What Is The FHA Septic Tank Rule?

What Is A Septic Tank?

Septic Tank FHA RuleFor those who have not heard of what a septic tank is let me take a minute to explain. A septic tank is a private sewer system that services a house. Many homes are on a public sewer system, however, for rural areas or areas where the public sewer lines don’t reach, the home must be serviced by a private system.

This private system is known as a septic tank. The septic tank is a chamber that can be made of concrete, fiberglass, PVC, or plastic. It helps dispose of household sewage in an environmentally friendly way so that the health and safety of the homes occupants and nearby neighbors are not negatively affected.

Without getting into lengthy detail about how it works I’ll try to briefly describe what happens. Sewage from the home flows into the tank from the house where part of it settles at the bottom of the tank and the other liquid part leaves the tank and is dispersed into the ground through a drain field.

As you might expect, the tank requires regular maintenance to make sure it is operating correctly with no unwanted leakage. The contents must be pumped regularly depending on how big it is as well as usage.

Since they have specific rules for many other areas you may be curious about the FHA rule for septic tanks. They actually do have certain guidelines that must be followed and that is what I wanted to discuss here.

Septic Tank and Well Distances

The first requirement for septic tanks has to do with there distance from a private well. If the property is serviced by a well instead of public water there are specific requirements that must be met with regard to the distance between it and the septic tank, which are:

  • A private well must be a minimum of 50 feet from the
    septic tank.
  • A private well must be a minimum of 100 feet from the drain
    field or absorption field for the septic tank.
  • A private well must be a minimum of 10 feet from any
    property line.

These requirements have been taken directly from FHA/HUD Handbook 4000.1.

A big reason for these requirements is to prevent any leakage of the septic system into the drinking water of the well. Of course, if the home is serviced by public water this doesn’t apply.

Public Sewer Availability

The second requirement for septic systems is concerned with whether a public sewer is available. The general rule is that if public sewer is available it must be connected if costs are reasonable. The mortgagee will determine whether a connection is feasible.

An individual sewer system may be acceptable if the cost to connect to public sewer is not reasonable. If the cost to connect exceeds 3% of the value of the property then it would not be required to hook it up.

As you can see, the FHA rule for septic tanks is pretty straightforward. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. Thanks Tom. It’s always good to get refreshed with the details. I recall a property I appraised for an FHA loan about 4-5 years ago. This property had distance issues because the well and septic tank leech field were too close (I think within 100 ft). It was a dead deal because of the issue.

  2. C Miller says

    The requirements have been amended, it’s 75/100 feet for dispersal field, also different states have differing interpretations of what constitutes a well. Such as minimum depth, drilled versus driven or dug well. flow rate, ie less than 1/2 gallon a minute is not considered a well , 1/2 to 3 gal / minute are considered low yield and require storage, for New York anyway other states may have other requirements.

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