Home Buying in 19320>Question Details

erikjen23, Home Buyer in Downingtown, PA

what are the pros and cons of well water/on site septic?

Asked by erikjen23, Downingtown, PA Tue Feb 14, 2012

I'm looking for a house in the twp. of west bradford, but most of the ones I like have well water and on site septic. I'd like to know what the pros and cons are so I can determine if this is an option for me and my family.

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erikjen23, I can not only echo but confirm everything being said about septic and wells. Most people are scared of the unknown like these two systems. In our area of Chester county PA, a large majority will have one or both these systems. I have a dual septic system and in 20 years, only needed to pump the tank out every 18-24 months.

As long as you maintain and check your well regularly for potability it is great as no water company bills every month. Make sure you inspect the wells depth, and gallons per minute as part of your inspection contingencies. Many buyers overlook this and are facing expensive New well costs down the road.

Same goes for septic, have the entire system checked including drain fields, seepage pits what ever system is in place. You must follow instructions on maintaining a septic, as it is not public sewer where anything can be flushed down the toilet. As stated below best to have enough ground so a replacement system can be installed down the road. Two drainage fields with a Bull-run switch are the best! One year field A is used, next year field B can be used. This way neither field becomes saturated which is the huge expense when septic systems fail. Digging new drainage trenches.

Erikjen23 if you and your family love the home, just protect yourself to get proper and detailed inspections.

Best of luck and feel free to contact us with any other questions or concerns.

Rob Hughes: Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.
(Associate Broker) (AB065650)
(Hughes Associates) (Realtor since 1987)

Office: 610-225-7400 x7438

Cell# 484-410-9765 (Preferred)


1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
Well put Roland. I would never have public water or sewer if I didn't have to. In our area, I would be very cautious with lots under 1 acre and low ground. You will always want room for a replacement field should the original fail and that is why current subdivision requires 1 acre minumums for on site systems. The nice part is should you ever have to put in a new field, they require you to put in a bull valve so you can use the new field but have the ability to switch back to the old field which often regains its usefulness after a few years of non use. I have many rental units with public water and sewer. It is common for a family of 4 to use $400 per quarter in water and sewer. That is $1600 per year, $16000 in 10 years. A standard septic may cost around $8000 and an average well around $3000. Replacing the pump in the well should not happen more often than every 10 years and may cost around $1000 including labor. My current pump with my family of 6 is 14 years old. Pumping the septic every 2 years only costs in the neighborhood of $200. Not that it would ever happen but if I had to dig a new well and replace my septic every 10 years it would still be cheaper. Public water can stop working, get contaminated etc. I did have public water at one point so I know from experience. Public sewer can have problems too. One time a tenant called and said the drain was clogged. I got there and raw sewage was coming out of the basement sink like a fountain and it was 4 inches deep on the basement floor. The clog was down the street and as everyone at a higher elevation used it, it flowed into my rental unit. Everything can fail and have its down side but I much perfer the down sides of on site well and septic.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012
Most of us in the country regard well and septic as an asset, not a liability. Once the investment has been made, there is nearly no additional cost associated with them, certainly nothing regularly other than a tiny increase in electric usage. My experience with 40 years of rural living is that I have only pumped out my tank once. Probably due more to good fortune than clean living! I have replaced 2 water pumps, one of which was struck by lightning and covered under homeowner's insurance. A pump-up (mound) septic will have more cost as it adds an additional pump, one that does not last forever. In a few certain locations, you may have to worry about inadequate water supply or pollution from something off-site. Municipal systems are not 100% worry-free from that either. Your water is more apt to taste better from a well and it is also more apt to have minerals which could leave residue in toilet backs, places where drips and leaks occur or water stands. Soap will be less effective. A water softener will take care of these things, but then you have to buy it and keep it running.

The short of it is that you need to be sure that both are satisfactory, hence the inspection. These things vary considerably from place to place. But there is no reason to automatically be worried about a well and/or septic.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012
Thank you so much for this information. My husband and I have been trying to decide whether we need to get an on site water well at our home that we're building. It's nice to know that these things are up for the inspector to take care of. I am glad that we don't have to worry about buying a water pump yet. http://www.betterwaterwells.com
Flag Tue Apr 28, 2015
I was going to say the same thing. The liability isn't something to worry about. Air conditioners and running water are also liabilities-- but we're more than willing to put up with them. If you like the house, then I think the well is a bonus. http://www.coonsedrillingpump.com
Flag Sat Feb 21, 2015
The pros are easy - no water or sewer bill. The cons are a bit tougher. You want to see if the township requires regular pumping of the septic system. If so, you need to factor those dollars and inconvenience in. Check if the well ever ran dry and when it was last tested. It should be tested regularly for bacteria and minerals that might corrode your pipes. Is there a UV light (for bacteria) or water conditioning system or softener? When both are working well, you won't notice the difference except in savings. Is the well on a back up generator? If you lose power, you'll lose water, too since the pump it works on is electric (most likely). I have a well and on-site septic and I'm very comfortable with it but it's all a matter of personal preference.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012
Pros No water bill. Cons can be numerous and expensive if septic is not cared for properly. Always have a septic tested and inspected as it can be a $200 fix or a $20,000 replacement. Well water can taste bette than public water if capped and vented corectly and again you do not have to pay for it. Hope this helps and best of luck to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 12, 2015
If you live out in the country, well water and septic tanks are more standard. In the city it is more common to be connected to a network, but that's because of proximity. If you are more isolated, it would be too expensive to connect to a septic system and water pipes. Personally, I'd prefer a well on my property so you have your own water supply, but that's just my opinion. http://www.mantylawelldrilling.com/lakeland-mn-well-drilling…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 11, 2015
There are many people who have water wells at there home. It just depends on the person in particular for preferences. When I was a kid we had one at our house too. http://www.merrittwellandpump.com/sarasota-fl-well-drilling-…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 2, 2015
Believe it in not the vast majority of the houses in PA and the US for the matter are served by on-site water and sewage disposal. That being said, each should be inspected just like any other system in the house prior to the purchase. You want to make sure that you actually use an inspector who has specific knowledge for that which they are inspecting. Home inspectors are great for the “sticks and brick”. A person knowledgeable in water should inspect the water system. The sewage system should be inspected by an appropriate person. I have been a licensed PA Sewage Enforcement Officer for 22 year, inspecting on-site sewage disposal systems. I do not profess to know how to inspect stick and bricks and therefore do not. Some sticks and bricks inspectors like to be a jack of all trades. This can lead to problems with the inspection of the water and sewage systems. Make sure you get a water inspection, not just a water test. Most importantly make sure you are at and participate in the inspections. Education is the key to life and you are paying for it, so get the most out of it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012

Septic and well is simply one more home system to have to manage....the septic needs to be pumped from time to time, they can clog and back up causing a huge mess and problem. With regards to a well system, during the dry season wells can go dry leaving you without potable water, the water should be tested for purity from time to time and pumps and filters need to be maintained.

On the positive side, many people like having their own systems regardless of the requires attention and effort because they don't have to pay the municipality for water and sewer service but they must maintain their system.

Hope this helps.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 14, 2012
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