The housing market is hot, which means buyers may be rushing into purchases without thoroughly inspecting their new homes. If you're purchasing a home that uses a septic system instead of a municipal sewer line, you need to check the system before closing. Like other high-cost items such as foundations and roofs, a failing septic system can lead to costly future repairs.

Unfortunately, homeowners who haven't lived in a house with a septic tank may be unaware of potential problems with these otherwise clean and environmentally-friendly waste disposal systems. Keep reading to discover three reasons why a septic system inspection is essential for any new home purchase.

1. Failing Tanks Pose a Severe Hazard

Concrete septic tanks can last forty years or longer, but many people may put off replacing one that's well beyond its prime. An aging tank can develop cracks and even become structurally unsound. A weakened tank can pose a serious safety hazard if it collapses, and even minor leaks can lead to groundwater contamination.

Your inspection will include a survey of the site, allowing you to determine the exact location of your septic tank. Although your inspector cannot enter the tank, they can look for signs of damage, such as nearby wet ground. They will also check the liquid level in the tank, which can provide additional clues about its integrity.

2. Leaching Fields Can Break Down

The leaching field is an essential part of any septic system. After effluent leaves the tank, it travels through pipes in the leaching field and filters away through the soil. For the leaching field to function correctly, the ground requires sufficient aeration to support helpful aerobic bacteria. Compressed or anaerobic soil will eventually stop the system from functioning.

Inspectors will check the condition of the leaching field with a soil percolation test. This procedure ensures that the leaching field has adequate aeration and drainage. Installing a new leaching field can cost thousands of dollars, so it's essential to ensure that your new home isn't suffering from a leaching field on its last legs.

3. Poor Maintenance Can Reduce Life

Routine pumping is critical to maintaining any septic system. Your inspector will check the tank's liquid, solid, and grease levels as part of the inspection process. These levels can provide valuable clues as to how well the previous owners maintained their system. If the levels are too high, it can indicate infrequent pumping and potentially other problems with the system.

Septic systems are typically reliable and long-lasting, but they rely on homeowners to follow a routine maintenance schedule. Poor maintenance habits can lead to costly failures, so it's critical to make septic system inspections a part of your home buying process.