I am looking into buying a house that has ceramic septic piping. I have heard that these can cause problems with roots growing into them. Does anyone have experience with ceramic pipes, and if so do you think I should have them replaced right away?
Any sectional drain pipe, such as terra cotta (ceramic) or cast iron, is subject to possibly getting roots in it.
If you begin to have a sluggish drain problem due to roots and you roto-rooter them out, they will just come back in a year or two.
The only permanent solution is to replace the line with glued black plastic ABS or glued white plastic PVC line. Glued lines won't allow roots back in.
"If it aint broke, don't fix it", but if you want to go ahead and replace it now, that's your call. If there are trees or shrubbery anywhere near the line, sooner or later it will get roots.
Check with your local Health Department or Building Inspection Department for any permit and inspection requirements.
If this is your first home on a septic system, the only maintenance that is really required is to have the tank pumped every 2-5 years, depending upon usage. I have mine pumped every year that ends in a 0 or 5 to keep it simple for me. I had mine pumped last year, for instance.
If the septic tank of the home that you're buying hasn't been pumped lately, I would have it pumped now (check the baffles in it too BTW), and then again in 2010, etc.
Most independent studies have shown that all of those septic system additives aren't necessary. Normal usage will provide all of the necessary bacteria to make it function properly. Also, try to keep excessive chemicals (paint, bleach, etc.), grease, food particles from a disposal, non-biodegradeable objects (feminine products, etc.) out of the septic tank.