One of the biggest concerns I often hear from individuals contemplating moving to rural areas tends to be regarding wells and septic systems. When you buy an apartment or condominium in an urban area, you generally do not have to worry about water quality or septic capabilities. In the country, where municipal sewer and water are not always available, these are factors that you must consider when buying land or a country home. However, do not let the idea of building or maintaining your own well and septic system deter you from making this exciting move! Wells and septic systems are simply one more interesting and unique aspect of country life.
Approximately 25% of Canadian households have their own wastewater system, and most rural households rely on their own well for their household water supply. Once installed, wells and septic systems tend to require very little maintenance or attention. Here are a few tips & tricks you should know about having your own well and septic system in the country:
- A conventional country septic system consists of a septic tank and a soil filter (usually referred to as a leaching bed). The septic tank is buried underground in a location near the home, and its purpose is to collect sewer and assist in the breakdown of organic matter. A septic system should be both odourless and out of sight. The size of your septic tank should be dependent on the size of your home and the number of occupants.
- If you are purchasing an older country home, it is a good idea to make inquiries into the state of the septic system. Septic tanks should be pumped every two years, and the leaching bed should be replaced every 20-25 years. Ask the previous homeowner when they last had their septic tank emptied and the leaching bed replaced.
- When you are responsible for maintaining your own septic system, you should become aware of what exactly is allowed to be flushed down your toilet. Indecomposable items in your septic tank will build up, requiring you to have your septic tank emptied more often. These items include feminine hygiene products, coffee grounds, disposable diapers, cooking fat, cigarette butts and heavy-duty paper towel. It’s also a good idea to use a high-quality toilet paper that decomposes easily.
- In the country, most people rely on drilled wells for their household water supply. Drilled wells tap into a groundwater system that flows through the countryside. Therefore, depending on the topography and location of the land, your well could range from a few dozen ft to over 200 ft in depth. A qualified well driller will be able to complete a drilling test to help you determine the depth of your well. Wells can vary greatly in depth, water quality, and flow rates.
- If you are thinking about purchasing a home in the country, it is a good idea to have the well water tested. You may also want to obtain a copy of the properties Water Well Record that should have been filed when the well was initially built. Ensuring that your future country home or property has quality water and an adequate supply is an important consideration, and may even be required when applying for a mortgage.
- It is a good idea to get your well water tested regularly (approximately 2-3 times per year) to ensure that your water is free from contaminants and bacteria. The local health department will be able to test a sample of your water for a very minimal charge. If the quality or taste of your water does not meet your standards, then you can look into purchasing water softeners and purifiers to help improve the odor, taste or appearance of your water.
If you are building a home in the country and installing your own well and septic system, there are a number of trusted and reputable professionals in Clarington that will be able to assist you in drilling your own well and installing a septic system. Having your own well and septic system are amusing and inextricable aspects of the country experience, and in no time you will be impressing your city friends with your knowledge of plumbing and water quality!