Septic System Warranty
A septic system is an increasingly common option for off-grid sewage systems. Having a septic system allows you to operate a fully functional toilet system in your home without having to connect to the city’s sewage system – an attractive option if you live in rural or isolated areas. That said, septic systems do not come without problems. If something goes wrong, it’s 100% your responsibility to fix it, and the bill is 100% on you. Therefore, it’s worth investigating warranties to help with any big expenses.
This guide will walk you through the different warranty options available and how you can ensure that any problems are mitigated in terms of both damage and expense.
Do I need a warranty for my septic system?
The short answer to this question is: yes. The average septic system lasts for between 15 and 20 years with proper maintenance. After this period, you’ll most likely need to install a brand new system. In some cases, septic systems can last for 35-40 years, although if you have a septic system that is older than 30 years – particularly if you didn’t install it yourself – it is advised that you tread carefully (literally).
These dates refer to the lifespan of the septic tank and not how long the tank will work without any issue whatsoever. If something does go wrong with a septic system, it usually goes very wrong indeed. A small crack anywhere in the system can lead to a major incident. A warranty provides you with the coverage you will need to not only fix your system if it goes wrong but usually address that fault in a relatively speedy way. You may not be willing to spend $1,000 to flush out the system with chemicals, but since this is covered by a warranty, you will avoid the $10,000 bill that comes from not doing it.
So it’s possible to not buy a warranty and for your system to survive long term with no major incidents. However, as with any form of insurance, you’re effectively making a small stake bet that will pay out if something expensive happens – which is usually a solid option.
SEPTIC SYSTEMS FAIL?
Of course, one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t have to deal with a damaged septic system is to avoid it breaking in the first place. Indeed, most warranties – even third-party ones – require that you take decent care of your septic system. Understanding how and why septic systems break is the first tool in your arsenal of avoiding a breakdown. After all, the best type of solution is a preventative one – especially when it comes to septic systems.
The first step in avoiding a septic system disaster is to ensure that your tank has been installed properly. The simplest way to do that is to use a reputable professional to install it. Septic systems have very specific requirements when it comes to depth – and depth is contingent upon the type of soil you have in your drain field. The role of the soil is to absorb the wastewater, treat it, and then disperse it.
If you have the wrong type of soil, or you’ve not buried your system to the right depth, then your system will break down. If it’s caused by a problem with the soil or the vertical separation distance, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get any compensation from the warranty company.
There are four main elements of a septic system: the pipe running wastewater away from your home, the tank, the drain field, and the soil around it. If any one of these four elements gets damaged, then you’ll likely experience a problem.
The most common form of damage is a tree root. These can damage all four parts of the system and get worse over time. Freezing and thawing can also damage the septic system, as can paving over, or driving on, the drain field.
Lack of Maintenance
In addition to avoiding damage to your septic system, you’ll also need to keep your tank well-maintained to ensure that it neither breaks nor contaminates the groundwater underneath. Septic systems work by separating the scum, the wastewater, and the sludge that comes from your home. The sludge sinks, the scum floats, and the wastewater remains in the middle, being pumped out into the drain field.
Every three years, you need to pump out the scum from the tank, or it will clog up the tank or begin leaching into the field. Failure to do so will break the tank, damage the surrounding area, and generally cause an unpleasant (and expensive) situation. Here you can get the average cost of septic tank pumping.
Excessive Water Use
Unlike septic systems that connect to the main sewer system, septic tanks can only handle a finite amount of liquid. When installing a septic system, calculations are usually made based on your home’s capacity. If you use more water than anticipated, the tank cannot hold the volume.
The excess capacity will need to go somewhere – meaning it will either burst the tank, overflow into the drain field, or, most likely, back up into your home. The last of these is easily the most unpleasant and shows why you’ll need to be very careful when it comes to not overusing a septic system.
WHAT DOES A SEPTIC WARRANTY COVER?
Generally, whether you have a septic warranty plan or a home warranty plan, you will be covered for the following parts of your septic system:
Although the exact terms of a warranty will vary greatly from company to company, you can generally expect that, if you experience a blockage in your pipes, a warranty will cover the cost of it being cleared (without excavation). This usually applies once during the period of the warranty (if it is required more than once, it suggests a wider problem with your septic system).
In terms of what is not included in a typical warranty, again, that depends on the specific terms. However, generally, the following three are not excluded from any warranty claims:
You should also check your warranty to see if it covers the cost of labor and under what circumstances. This is where costs can really rack up, so it’s important to determine your coverage level.
HOW TO CHOOSE A SEPTIC SYSTEM WARRANTY
There is a wide range of septic systems on the market, so choosing the right one for you can be tricky. Before you start getting quotes from different providers, you should think about precisely what you are looking for. The following are the places to start:
What is your budget?
Septic Warranties are usually built into general home warranties, which means that your home appliances will also be covered. For this, you’re looking at somewhere from $25 to $75 per month. If you want a specific septic warranty, then you can usually find options from $5 to $15 per month. Decide what you are able to spend in advance, and you’ll be much better placed when researching options.
Choose the right plan for you.
There’s no point buying a plan designed for an industrial septic system or one that does cover the specific type of system you have. Make sure that you know your septic system’s details inside and out, and confirm with any warranty company that they work with that type of system. If in doubt, speak to the manufacturer or the installer – they will usually be able to recommend something for you.
Check the exclusions carefully.
As shown above, many of the warranties have very specific exclusions, and there is a great deal of variance in terms of what different companies offer. Your warranty choice should be defined as much by what is not covered as what is covered. Be sure to check the details on any warranty sheet before you decide what to buy.
Ultimately, you are the best-placed person to judge what warranty is right for you and your septic system (or, if not, you will be able to contact the professionals who do). Comparing the costs, the coverage, and the exclusions are good starting points, although you’ll also need to factor in things like the age of your system, its capacity, and the amount of maintenance work you’ve done on the system.