Septic System Inspection

As you flush, wash dishes, do laundry where does all the liquid waste and solid waste go? For a home with a septic system, this is where your septic system kicks in gear. Your septic system handles the waste removal for you as long as it’s working properly!

How do you know it’s working properly when everything is underground and you can’t see it? Well, that’s when homeowners that have a home with a septic should schedule a regular inspection of your septic system and septic tank. A septic tank inspection is crucial for your health and that of anyone else living in your home.

Scheduling a regular septic inspection and septic tank pumping will not only save you money from needing a major repair for a faulty septic system, but it will also help deter any unwanted surprises. Why would homeowners wait? Many homeowners can avoid repairs that would cost tens of thousands of dollars by having a regular inspection.

What Does a Septic System Inspection Include?

In some cases, when the septic system is not functioning properly, there is a need for a septic inspection to locate the issues before they cause greater damage to your home, soil pollution, or a number of problems. There are two types of septic inspections. Let’s review those now.

Visual Inspection of the Septic System

A visual inspection of the septic system involves the septic inspectors asking a series of questions. These questions would include how old the house is, how often the owner pumps the septic system, and when the last inspection occurred.

To complete a visual inspection, the home inspector will proceed with flushing all the toilets and running the water from every spigot possible to check the water pressure and that everything is rightfully draining and there is no clog in the drain lines.

During visual inspections, the home inspector will go to the drain field, or absorption area, to see if the distribution box is evenly distributing the wastewater into the drain field, and it is draining properly so that there isn’t any standing water that can lead to the creation of a cesspool.

A visual inspection of your septic system is very helpful, and it is done quickly. However, a full inspection of your septic system is more detailed.

Full Inspections

A full inspection of the septic system includes everything a visual inspection performs but also includes a full inspection of the septic tank.

The septic inspector will uncover the septic tank and determine the flow level of water. The water levels will reveal whether or not the water flow is draining properly.

The septic inspector will then run water in the house to make sure it is properly flowing from the house to the septic tank, and to make sure the water level within the septic tank does not rise when more water is introduced.

The inspector may use a dye test during this part of the septic tank inspection.

Dye Test

A dye test uses a brightly colored, non-toxic tracing dye to ensure that wastewater is properly moving from point A to point B.

During a dye test, septic inspectors will flush dye tablets down toilets and drains, confirming that the wastewater sources are entering the septic tank, and walk the real estate to see if dye is surfacing anywhere.

This type of test may identify if a septic system discharges partially treated sewage to the surface of the ground or into waterways.

What is the Septic Inspections Entire Process

A septic system inspection is a comprehensive evaluation of all the components of a septic system, which includes the septic tank. The entire process helps pinpoint any problems or signs of possible trouble. Let’s walk through the inspection process.

Removing the Septic Tank Lid

After the inspector locates the septic tank, he will remove the lid of the tank to inspect it internally.

Sludge Level

The septic inspector will use a calibrated rod and dips it to the tank’s bottom and then retrieves the rod back. The sludge and wastewater in the rod explain the condition of the septic tank, and helps determine whether or not to recommend to pump the tank.

Leaks

The septic inspector will review if the tank is watertight or has any leaks. A tank that is leaking can lead to contamination of groundwater or ground surface.

Baffle Inspection

The septic tank operates with an inlet baffle and outlet baffle that work like regulating valves.

The inlet baffle works to regulate the waste flow rate from the house to the septic tank. The outlet baffle works to keep waste from entering the drain field.

Checking Filters

The effluent filter within the septic tank outlet pipe also works to keep waste from entering the drain field, which avoids groundwater contamination.

Results of Septic Inspections

Having your septic system inspected will provide your results of whether or not your septic system is properly maintained or the septic system fails.

If septic inspections result in contaminated well water or irreparable damage to the septic tank itself, you may be recommended to install a new septic system.

How Often Should a Septic Inspection Occur?

Industry best practice recommends a regular septic tank inspection be performed at the least, every three to five years. The septic system inspection should coincide around the time a professional septic tank pumping service comes to pump the tank.

Pumping the septic tank is necessary to keep your septic tank healthy and in satisfactory working order.

Why is a Septic Inspection Important?

Many homeowners don’t realize that septic inspections ensure that the septic system is operating as it should, and that you and your family don’t get sick thanks to a leak or other septic system problems. A septic system inspection can unmask budding issues before they can cause total system failure.

These types of water treatment systems are located underground, a septic inspection is something that homeowners easily overlook.

However, if something does go wrong, you will regret not having had septic inspectors provide septic inspections to check your system on a regular basis and identifying any needed septic system repairs before a catastrophe occurs.

A septic system is made to last, but structural problems in the system do happen, and can create many problems.

A septic inspection can bring these problems to light before they lead to costly septic backups or issues. Identifying septic system issues early can save a homeowner tens of thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs.

Prospective Buyers Purchasing a New Home

Even if a septic inspection isn’t a part of your real estate transaction, you should still get a septic system inspection.

A standard home inspection only has home inspectors check the condition of a house’s roof, furnace, plumbing and electrical system. It may include home inspectors make a general inspection of the outside of your septic system and drain field, but it will not include a full inspection of the tank or the other components.

Buying a home with a malfunctioning septic system can quickly turn into a disaster, and cost you a lot of dollars to repair or replace. Even if you have to cover the cost of the inspection yourself, it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Signs that a Septic System is Failing

Sometimes the beginning signs of a septic system failure aren’t so obvious until the system completely fails. Here are few things to looks for, to avoid the possibility of a nasty backup.

Puddles in Your Yard

If there is standing water in your yard over your septic system, it’s a good idea to get an inspector and have your septic tank inspected. Make sure to keep yourself and your animals away from the water, as it could be toxic.

Backups

If you are experiencing a high level of plumbing backups, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your septic system. Contact an inspector to rule out the possible issues.

Unusually Healthy Grass

If your grass is greener over by your septic area than it is in other parts of your yard, it’s time to check your septic system. When a septic system begins to fail, it puts more water out into the ground which can enrich your plant life but can be dangerous for people.

Maintenance Tips for Proper Function of your Septic System

  • Flush only bath tissue down the toilet. Tampons, paper towels, cigarette butts, and other foreign objects should be thrown in the trash.
  • Harmful chemicals and hazardous chemicals such as gasoline, paint, medication, antifreeze, and pesticides can damage bacteria in the septic system and should never be flushed or dumped down the sink. Laundry detergent and bleach can enter the plumbing system in moderate amounts.
  • Only grass should be planted above the septic tank and drain field. Roots from trees and large shrubs can cause unseen damage.
  • No one should ever dig or build on top of the drain field.
  • All water drainage from rainwater, your sump pump, or any surface water should be diverted away from the drain field.
  • An easy way to prolong the life of a septic system and prevent costly repairs or replacement of septic tanks is to fix leaky faucets and toilets immediately. Taking shorter showers and not using a garbage disposal are ways to limit water use.

How Much Does a Septic Inspection Cost

Cost depends on how extensive the septic system inspection is, as well as the size of the septic tanks. A septic inspection costs on average about $300 and up.

A septic inspection can take about 2 hours depending on these factors:

  • Size of the tank
  • Depth in the yard
  • Any other issues that need investigating

A septic system should last about 25-30 years if maintained properly.  An inspection at least every 3 years is the recommendation by a professional to maintain the system.

Calling a Professional Septic System Inspection Expert

Septic system problems can come to light in a variety of ways. Identifying an issue involves knowing what to look for, as some indicators can be more obvious than others.

A trained and experienced professional should be the one performing the septic system inspection.  Have you had a septic inspection and have questions about it, or are you in the market for a home that has septic?

The better you treat your septic system, the longer it will serve you. At Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm, we offer a professional septic system inspection services that will include a visual or full inspection of the whole septic system during which we will empty the tank and thoroughly inspect the tank structure and all drainage pipes of the system.

Regular inspections help to prevent major septic tank problems from happening. Schedule a complete system inspection with Delaware Valley Septic, Sewer & Storm today and keep your septic issues at a minimum.

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