Fixtures include showers, sinks, bathtubs, and laundry tubs. Appliances include a cloths washer, a dish washer, an ice maker, a water softener, and a water heater. Some require only a cold water pipe such as a toilet or an exterior hose bib. The water to these fixtures and appliances are controlled by faucets and valves. Unfortunately, over time, these faucets and valves will require maintenance, and will have to be repaired or replaced.
Waste water enters the drain system from the fixtures or appliances. The waste water passes through a u-shaped piece of pipe commonly called a “p” trap. When this trap is filled with water, it prevents sewer gases from entering the home. Every fixture in the home must have a trap. Sometimes the water in the trap beneath a floor drain will evaporate causing sewer gases to pass into the home. This can easily be solved by periodically pouring water into the floor drain to seal the trap.
Most drain systems operate strictly by gravity. The pipes are pitched to enable the waste to leave the home and into the main sewer system in the street.
Some communities do not have a sewer system. In that case, the waste material enters into what is known as a septic system. The septic system consists of an underground tank and a series of underground perforated pipes called a leach field, that distribute the water which percolates into the soil. Every two years, the remaining solid waste should be pumped from the septic tank to maintain proper maintenance. Also, check with the owner to make sure the septic system has been inspected annually. Check with the owner if there are detailed records of repairs, pumping, and inspections.
Find out the capacity of the septic tank, the exact location of the tank, and the exact location of all pipes to and from the tank. A drawing would be helpful. Ask when the tank was last pumped? Check to make sure there are no plantings over the leach field as the root system can cause damage to the system. Walk around the yard checking for seepage or standing water.
If you are considering buying a home with a septic system, I highly recommend a full, detailed inspection of the entire septic system by a certified, inspector, including the tank, leach field, pumps, electrical components, controls, etc. Make sure you check the credentials of the inspector. If something goes wrong with the septic system, it could be a very expensive repair.
Municipal Sewer System
Sometimes, the municipal sewer system in the street is not low enough to accept gravity flow from the drain system installed under the basement floor. When this exists, a pump or lift station must be installed in the basement floor to raise the waste material above the level of the main sewer system where gravity takes over. Sanitary raw sewage is both corrosive and abrasive. Therefore, periodic repair and replacement of the equipment is needed.