Question: The home we're buying was built in 1947, and it still has the original septic tank. We've never had a home with a septic system. The seller promised to pay for an inspection and then backed out of his offer, so we'll be paying for it. Even if the inspection goes well, how difficult is it to live with a septic tank?
Answer: If a septic system is properly installed, not very old and has been serviced regularly, it could provide years of trouble-free use. A 1947 septic system raises a red flag in all three categories.
You don't know whether the system was properly installed. A permit may not even have been required 60-plus years ago. The system may have been installed by someone with no experience. The tank might have been made of lumber that is now rotted. The leach lines that carry liquid from the tank to the soil might be clogged.
Even if properly installed, there is the issue of age. A tank that was substantial 60 years ago could now be deteriorated and in need of replacement. A concrete tank could be decomposed and crumbling. A steel tank could be rusted through.