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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? West Virginia

I wanted to give you some information on some trouble that we are having with our house to see if we may be able to seek relief for our problems.

Our house was built in 1994...we purchased the house in the summer of 2003. The problem that we are having is with the septic system. We have just discovered a major problem with the system, and according to the septic professionals...the problems are present due to improper installation.

The septic people tell me that gravel, not dirt, should be under and around the tank. Since this was not done, the tank, and the ground around it, has sunken considerably. This sunken area was actually noted by the person who inspected the house in 2003 before we closed on the house. We also saw the sunken area before closing, but did not seem to be concerned about it because the inspector did not see a problem.

Also, I believe that the reason that neither us nor the inspector seemed concerned about the sinking is because the system is not installed at the location specified by the Health Dept. We have 2 papers from the health dept. one dated may 1994 and one dated sept. 1994. Both papers include a drawing that show the location of the tank and the leach bed.

Given that the tank is actually located in a different area than that specified by the health dept. drawings...I can only assume that for the inspection dated september 1994, the sanitarian did not actually come to the house and visually inspect the system...else the map would reflect the actual location.

I do not know why the builder chose to ignore the 2 maps drawn by the health department and decided to locate the tank somwhere else.

I do not know what the statute of limitations/statue of repose is for this type of matter. I also do not know what specific codes must be followed for septic tank installation. But, I do feel that the builder was wrong in locating the tank where he did, and for not using gravel under and around the tank. I feel that the health department was wrong for signing inspection papers of the system that do not reflect the actual installation. I feel that the seller must have known where the tank was actually located, but failed to tell us that the large sunken area that has made the stairs to our back deck unstable, is the location of the tank.

This is not the only problem that we have discovered with the house over time...but it is a major problem that is going to cost a significant amount of money. While we do not have a formal estimate yet, I anticipate getting one within the week.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.What is the name of your state?


Senior Member
Date of discovery may come into play. Consult a Real Estate Attorney in your jurisdiction. Unfortunately, inspectors do not always inspect, I moved into a new home which I saw constructed from the slab up and yet between our weekly visits to the site the inspector signed off on the insullation which was't in either the wals or celing, but I was able to nte it on the walk through along with other problems. Your inspector would not know that there was no gravel or that the tank was in the wrong place unless they had the maps or took a soil sample. A local RE attorney should be able to tell you what your options are.


Senior Member
Not sure who you talked with but I have never seen a tank surrounded with gravel. I actually was at a site today that has 4 tanks and no gravel.

There is no gravel around mine or anybody elses that I am aware of. What is the gravel supposed to do for you?
If it is sinking, it is very possible that the hole was over dug and needed to be filled in to raise the floor of the hole. Now if the dirt was not compacted before the tank was installed, this could cause a sinking feeling,,,, I mean sinking action. Even though the tank may have sunk some, what is the harm? Has it sunk to the point where the outlet is lower than the discharge pipe connected to the outlet or is it just that there is a depression?

Unless you can get a building inspector to tell you that gravel is required, you might be out of luck with that part. If the outlet is not in danger of ending up below the discharge pipe, the sinking would not cause a problem until it does so. If this is the case, you just need fill to bring the lawn level back up to the rest of the lawn. Even if this is happening, the remedy still would not be that difficult unless this entire system was built with the absulut minimum slope built into the pipe runs. Unless this is the case, all that would need be done is dig out the discharge pipe and lower it in relation to the outlet of the tank.

Now with the placement. Most health departments do give drawings for the placement of the system. They are ususlly based upon where the soil was perc tested and the relation to the surrounding lot lines, building placement and such. Most health departments are not that picky as long as they are close. You should call your health department/sewegae department to research this aspect. It may very well be within allowed placement guidelines but unless you call, you will never know

You did not relate what problems you are having so it is difficult to see if this is really that big of a deal or not. It may be merely an aesthetic problem or you may have stuff all over your yard, can't tell from here though.

Not trying to minimize your problem but the septic guy I was working with today was telling me a situation where a customer was being told they needed $22k worth of repair work done when all that was need ended up costing $800 to clear the plugged line and this price included pumping the tank. Be sure what they are quoting is what is needed.

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