You are ready to sell your home and have a well and/or septic system on your property. You wonder: “Does the county require me to do anything to these systems before I sell?” “Do I need to provide proof that they work, or is that the buyers responsibility?”
Homeowners in Washington State are required to fully pump and inspect their septic system prior to the transfer of ownership. It is best practice for sellers to have their septic systems pumped and fully inspected before listing their home for sale. Washington State requires that homeowners maintain their septic system for public health and safety and unless your home is being sold “as is” and you intend to do no repairs, having your septic system fully pumped and inspected is a mandatory step to selling your home.
Onsite Operations and Maintenance (O&M)
First things first, hire a 3rd party to fully pump and inspect your septic system. Your septic system needs to get pumped about every 5 to 7 years (whether you are selling or not) and varies based on your use and size of the septic system. Once your septic is pumped and inspected, that inspection is valid for 12 months. Reputable 3rd party companies will not only pump and inspect your system, they will file the required paperwork (for an additional cost) with the County. Every County is different, so be sure to hire a company who is privy to your counties unique requirements.
The septic companies will check for these things:
- Structural condition of the tank, influent and effluent baffle tees, pumps, floats, etc.
- Absorption test on the drain-field
- Systems condition, including root invasion and soil compaction
Report of System Status (RSS)
The final step, after you have had your system pumped and inspected by a 3rd party, is to order the Report of System Status (RSS). A County professional comes to the property and does one last inspection. Looking for signs of a failed septic system (such as standing water) and testing the drain field by running water through the system. During the inspection, the inspector must view the grounds. If there is snow cover, your Inspection may be postponed.
Unlike septic systems, sellers are not required to inspect their sewer line or conclude that it is properly functioning before finalizing the sale. Of course, if you do know of any deficiencies, you must fully disclose them to the buyer. But it is the buyers responsibility to fully inspect the sewer line.
Much like sewer systems, sellers are not required to inspect the well system. It is the buyer’s responsibility to have the well inspected and ensure water quality.