Remodels and Repairs

Where does that drain go?

As I mentioned in my first post, we just bought a new house. That was quite an ordeal.  Especially since we closed on my due date (that’s right, 40 weeks pregnant, not in labor, signing on a house). But that also meant we were racing against the clock to find a good house. My most important criteria was that it had ‘good bones’. We were seeking a house with a good foundation and solid structure.  My dad is a general contractor so I naturally thought his wisdom had made some impact on me and I should easily be able to tell quality work from shoddy work. Turns out, I’m not that good.

To save ourselves the trouble and heartache of finding a house well above our price range that we loved, we decided to just save money for a while and not look at homes at all. Not on Zillow or or any other website.  And of course, we would get pre-approved to ensure we had a valid offer to make when we did start looking. These were all recommended by various websites (, Wells Fargo, and WikiHow) and a book we looked at (Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying your First Home – checked out from the library). All good info, however, it may have been wise for us to go look at homes and see the difference between shoddy versus quality construction. For us, making numerous observations and researching may have been better.

For example, how many people are familiar with the difference between city water and well water? Septic tanks? Graywater tanks? Leach lines? Do you feel lost? Here are a few points to consider when looking at house on well water.


  • Before you buy
  1. When buying a house, it is wise to get the water tested FOR EVERYTHING. Who knows what’s living in there and you want to get it treated (if anything nasty is in there) before you buy that well (an additional $200-$300 added to your inspection)
  • Septic Tanks
  1. I know tanks fill up, but then what? You have to have them pumped. So even though you don’t have a water bill because you have a well (kinda nice :)), you do have to put your water bill amount away each month to save up for a $400 septic-pump every 3-5 years.
  2. Oh and where is that tank? You need to know. Why? Because you want to make sure that while you are doing yard work you don’t plant a tree over it. Wait. Isn’t that a great way to mark it? NO!!! Tree roots are notorious for invading septic tanks and sewer lines (especially clay), so you want to know where your tank is and get rid of trees around it to prevent root invasion.  
  • Graywater Tanks
  1. That should be the tank that holds the runoff of all your water from the dishwasher and washing machine. Can’t that all go in the septic tank? Well, yes it can. However, there are natural bacteria and yeasts that break down solids (I know, kinda gross). These can be killed or decreased by the soaps and bleaches we use to clean clothes. You typically want the lines separate to prevent the tank from filling quickly and allow for breakdown of solids.
  2. Usually these tanks are large pits with stones
  • Leach lines
  1. These are typically french drain pipes that stem from your septic tank into the yard and they carry excess water from your tank. Ok great. You also must know where they are so you don’t cover those up with, oh let’s say, a half circle drive or an addition. Yeah. It’s a good thing I asked before we started that project.

Does everyone automatically know about this stuff or am I the only person who didn’t? Has anyone learned lessons the hard way with septic tanks?

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