Selling your Home (with its Septic System)

You squirreled away the paperwork after you bought the house satisfied that all the permits, maintenance and inspections had been done on your on-site wastewater treatment system.

You’ve been living peacefully in the house using this on-site, or septic, system every time you flush the toilet or wash the dishes, and you’ve - knock on wood - had no trouble and never given the design of your sewer system a second thought, except to hire someone to pump it regularly.

Find that paperwork because the state of Colorado requires all on-site wastewater systems to be inspected before the property is sold. The permit issued by Summit County Environmental Health will reassure potential buyers that the system was designed properly and should work just as well as sending your sewage off-site - to the main sewer treatment plant on Airport Road or Farmers Korner.

Hopefully, you can also find the “as-built” drawing that should be file along with the permit. This tells potential new owners where the system’s parts are located, so that they can easily pump the tank on a regular basis, and protect the field — because they can see where it is on the ground.

The field, called a leachfield, drain field, absortion field, is the second step of treatment. When it works well it looks and smells like a grassy meadow. Nothing should be built or driven on the field, but other that that it should have given you no trouble, and you can reassure a new owner by showing them. Give a copy of your paperwork to your Realtor, along with any information you have about your system, including maintenance. Facts will reassure a buyer who is unfamiliar with rural Colorado, or septic systems, and one always feels good about buying a home from someone who has maintained it. If you feel like it, play some pastoral music while telling potential buyers about. your septic system, if they aren't present to smell the flowers.

OWS Use Permit Required

Since January 1, 2009, the Summit County Board of Health has required sellers to obtain an OWS Use Permit and give it to buyers prior to or at closing unless the system has been installed or remodled recently, and in that case that permit will serve the same function. A OWS Use Permit is basically an inspection (require all over the state and in several nearby states as well). You can see a blank Use Permit  Summit County Environmental Health Department.  Requiring this inspection will help the county fix any malfunctioning systems and protect the ground water supply and protects both sellers ( by documenting the condition of the system) and buyers (who can be assured that their new system has been inspected and is in proper working order).

Where to find more information & OWS Use Permit

The OWS Use Permit is issued by the Summit County Environmental Health Department. On their website, in addition to the blank inspection form, you can find a list of Summit County approved inspectors, septic tank pumpers, a chart for suggested septic tank pumping frequency, a list of licensed soils engineers and septic installers and forms for a septic system permit. See the Summit County Government website or phone 970.668.4070.

Contact an OWS Use Permit approved inspector to arrange for the septic pumping and inspection and ask them to submit the Use Permit Inspection Report Form to the Summit County Environmental Health Department.

OWS Use Permit Not Required

The Summit County Environmental Health Department does not require a Use Permit when:

   1. The Septic System was installed and approved within 5 years of closing date.

   2. Owner has obtained a permit to repair the system.

   3. Subject system was installed but has never been used.

Obtain a written waiver from the Health Department if the Use Permit is not required. It is recommended that you obtain the inspection even if not required, to ensure there are no problems with the Septic System.

Show You Know Septic Maintenance

  •  Do not drive over the absorption field with cars, trucks or heavy equipment.
  •  Do not plant trees or shrubbery in the absorption field area.
  •  Do not cover the absorption field with a hard surface such as concrete or asphalt. Grass is the best cover for the field.
  •  Divert surface runoff water from roofs, downspouts, patios, driveways and other areas away from the absorption field.
  •  Plowed snow stacks should be kept away from the absorption field.
  •  Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets quickly.
  •  New green, low-water-use appliances will increase the efficiency of your system and save water.
  •  Never dump household hazardous substances down the sink or toilet as they can kill the beneficial bacteria as well as pollute the groundwater
  •   Skip the garbage disposal and compost instead.
  •   Empty hot tubs directly onto the ground rather than running it through the drain system and through the absorption field.
  •   Never enter or lean into a septic tank or use flames or electrical devices near the opening of a septic tank.
  •  Summit County Environmental Health Department does not recommend septic tank additives claiming to eliminate the need to clean out or enhance operation of a Septic System.