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A septic system is a small-scale waste treatment system used in homes that aren't tied to a municipal sewer system. Approximately 25 percent of homes in North America, primarily those in rural areas, rely on septic systems. Although there are a variety of types of systems, all have a tank that is buried in the ground, an inlet pipe, a filter and a drain field.
Septic systems are subject to strict municipal regulations as well as mandates from the US Environmental Protection Agency. An improperly-maintained system can cause homeowners to face expensive repairs and possibly having to replace their system. Conversely, a properly-maintained system can operate without issues for decades. Since it's difficult, if not impossible, for a potential buyer to tell the difference, an inspection is desirable.