If you haven’t lived on a property with a septic system, you might be surprised to learn that there are steps that need to be taken to maintain it. When a home is hooked up to city sewer, the city maintains the sewer lines up to the point where the line enters your property. When your home has a septic system, the homeowner is completely responsible for all repairs and maintenance .

A septic inspection is often a home maintenance task that gets pushed aside or forgotten about. Because septic systems exist underground in the backyard, they are often out of sight, out of mind. But letting it go too many flushes without an inspection can result in some major problems if the system fails. Keeping your septic system in good condition will save you thousands of dollars in repairs if anything does go wrong.

Septic systems should be inspected every three years. But most homeowners never get their septic systems inspected unless there is a notable issue, such as toilets backing up or slow drains. The benefit of doing an inspection every three years is to avoid major problems like these.

When considering a home purchase, ask your realtor to include a septic tank inspection in the buy/sell agreement. Without an inspection, you may be faced with costly bills due to a faulty or neglected septic system. The person who is responsible for carrying out septic inspections varies based on your location. In most states, it’s the buyers’ responsibility to handle inspections during their option period – part of their due diligence – unless otherwise agreed upon. Ask your real estate partner about your obligation regarding septic system inspections.

And don’t forget about disclosure! In all states, sellers are required to disclose any known problems with a home to potential buyers. If there’s a septic issue after closing that the sellers knew about, they will be liable for the entire cost of the repairs. For that reason, it’s a good practice for all homeowners to perform routine septic inspections. That way, the seller is protected from any future septic issues after closing.