I'm thinking in buying a home that has a well and septic system. Is is safe, costly...? Any thoughts or?

Asked by Lisa, Lyndhurst, NJ Fri Aug 8, 2008

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Lee, Home Buyer, Round Rock, TX
Tue Dec 13, 2016
I solved my problem with a German made electronic anti-scaler. It works great and its very popular in farming applications, preventing hard water problems related to well water. My house is in Round Rock TX that has a hardness of 11 grains per gallon average, which is considered hard according to USGS standards. Hard water scale in pipes will surely occur in the long run, but problems with your sprinkler valves due to calcium scale are absolutely common in this area mainly because of high evaporation in the outdoor summer heat. Hard water will also cause common ice maker and dish washer related issues. I always say preventive maintenance is an owners choice. I personally dislike dealing with calcium deposits around my faucets, showers and sinks, but above all, the thing I dislike the most is the slippery feeling in your body, after taking a hard earned shower, at the end of the day with softened water. Its like washing yourself with sea water. The sodium added to the water just wont allow proper soap rinsing and you never get to feel really clean. My house came with a huge Salt Water Softener, with two big tanks that took a lot of space in my garage which is not huge. After a long research, I decided to replace our salt softener with a Vulcan-Texas Anti-Scaler from Techno Mechanical Solutions in Austin. An affordable and eco-friendly way to prevent hard water issues without using salts. I was able to do the installation myself over the old softener pipes. The Vulcan requires no maintenance, just install and forget about it. No more salt buying trips to Lowes and carrying those back breaking bags. No more slippery feeling after taking a shower. No more calcium buildup around my fixtures or sprinkler valves. Water treated with Vulcan is safe for garden irrigation, your sprinkler system may also be protected. Vulcan dismantles prior limestone accumulations. Any pipe material may be treated up to 20 inches in diameter. The maintenance free Vulcan is very compact and sits of top of your pipe, saving all garage floor space for your favorite toys. Great for eliminating water lines and improve filtration in pools and spas. German engineering with 10 year warranty. Treatment for a normal size house with up to 1 1/2 inch pipe around $1000. Vulcan-Texas is space saver, effective, simple and affordable. Forgot to mention, my morning coffee tastes better without salt.
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Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Sat Aug 9, 2008
You should also consider the size of the property you are getting as there are parameters as to how close the well can be to septic, property lines etc. Occassionally you will need a back up field. Removing a septic system that fails (done as a last resort when there is no other place to locate replacement is very expensive as removed materials are treated as hazardous waste) There are a number of different type systems inclusing aerobic, anaerobic, mound, conventional, and peat to name just those most common. Prices and maintenance vary. City utilities are easier but not available every where. I own multiple homes with combinations and will say for peace of mind I like city utilities best, but for the larger lots, views and taste (without chlorine,flourine...) private wells and septic are fine. Just be certain to test. City utilities may make a difference when reselling especially if yours is rare in the market place. (septic and well on small lot where most have public utilities will hurt your value)
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William Leigh…, , New Jersey
Sat Aug 9, 2008
I’ve sold homes (and had sales fall through) with wells and septic. Since I’m not first to the table, I’d start by saying the earlier posters seem to be right on.
First, you can have one and not the other, depending on the local public development of these systems.
Wells: If you have a well and it does not have a public system alternative, you can have two basic problems which will cause you to drill a new well or spend a deal of money to remedy. First is running out of water. In drought years this can be exacerbated. A deeper well may help, depending where you are. Obviously, North Jersey rock is more expensive to drill than South Jersey sand. The other problem is contamination or imbalanced mineral content. I had a buyer walk away from water that smelled like rotten eggs. (The seller had been using bottled water for cooking and drinking!) You can get water softeners and devices that add chemicals to clean up the well water, at a cost. If there is a hook-up to a public system available, it will cost you, as already indicated. This cost is very low compared to the value of the house and the proceeds from a sale, so it’s a great item to negotiate the seller to cover. It ends everyone’s problem and, even if the deal falls through, the seller is left with a more saleable house (given that they can afford the fix before they get the income from the sale.) I’ve had sellers who have done just this and were very happy to accommodate the buyer in this fashion.

Septic. The costs can be astronomical. The whole issue is state regulated (very strict specifications.) but locally administered. Do not buy a septic system that is not ipse-pipsy squeaky clean. That wonderful patch of extra green grass in the back yard is being fertilized and you know how!

Having said all this, you have little choice in what kind of system you can have. If you want to live in X and X doesn’t have public water and sewer, you have to settle for your own system that you will have to maintain. Forty thousand bucks over 20-30 years is only $2,000.00 a year. Alternatively, sewer bills can run pretty high but may be obscured by being part of the tax base.

The only two exceptions are: One, if a public system is available but not connected, in which case, get it connected by the seller and two, a private well or sewerage system, which do exist in this state. They can be quite serviceable but can also suffer from a lack of proper maintenance and then suffer condemnation. Fixes can run the clients of these system a ton of money because there is usually a small subscriber base over which to spread major costs.

Hope this helps.
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Marc Paolella, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Fri Aug 8, 2008
Hi Lisa,

I wouldn't buy a house with an older septic system. Sooner or later they fail, and the replacement cost is $20,000 to $40,000. If it's 20 years old or less, maybe. Otherwise, if it's 20 or more years old, move on to another house, or take $30,000 off your offer to account for the fact that you will have to replace it in the near future.

Web Reference:  http://www.marcpaolella.com
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Jack Vollenb…, Agent, Flemington, NJ
Fri Aug 8, 2008
The other posts pretty much sum it up. Although it can seem a daunting and intimidating process, there are strict procedures in place for wells and septic systems just like there are for fire safety, certificates of occupancy, and municipal codes. If you need mortgage financing to buy your new home, chances are that your lender or the FHA/HUD has specific quidelines as well.
During the buying process make sure that you surround yourself with competent, knowledgeable and helpful professionals and they will guide you through the entire process making sure that you can make informed decisions at every step. With knowledge comes empowerment and "new and scary" unknowns like a well and septic system are subsequently reduced to routine matters in the household to-do list. Good luck!

Jacobus "Jack" Vollenberg
RE Appraiser/RE Sales Associate
Vollenberg Appraisers/ERA Statewide Realty
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Laura Gianno…, Agent, Manahawkin, NJ
Fri Aug 8, 2008
New Jersey has the most extensive well testing in the nation, standards differ from county to county. If your water is from a well, the sellers must have the well water tested to be sure it meet standards.

I work further south, where we don't have that many septic systems. Those too, though, must be tested to ensure they are in working order.

Not to worry, it might be different than you're used to, but istrict environmental regulations and inspections make it a great place to live!

Welcome to the Garden State!
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Vita Strakhm…, , 07446
Fri Aug 8, 2008
There are a lot of homes in Bergen county that have wells and septic, and yes, they are perfectly safe. The good news, is you sva on water bills. When you are are ready to buy on of these houses, you have to ensure that they both pass inspection. The life span is about 20 to 25 years. Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.vitastrakhman.com
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