrdave
Odd. I consider them better than the municiple sources. But I hate the taste of chlorinated water.
I'd be using a PUR filter or something similar for drinking water anyway, so that isn't too much of a concern. I was wondering more for showers, cooking, and clothes washing. I don't want to smell like rotten eggs, the way Buford does (and this isn't the first time I've heard this about him, either).
Old 11-08-04, 12:57 PM
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Septic- I don't know, never paid much attention

Well water- obviously it depends on where you are as to the quality but the lack of cholorine is nice but when there was a dry spell the well would dry up somewhat and cause the water to become "muddy"

that said I'm glad I have city sewer/water

Originally posted by Numanoid
I don't want to smell like rotten eggs, the way Buford does (and this isn't the first time I've heard this about him, either).
that's just sooooooooooooooooooooooo wrong!!!!!!!!!!
Old 11-08-04, 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by Numanoid
I'd be using a PUR filter or something similar for drinking water anyway, so that isn't too much of a concern. I was wondering more for showers, cooking, and clothes washing. I don't want to smell like rotten eggs, the way Buford does (and this isn't the first time I've heard this about him, either).
I would just get a copy of the well log and maybe have it tested (especially the "taste test") before I decided not to bother. No overage charges if you like to water the lawn a lot as well.
Old 11-08-04, 01:39 PM
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Just maintain the septic/aeration system properly and you shouldn't have a problem. Everyone in my parents' subdivision has an aeration system. And there are a few spots in their neighborhood that smell at times because people don't have their systems cleaned out properly (every couple of years).

Well water just depends on the area you reside in.
Old 11-08-04, 02:37 PM
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Originally posted by Numanoid
I'd be using a PUR filter or something similar for drinking water anyway, so that isn't too much of a concern. I was wondering more for showers, cooking, and clothes washing. I don't want to smell like rotten eggs, the way Buford does (and this isn't the first time I've heard this about him, either).

Only the visit I make every year or two.



I have heard my parents complain that their clothes aren't as white.
Old 11-08-04, 02:48 PM
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I built a new house a couple of years ago, and we are on a septic system and a well, and no problems so far. The house I grew up with was the same thing, except once every ten years we would get the septic tank cleaned.

We periodically test the water as well. There were a number of cases of water problems in our province, but ours was perfect (the guy testing it actually told us that he thought that it was filtered water since it was so clean).

But, as noted, it comes down to the area that you are in.

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