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Country Plumbing

Have you been thinking about buying a home in the country? If so there are two things that are so critically important that they override all other considerations. Those two factors really boil down to first getting water and second getting rid of the water.

Now if you are considering a country place with a house that already has indoor plumbing, those two problems may have been solved for you, because it suggests that there is already a working well with drinkable water and an adequate septic system. While the existance of a well and septic system is certainly no guarantee of trouble-free plumbing, it's a start.

From there, you can get a little better idea of the condition of the well by first, turning on several faucets and just letting the water run. The longer the better. That'll tell you a couple of things.

First, can the well keep up with your demands? Each well is different, and will deliver only so many gallons per minute and it is possible to temporarily run a well dry because you're taking water out faster than it can be replenished.

Be suspicious if the water's discolored, which suggests sediment which may be nothing more than the pump is set too deep or it may be a more serious and continuing problem. And don't take the drinkability of that water for granted. Get it tested.

In some areas, the county will do it; in others, you'll have to go to a private laboratory. Prices vary widely, but a basic coliform test is essential. It's a limited test, but if the water passes the coliform test you're in pretty good shape.

A properly designed, installed and maintained septic system should last for decades. Periodic pumping of the septic tank is usually all the maintenance that is needed. However, don't make assumption about any septic system.

Check the location of the septic system and drainage field. Walk around and check to see if the soil is soggy. Are there any odors? If the grass greener or taller than the surrounding areas? If you answer yes to any of these questions, this is a problematic system and needs some expert analysis.

If you are interested in buying property in the country to build on, then you are faced with having to determine where you'll get your water and how you'll get rid of it. Don't commit to buying property until these two considerations are settled. At the very least, you'll need a perc test to determine the absorption rate of soil for a septic drain field or "leach field".

For more on how a septic system works see the Rideau Corridor, Ontario, Canada website.

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