Standard Septic Tank Test For What? (Best solution)

The test measures how fast water drains into a standard-sized hole in the ground. The results determine whether the town will allow a septic system to be installed, and system designers use the results to size the leach field.The test measures how fast water drains into a standard-sized hole in the ground. The results determine whether the town will allow a septic system to be installed, and system designers use the results to size the leach fieldleach fieldThe drain field typically consists of an arrangement of trenches containing perforated pipes and porous material (often gravel) covered by a layer of soil to prevent animals (and surface runoff) from reaching the wastewater distributed within those trenches. › wiki › Septic_drain_field

Septic drain field – Wikipedia


  • A septic inspection is a requirement of insurers or banks before transferring a property to a new owner. In some cases, when the system is not working properly, there is a need for an inspection to locate the issues before they cause greater damage. A standard septic inspection includes: Locating the septic tank.

What does a septic test consist of?

There are three things a septic system inspector will check during an inspection including the integrity of the septic tank, the proper function of the distribution box, and a leach field that is working as intended. If all three of these components are working correctly you will have passed the septic inspection.

What is a septic load test?

The hydraulic load test is conducted by surcharging the septic tank with about 150 gallons of water over a 20-30 minute period; and then observing the rise of water in the tank and the subsequent draining process. (Tracer dye may be used to assist in observing leachfield failure).

What is a standard septic system?

A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield, or soil absorption field. The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g., oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater.

How often should a septic tank be pumped?

Inspect and Pump Frequently The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years.

How long do septic systems last?

The material of the septic tank – plastic or concrete tanks can last for nearly 40 years. While the steel tank lasts for 15-20 years. Other factors like water usage, trees or plants growing in the area, the lifespan of pump filters, sand filter systems, and other internal components, the objects flushed to the system.

How do you test a septic drain field?

In order to test the overall health and liquid capacity for your leach field, it is necessary to perform a hydraulic load test. This is done by running water at a certain rate over an allotted period of time. A failure occurs when water back-drains to the source before that allotted time period is up.

What is hydraulic loading?

Hydraulic loading is defined in a wastewater treatment process unit as the volume of wastewater applied to the surface of the process unit per time period. It is often expressed in gallons per day per square foot (gpd/ft2).

How much is a septic inspection in PA?

An inspection without the hydraulic load test (because it is not always needed) will run approximately $350. The load test will be an additional fee of around $300. Some firms may be higher or lower. It is customary in Pennsylvania for buyers to pay for all inspections.

What are the 3 types of septic systems?

Types of Septic Systems

  • Septic Tank.
  • Conventional System.
  • Chamber System.
  • Drip Distribution System.
  • Aerobic Treatment Unit.
  • Mound Systems.
  • Recirculating Sand Filter System.
  • Evapotranspiration System.

What is the standard size of septic tank?

Length of septic tank (L) should be taken as 9feet 9 inches or 9.75 feet. Breadth of septic tank (B) should be taken as 6 feet 3 inches or 6.25 feet. The standard height (D) of septic tank should be taken as 5 feet 9 inches or 5.75 feet.

What happens if my land doesn’t perk?

NO PERC, NO HOUSE On rural sites without municipal sewage systems, a failed perc test means that no house can be built – which is why you should make any offer to purchase land contingent on the site passing the soil and perc tests.

What are signs of septic tank problems?

7 Warning Signs Your Septic System Is Failing

  • Gurgling Pipes. They would occur when you run water in the house (e.g. when using the sink or shower) or flush the toilet.
  • Bad Odours. It’s never a pleasant experience when this occurs.
  • Water At Ground Level.
  • Green Grass.
  • Slow Drainage.
  • Blocked Pipes.

How do you check an old septic tank?

While the septic tank is open, look for evidence of places where ground water might be leaking into the tank (DO NOT ENTER THE SEPTIC TANK) – and check the condition of the septic tank inlet and outlet baffles to be sure they are in place. If the septic tank is not empty inspect the sewage and effluent levels.

How do I check my septic tanks sludge level?

To measure the sludge layer:

  1. Slowly lower the tube into the septic tank until it touches the bottom of the tank.
  2. As the device is slowly pulled out of the water, the check valve closes capturing a liquid/solid profile of the septic tank water. The thickness of the sludge layer can be measured.

Septic Inspections When Buying or Selling a Home

You could be perplexed as to why you might want an aseptic examination before selling your house. Alternatively, are you purchasing a new home that has a septic system? Get professional information on septic systems and collaborate with a seasoned real estate agent throughout the process. Prospective home buyers typically engage an inspector to do a thorough assessment of the property before making an offer on it. The examination will typically involve a visual evaluation of the house’s structure as well as a search for pests.

Septic inspections are extremely important for your health and the health of anybody else who lives in your house, so homeowners should make a point of scheduling them on a regular basis.

In case you are buying or selling a home, the septic inspection will be an important part of the process.

What is a septic system?

One in every five homes in the United States is equipped with a septic system, yet you’d be shocked how many people are unaware of what they are. A septic system is a system that is designed to remove waste from a home or building. During normal operation, it collects and filters water and garbage from the washer, sinks, showers, and toilets before returning it to the sink. The mechanism then re-distributes the energy back into the earth. The entire procedure contributes to the reduction of water and soil pollution.

How often should you get a septic inspection?

The majority of specialists agree that you should get your septic tank examined at least once every three to five years. The examination normally takes place around the same time that you should have your septic tank pumped by a professional septic tank cleaning provider. In order to keep your septic tank healthy and in excellent functioning order, it is required to pump it regularly. Even though professionals recommend that homeowners get their septic tanks tested every five years, many homeowners wait considerably longer than this period.

At that point, inspectors will frequently recommend that you repair or replace your septic system, which can cost thousands of dollars if not done properly.

How is a septic inspection done?

Septic tank inspections are recommended at least once every three to five years, according to most experts. You should have your septic tank pumped out at the same time as the inspection, which is normally around the same time as the inspection. In order to keep your septic tank healthy and in adequate functioning order, you must pump it on a regular basis. Even though professionals recommend that homeowners get their septic tanks tested every five years, many homeowners choose to wait far longer than five years.

Inspectors will frequently recommend that you fix or replace your septic system at this stage, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Maintaining regular inspection and pumping will not only save you money on costly repairs in the future, but it will also help you avoid any unpleasant surprises if you decide to sell your home in the future.

Visual Inspections

If you are buying or selling a home, the home inspector will most likely do a visual assessment of the property. In order to do a visual examination, a few questions must be asked, such as the age of the house, how often the owner pumps the septic system, and when the previous inspection was performed. The inspector will next flush all of the toilets in the house and run all of the water in the house to ensure that the water pressure is enough and that everything is draining correctly. At the end of the inspection, the inspector will walk out to the drain field to ensure that there is no standing water, which might indicate the presence of a cesspool.

Full Inspections

A thorough inspection contains all that a visual inspection does, but it also goes above and beyond that level of service. This is the inspection you’ll want to have done every three to five years, at the absolute least. Inspectors will remove the lid from the septic tank and assess the amount of water in the tank during a comprehensive examination. The level of the water might indicate whether or not the water is draining adequately. The inspector will next run water through the home to ensure that it is correctly draining from the house to the septic tank and that the water level within the tank does not rise as a result of the additional water being introduced into the system.

Dye tests are conducted to determine how much dye is incorporated into the water that is draining and how much of it makes its way into the sewage treatment plant.

Inspecting the backflow level will reveal whether or not there is an issue with your drain field.

Morse Engineering and Construction can provide you with further information.

Perc Testing and Soil Testing – What You Need to Know

This Article Discusses If you don’t have a perc, you don’t have a house. Test with a Deep Hole Testing with Percs SetbacksClearances Alternatives in the Event of a Site Failure View and post commentsQuestions Septic System Frequently Asked Questions SEPTIC SYSTEM articles can be found here. Traditional septic systems can only function well if the soil in the leach field region is sufficiently porous to allow the liquid effluent flowing into it to be readily absorbed by the soil. A failure to do so will result in untreated wastewater backing up and pooling on the surface.

It is in this soil layer that the majority of the treatment takes place.

This happens less frequently.

Depending on the municipality, particular criteria may differ, however any of these qualities may exclude the installation of a basic gravity-fed septic system.

In rare instances, an alternate septic system that is more expensive may be permitted. A percolation test (often referred to as a “perc test” or “perk test”) is necessary to assess if a construction site is appropriate for a septic system installation.


A failed perc test on a rural site without municipal sewage services implies that no home may be built, which is why you should make any offer to acquire property contingent on the site passing both the soil and the perc tests before proceeding with the purchase. Percolation or perc tests are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas as prime building sites become increasingly uncommon (or prohibitively costly) in many sections of the country. Rural sites that do not pass the percolation or perc test are becoming increasingly common.

  1. Soils are often classified as either coarse sand and gravel particles or microscopic silt particles, with minuscule clay particles — the tiniest – making up the majority of their composition.
  2. Before investing time and money in testing, dig down to the lighter soil beneath the first few inches of topsoil (loam) and get a handful of it to have a good notion of what you’re dealing with.
  3. It shows that the soil has a high clay content and that it may fail a typical perc test if you are able to construct a ribbon of dirt 2 inches or longer in the ribbon test.
  4. Testing requirements differ significantly from state to state and frequently from town to town, since most governments let small municipalities to develop their own laws within the framework of state regulations.
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A failed perc test on a rural site without municipal sewage services implies that no home may be erected, which is why any offer to acquire property should be subject on the site passing both the soil and the perc tests. Rural sites that do not pass a percolation or perc test are becoming increasingly prevalent as excellent development sites become increasingly scarce (or excessively costly) in many regions of the country. As a rule, soils with a large proportion of sand and gravel drain the best, whereas soils with a high proportion of clay or solid rock drain the worst.

  1. A high clay percentage indicates that the soil may fail the perc test if you can produce a long, thin ribbon of wet soil out of it.
  2. It is likely that the soil contains considerable clay if it has a sticky, wet feel and you can mold a tiny lump of damp subsoil into a long, thin ribbon or worm shape that holds together.
  3. aperctest and visual examination of the soil in a test pit, often known as adeep holetest, are the two most common tests used to assess whether or not a site is suitable for a septic system.
  4. Thus, consult with your local health officer to determine what tests are required, when they may be performed, and who should do them.

Whatever the case, whether a licensed professional is necessary or not, it’s a good idea to engage a seasoned expert with local knowledge because many of these tests have some leeway.


Under specific situations, certain towns may additionally require direct testing of the seasonal high water table to be performed. For example, this may be necessary for some types of alternative energy systems or in places where the water table is known to be high. The most common method is to dig tiny monitoring wells, which are also known as piezometers. The monitoring wells are simply plastic pipes that are screwed into holes that have been dug into the earth. Water is monitored in the pipes during the wettest time of the year, which is between June and September.


To conduct a perc test, first consult with a representative from the local health department. Requirements can differ significantly from town to town in terms of who can conduct the test, the minimum number of holes, the depth of the holes, the required absorption rates, and the time period during which the tests can be conducted. In general, tests cannot be performed in frozen or disturbed soil, and some regions only allow tests to be performed during specific months of the year – so prepare ahead of time.

  • If the test fails, you may be forced to invest in a more expensive alternative technology, or the site may be deemed unusable.
  • A typical perc test consists of two or more holes drilled around 30 to 40 feet apart in the planned drain field region, with the holes being approximately 30 to 40 feet apart (see illustration).
  • After that, either you or the technician should fill the bottom of the hole with 2 inches of clean gravel.
  • Remove any loose soil from the bottom of the hole with a sharp tool as well.
  • Continue to add water until there is approximately 12 inches of water in the hole for at least 4 hours.
  • The next day, carefully wipe away any loose dirt that has fallen to the bottom of the holes and gently fill each hole with water to a depth of 6 inches over the level of the gravel in each hole.
  • The timings are then meticulously recorded and used to compute the percolation rate, which is the amount of time it takes for one inch of water to descend into the ground.
  • When using a normal gravity-flow septic system, a 60-minutes per inch (MPI) rate is commonly used as the cutoff point, indicating that the water dropped one inch in 60 minutes.
  • Some municipalities demand extra “hydraulic” soil testing for locations that test higher than 30 minutes per inch in some instances.
  • Water absorbs too quickly below that level to be efficiently treated before it reaches the groundwater table.

The hole with the weakest performance is the one that matters. The presence of a town official to witness the test is required in certain communities. Perc test regulations differ significantly from one municipality to the next. The following are some general ranges for soil permeability:

  • Consult with the local health department before conducting a perc test because requirements can differ significantly from town to town in terms of who can conduct the test, the minimum number of holes to be dug, the depth of holes to be dug, the required absorption rates, and the time period during which the tests can be conducted. Overall, tests cannot be performed in frozen or disturbed soil, and some regions only allow testing to be performed during specific months of the year – so prepare ahead of time. A normal septic system will only function properly if the soil is adequately permeable to water, which may be assessed by using a “perc” testing procedure. If the test fails, you may be forced to invest in a more expensive alternative solution, or the site may be deemed unbuildable altogether. Procedure to be tested Typically, two or more holes are excavated around 30 to 40 feet apart in the planned drain field region to conduct a perc test (see illustration). A leach field’s absorption trenches are normally 6 to 12 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 feet deep, which corresponds to the typical depth of the holes in a leach field’s absorption trench. Following that, either you or the technician should fill the bottom of the hole with 2 inches of clean gravel. Clean the sidewalls of the hole with a sharp tool (nails hammered through the end of a 12 work well) to dislodge soil that has been compacted during digging. Remove any loose soil from the bottom of the hole using a sharp instrument. In order to imitate the real circumstances seen in a functioning septic system, the soil is “pre-soaked” for many hours in order to completely saturate it before the perc test is performed. For at least 4 hours, keep pouring water to the hole until there is around 12 inches of water remaining. In order to completely saturate clay soils, they need soak for at least 12 hours. Remove any loose dirt that has settled at the bottom of the holes and gently fill each hole with water to a depth of 6 inches above the gravel the following day. In the following 30 minutes, record how much water has dropped (or less for highly permeable soil that drains quickly). It is then necessary to chronicle the timings in order to compute the percolation rate, which is the amount of time it takes for one inch of water to descend. The rate of percolation is commonly represented in minutes per inch of drop in the water column. When using a normal gravity-flow septic system, a 60-minutes per inch (MPI) rate is commonly used as the cutoff point, indicating that the water dropped one inch in 60 minutes. However, the maximum rate can range from 30 to 120 MPI depending on local restrictions. A second “hydraulic” soil test may be required for locations with soil tests more than 30 minutes per inch in some municipalities. When percolation is occurring at an excessively rapid rate, the cutoff is generally 1 to 3 minutes per inch. Water absorbs too quickly below this level to be efficiently treated before it reaches the groundwater table, which is dangerous. What matters is how well a hole does on its worst day. The presence of a town official to observe the test is required in some municipalities. From one municipality to the next, the regulations for a perc test differ significantly. For soil permeability, the following general ranges are used:
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In most circumstances, test findings are valid for two to five years, and in some cases they can be extended. However, like with all things perc, rules vary significantly from town to town, so don’t make any assumptions about what to expect. Always check with the local health department before embarking on a project.


Septic system rules vary greatly from municipality to municipality, although the majority of municipalities demand that the leach field satisfy specified specifications in addition to passing the perc test. Some of the most typical stumbling blocks are as follows:

  • Septic system rules differ from municipality to municipality, however most municipalities require that the leach field satisfy additional conditions in addition to passing the perc test, which are detailed in the following sections. These are some of the most often encountered stumbling blocks.


It is necessary to maintain a minimum distance between the septic tank and leach field and any structures, property lines, water pipelines, wells, or bodies of open water. In the case of tiny locations, a variance may be necessary in order to provide adequate space. It is possible that you will be required to find adequate area for both the current leach field and a replacement field, which will be used in 20 or 30 years after the original field has been depleted of its capacity. The number of clearances varies from one town to the next.

Distance to Septic Tank Leach Field
House 10 ft. 10-20 ft.
Property line 10 ft. 10 ft.
Private well 50 ft. 50-100 ft.
Potable water piping 10-25 ft. 25 ft.
Open water(stream,pond, wetland, etc.) 50-100 ft. 100 ft.
Dry gulch/stream bed 10 ft. 25 ft.
Subsoil drains 10 ft. 25 ft.
Note:Always check with local codes


Even if your site fails a perc or deep-hole test, it is not always doomed to failure. It may be possible to “de-water” the drain-field area on sites with high water tables by strategically constructing gravel-filled trenches and subsurface drain pipes to divert water away from the drain-field region. To complete this project, you’ll need the services of a highly skilled earthwork contractor, as well as the assistance of a civil engineer or geotechnical engineer. Additionally, in recent years, a diverse range of alternative septic systems have been created for use on a variety of different types of sites.

  1. In general, these systems are more expensive, and many of them require additional components such as pumps, alarms, and other devices that necessitate more monitoring and maintenance than a normal sewage system.
  2. Building lots that were formerly considered unbuildable may become authorized building lots when alternative solutions become more prevalent and broadly recognized.
  3. Look for a contractor that has previous expertise installing the precise system you are considering as a second option.
  4. A clogged septic system is not a pleasant sight or scent to see.
  5. In order to do a perc test, who should I hire?
  6. Is It Possible for Septic Systems to Last a Lifetime?

How Much Slope Do You Need for a Septic Line? Performing an Inspection on a Septic System When Is the Best Time to Take a Perc Test? Should I use a Sand Filter with my existing septic system? Examining the condition of the wellSEPTIC SYSTEMView all articles

Buying a House? Make Sure You Get a Septic System Inspection!

If you are in the process of purchasing a home, you are aware that there are several phases involved in the process. You put money together for a down payment, go to open houses, chat to sellers and real estate agents, and ultimately discover a place you love to call home. The exciting part is about to begin. There are several steps involved: making an offer, getting pre-approval, scheduling a home inspection, and eventually, after heaps of paperwork, claiming ownership of the property. But hold on a minute!

  1. You might be asking why you would need to get your septic system inspected.
  2. Septic systems that are in poor working order can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair or replace.
  3. When a roof leak occurs or a break in the foundation occurs, you would want to be aware of the situation.
  4. “All OK, but I’ve already completed a house inspection and a dye test.” “Doesn’t that suffice?” While these inspections may be sufficient to meet the criteria of a lender, they are insufficient to provide a full evaluation of a septic system.

What is a septic system inspection?

Performing a septic system inspection entails a thorough examination of all of the components of a septic system. The inspector will determine the location and condition of the septic tank, distribution box, and absorption area and make recommendations. In this process, he will uncover and evaluate all of the mechanical and electrical components of the system, including septic lines, baffles and filters, pumps and floats, alarms, and so on. During the inspection, he will open the septic tank (digging up the lids, if required) in order to check the wastewater sources from the home to the septic tank and physically inspect the septic tank at its operational level, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

If the home has been vacant for an extended period of time or if the number of people living in the home is expected to increase, the inspector will conduct a hydraulic load test to determine whether the septic system’s absorption area is capable of handling the anticipated daily wastewater volume of the home buyer’s family.

For septic systems in Pennsylvania, this implies that the inspector must have received training and certification from the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA), which has created a set of requirements for an objective septic system assessment.

Each PSMA septic system inspection finishes with the delivery of a thorough report.

However, while this analysis does not provide a guarantee, the findings drawn from it may be able to save you thousands of dollars in septic system repairs or replacement.

If you do not have a PSMA inspection and report, you run the danger of inheriting the financial burden of substantial septic system repairs or perhaps the installation of a whole new system completely.

Septic System Inspection vs. Home Inspection

Inspections of the inside and exterior of a home are performed by professionals who are well-versed in the identification of typical faults. They will inform you if there are any evident issues with the roof, windows, electrical system, interior plumbing, foundation, or any other visible components of the house. A house inspection, on the other hand, is just a visual assessment that is non-invasive. Consequently, house inspectors only report on the components of the home that they can physically see, and nothing else.

  1. This implies that the septic system is not included in the scope of a standard house inspection.
  2. There is a good chance that they may flush the toilets a few times to ensure that the system is not actively backing up, and they may even remove the cover from the septic tank (if they can find it).
  3. How can a home inspector tell you what condition your septic tank is in if there isn’t a pump truck available to empty it?
  4. Despite the fact that home inspectors are well-versed in many aspects of the property, they are neither equipped nor prepared to conduct a thorough examination of a septic system.
  5. Rely on a PSMA inspector that specializes in septic systems to provide you with the most thorough and insightful septic system inspection available.

Septic System Inspection vs. Dye Test

Dyes are used in a dye test to check that wastewater is appropriately routed into the septic tank and not elsewhere on the land. Dyes are brightly colored and non-toxic, and they are safe to use. In layman’s terms, a dye test demonstrates that water can travel from point A to point B. At the time of a dye test, a technician will flush dye tablets down the toilet and down the drain, check to verify that the right wastewater sources are entering the septic tank, and walk about the property looking for dye.

In the absence of a dye test, it is impossible to determine the size or condition of a septic tank.

Dye tests provide little information on the operation of critical septic system components such as baffles, pumps, floats, and alarms, among others.

When purchasing a property, don’t take a chance on a future filled with septic system failures and expensive repairs.

For a complete septic system inspection, rely on the PSMA-certified inspectors at Hapchuk, Inc. to conduct the work for you. Our professionals will supply you with all of the information and help you want in order to confidently acquire a house that has a septic system installed.

Don’t Forget The Septic Inspection When Buying a House

Septic system inspection is mandatory if you are planning to purchase a property that contains a septic tank. There are several things that may go wrong with septic systems, and with any sort of system, there is the potential for various problems to arise. Is it necessary to have a septic examination performed before purchasing a home? Before closing on a home, you should find out if there is an issue with the septic system that has to be addressed. The problems that might arise with a septic system can range from basic repairs to extremely sophisticated replacements that can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.

How The Septic System Works

A septic system installed on a home property can be used in place of a municipal sewer system in some cases. In the United States, 25 percent of residences have decentralized systems, also known as septic systems, which are permanent components of our nation’s wastewater infrastructure, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It all starts with the sanitary pipe that runs from the home and delivers waste water to the septic tank at the bottom of the hill. This big container is normally composed of concrete, fiberglass or steel, although it can also be made of plastic or aluminum.

  1. This tank collects wastewater from the home and allows particles to settle to the bottom of the tank, where they form a “sludge” layer that can be seen on the bottom of the tank.
  2. This scum layer forms a seal, which helps to keep air out of the tank, allowing bacteria to grow in the tank below.
  3. The area between the sludge and the scum is referred to as the effluent area.
  4. A T-shaped outlet is located inside the tank, which allows effluent to flow into the leach field by gravity, while baffles prevent scum and particles from passing through the tank and into the leach field.
  5. This box permits the effluent to flow uniformly into the proper chambers of the leach field, therefore reducing the risk of contamination.
  6. The final outcome is the same regardless of the method employed: the delivery of effluent into the leach field.
  7. There are a variety of various alternatives available when it comes to the sorts of chambers that may be employed.
  8. Leaching’s ultimate goal is to enable effluent to trickle down into the subsoil, where microorganisms in the top layers of soil continue to break down elements from the tank.
  9. Leach Field in a Residential Setting As you can see, a septic system is involved in a great deal of activity.
  10. A large number of homeowners are completely unaware of the importance of providing continuous maintenance, care, and cleaning for their septic systems.
  11. The results of the examination will be used to decide whether or not the tank needs to be emptied.

The cost of inspection and pumping might range between $300 and $500, depending on the location and size of the tank. The cost of maintenance is substantially less than the cost of repair or, in the worst case scenario, replacement of the equipment.

The Septic Inspection

If you’re doing the inspection as part of a house purchase, you’ll want to synchronize the scheduling of this test with the date of your regular property inspection to ensure that both tests are completed at the same time. Thus, if there are any issues with the plumbing systems of the home, these may be brought to the notice of the home inspector and documented in the inspection report. Additionally, grouping these inspections together will help you stay on schedule for any inspection contingency-related deadlines that you may be up against in the future.

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At this point, you’ll be gathering documentation and obtaining answers to any queries you may have in preparation for the real inspection.

Because the system is underground, no examination can locate everything without excavating, which is unfeasible given the system’s location.

Here is a list of questions you should be prepared to answer before the inspection begins:

  • Is it possible that the system has ever been pumped? This one is significant since it is the only genuine maintenance issue that the seller would be required to have completed
  • It is also the most expensive. The seller’s knowledge of the location of the septic system is critical because if the seller does not know where the septic system is located, it is doubtful that they have performed continuous maintenance. Septic System Location Map – Regardless of whatever institution is in charge of supervising septic systems in your region, they should have a map of the septic system location given by the original home builder on hand. This is a critical piece of documentation for the septic inspection. It should not only display the position of the tank, but also the location of the leach field and the number of leaching Chambers
  • If there is any available history on the system’s maintenance – for example, something like:
  • The frequency at which the system has been pumped
  • What type of contractor was employed
  • Obtain any maintenance records that may exist
  • Have there been any issues
  • If so, have they been resolved?
  • Where have all the covers gone? -Manhole coverings should be installed over the tank’s chambers to prevent water from entering the tank. This will be the method through which the technician will get access to the tank in order to test and/or clean it.

Putting together this information will serve two purposes: first, it will assist the technician who will be inspecting the system in knowing what to check for, and second, it will provide you with an understanding of how the house seller maintained the system.

The On Site Inspection

After arriving at the residence, the technician will attempt to determine whether or not the sanitary pipe used to transport liquid to the system is functional and in good working order by conducting a flow test on the pipe. As part of this test, you will need to turn on all of your water faucets in your home to add or charge your system with enough water to sustain as many people as the system was designed to support for 24 hours, which is often several hundred gallons. If there is little or no water flowing into the tank, it is likely that there is an issue with the plumbing in the residence or with the sanitary line that has to be addressed.

  • If this is the case, an asewer line inspection may be required for the line.
  • The opposite is true if the water in the tank rises rapidly, which indicates that a problem is occurring downstream.
  • The flow test is the most important phase of the septic system inspection because it examines so many different parts of the system and ensures that the liquids are going through the system in the proper direction as intended.
  • A significant percentage of those solids will convert into sludge and settle at the bottom of the tank, even though it is intended that they remain in the tank until they are pumped out.
  • Once this is completed, they resume pumping the tank until they reach the underlying sludge layer, at which time they take another reading.
  • If this is not the case, the technician will be on the lookout for larger difficulties in the leach field at a later stage.
  • It is critical to keep the sediments and scum out of the distribution area and leach field to avoid contamination.

The leach field will be the final place that the technician will inspect.

They will be looking for any moist locations where water may be lingering, as well as smelling for any nasty orders that may have been generated by difficulties.

if the probe holes rapidly fill with water, it is quite likely that there is a malfunction with the system The distribution box of a septic system is another location of possible failure in a septic system.

Settlement or blockage of the distribution box are the most common causes of distribution box problems.

As you can see, there is a vast range of possible issues that might arise with a private home septic system, which you should be aware of.

Over 10% of all systems back up into homes or have wastewater seeping through the ground surface, according to data from the United States Census Bureau collected in 1995.

The United States Census Bureau conducted a survey in 1995.

You want to find out if there are any possible concerns with the property before you close on it. Including the testing of the septic system in the inspection process gives you the opportunity to engage the house seller in any later repairs through the use of an inspection objection contingency.

Additional Resources

  • Bill Gassett discusses the Massachusetts Title 5 Septic System Law
  • Luke Skar discusses home inspection tips for buyers. Find out how to analyze home inspection priorities with the help of the Shelhamer Group. The Ultimate Home Buyers Timeline – Danny Margagliano
  • The Ultimate Home Buyers Timeline

Septic System Inspections

Nick Gromicko, CMI®, and Kenton Shepard wrote this article. A septic system is a system that collects, processes, and disposes of waste water and solids that are generated by a building’s plumbing system. When the solids are partially broken down into sludge, they are separated from the liquid effluent (water) and scum in a septic tank (fat, oil and grease). Effluent is discharged from the tank on a regular basis into a drainfield, where it is naturally filtered by microorganisms and re-enters the groundwater supply.

The septic system should be tested at least once a year, and it should be done immediately before putting the house on the market for sale.

Prospective home buyers who have not recently had their septic system checked should insist on having the system checked before they acquire the property, since it is in their best interests.

When it comes time to examine or pump the tank, this is typically not a problem.

  • The placement of the tank should be depicted on a “as-built” design of the home. These designs are frequently kept on file by municipal health and zoning departments. It is possible that older systems do not have such a record. It is possible to get in touch with the prior owner
  • Modern tanks are equipped with risers that protrude clearly above the ground surface. It is possible to probe a suspicious location using a thin metal rod that has been placed into the soil. It is critical to do this carefully and only on soft, damp soil in order to prevent harming the tank and its accompanying pipelines. Another option is to use a shovel, although this will need a little more effort. If a sufficient number of tank components are made of metal, a metal detector can be utilized. A tiny radio transmitter that can be flushed down the toilet and followed by a receiver can be used to communicate. The grass that grows the most lushly in a yard is frequently seen just over the sewage tank. Snow melts more quickly above the tank than it does in the rest of the yard. While they are not failsafe techniques of finding a place, they have been shown to be beneficial in the past.

What kinds of things may InterNACHI inspectors be looking for?

  • Find out when the tank was last pumped by looking at the date on the tank. The sludge level should ultimately indicate if a tank has to be pumped, although having a record of past pumping dates might be useful as a reference. Using a “sludge judge” or a similar instrument, determine the amount of sludge present. It is normal for sludge to collect on the tank bottom, but it should not take up more than one-third of the tank’s total capacity or climb to the level of the baffles. The septic tank and drainfield should be located far away from wells and streams, for obvious reasons. Make certain that the system is large enough to accommodate the household it serves. A 1,200-gallon tank is normally required for a four-bedroom house, for example. The number of people that live in the house determines the size of the tank that is necessary. The tank’s capacity in gallons may be computed based on the size of the tank. For rectangular tanks, the capacity in gallons is equal to the product of the length, breadth, and depth in feet multiplied by 7.5. For circular tanks, the capacity in gallons is calculated as 3.14 times the radius squared x the depth in feet multiplied by 7.5. Check the ground surface for any liquid waste that has found its way to the surface. This is an unclean state that signals that the system is overburdened and needs to be repaired. In order to prevent wastewater contamination of groundwater and groundwater from flowing into the tank and causing it to overfill, make certain that it is waterproof. The presence of a riser lid should be checked for cracks and the integrity of the lid should be checked as well. Check to see that the baffles are securely attached to the tank’s inlet and exit pipes. It is recommended that each drain line receives the same quantity of wastewater. By opening the distribution box, you will be able to see what they are made of. If the box becomes tipped or blocked, it will distribute effluent in an excessively large amount, and it may even flood areas of the drainfield.

In a septic tank, baffles are components that restrict wastewater entry to a sufficient degree to guarantee that particles are distilled and that solids (as well as scum) are not discharged into the drainfield. It is via this process that they are able to protect the soil’s absorptive quality and hence extend the life of the entire system. They are often constructed of the same materials as the septic tank, which might be fiberglass, steel, or concrete in construction. Inspectors should look for the following things in baffles:

  • The baffle is covered in solids. This should be reported as soon as possible because it implies overflow. There is evidence of prior overflow due to chemical and water erosion. Ideally, the sewage level should be several inches below the baffle top of the drain. A lower level implies leakage, whereas a greater level indicates obstruction.

Inspectors should be familiar with the following facts so that they may advise their clients about the various ways in which they might cause harm to their septic system:

  • Inspectors should be familiar with the following information so that they may advise their clients about the various ways in which they might cause harm to their septic system without intending to do so:
  • It is not recommended that inspectors enter the septic tank to search for cracks. Tank interiors are extremely filthy, and entering should be avoided at all costs. The fracture will most likely be located at the level of the effluent, which will have drained from the tank via the crack if one is there. An effluent level that is much lower than the level of the tank outflow is a clear indicator of the presence of a fracture. A tank that has flaws that enable sewage to escape into the surrounding soil is effectively a cesspool and should be removed as soon as possible
  • If the water comes from the tank, it indicates that the septic system is overburdened and has to be repaired. Sometimes, inspectors will use a dye that is flushed down the toilet to confirm that the water is coming from the residence and not from somewhere else. Despite the fact that this metric might be beneficial, it is not an accepted means of testing the operation of a septic system. A malfunctioning septic system will be confirmed if dye from the flushed dye shows in the puddle
  • However, a working septic system is not guaranteed if dye does not appear. It may take many days for the dye to develop, and it may be too diluted to see properly
  • It is outside the scope of a standard house inspection to evaluate a septic system, and this needs specialized skills. Laws differ from one jurisdiction to the next, and inspectors should be well-versed in them before providing this job. They should disclaim all responsibility for any component of the septic system examination that they did not do
See also:  How Can You Tell If You Have A Flooded Septic Tank? (Solution found)

Septic systems are meant to manage hazardous waste, and they may pose major health risks to both residents and inspectors if they are not properly maintained. Precautions include the following, in no particular order:

  • Solid waste should be removed from septic tanks by a professional septic tank pumping service, not by an inspector. No one else should be allowed to enter a tank unless they are a licensed and properly equipped professional. Noxious gasses such as methane can induce asphyxiation and death in a matter of minutes. When a septic tank begins to exhibit indications of fragility, proceed with extreme caution! Collapse has the potential to be deadly. Keep an eye out for tanks with rusted metal, improvised lids, or anything else that seems to be in unsafe condition.

In conclusion, septic system inspections should be conducted on a yearly basis to verify that the system is operating properly. The septic tank is the most expensive household fixture, and it will have a much shorter lifespan if it is not properly cared for and maintained.

New ASTM Precast Concrete Standard Provides Septic System Installation Test

A watertight septic system protects the system’s integrity, and establishing that integrity is crucial since such systems have grown in complexity, cost, and importance to both system owners and the environment over time. A new ASTM International standard addresses the necessity for an in-field installation test for septic systems, which had previously been lacking. ASTM C1719, Test Method for Installed Precast Concrete Tanks and Accessories by Negative Air Pressure (Vacuum) Test Prior to Backfill, was developed by Subcommittee C27.30 on Water and Wastewater Containers, which is a subcommittee of ASTM International Committee C27 on Precast Concrete Products.

Miller, quality manager of Press-Seal Gasket Corp.

As Miller explains, “ASTM C1719 will enable regulators, often state or county health agencies, to mandate a defined performance level of on-site systems that have been implemented.” “When sanitary systems regulators implemented vacuum testing, the quality of installed systems increased considerably, and the performance of those systems improved as well,” says the author.

C27.30 is open to everyone who is interested in participating.

Participation in the creation of ASTM International standards is welcomed and encouraged by the organization.

Committee C27 of the American Society for Testing and Materials Upcoming Meeting: December 6-7, 2011, December Committee Week in Tampa, Florida.

Miller of Press-Seal Gasket Corp. in Fort Wayne (Indiana), at 260-918-1626 or [email protected] Joseph Hugo, 610-832-9740, [email protected], is the ASTM staff contact. Barbara Schindler, 610-832-9603; [email protected] is the ASTM Public Relations contact. Release9008

Septic Services

One of the most expensive single components of a new house may be a wastewater treatment system on your property, sometimes known as a “septic system.” Consequently, it is critical that you understand its condition before making a purchase. A Septic System Inspection provides you with information about the components of your septic system as well as the present operating conditions of the system. The experience and skill of a qualified inspector, information supplied by the existing owner of the property, and visible circumstances at the time of the inspection are all factors that influence the outcome of a property inspection.

  1. In addition to being a member of the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association, Allied Inspection Services, Inc.
  2. All of our septic inspections are carried out in full accordance with the PSMA’s Inspection Standards by inspectors who have been qualified by the PSMA.
  3. Despite the fact that a septic inspection provides you with vital information regarding the current status of the system, it does not give any warranty or assurance that the system will continue to perform effectively for any amount of time in the future.
  4. If you require assistance in making these arrangements, please let us know.
  5. Information such as the age of the septic system, current consumption patterns, and previous service history will be provided to us as a result of this.
  6. For further information on different forms of on-lot treatment systems, see “Types of On-Lot Treatment Systems” in the next section.
  1. Septic systems, also known as on-lot wastewater treatment systems, are among the most costly single components of a new home. So it’s critical to check the quality of the item before you purchase it. When you have a septic inspection performed, you will receive detailed information on the various components of your septic system as well as its present operational status. The inspector’s experience and expertise, as well as information supplied by the existing owner of the property, are used to determine the outcome of the examination. Observable circumstances are taken into consideration throughout the inspection as well. Upon completion of each inspection, a septic system report is generated, which details the type and condition of the system and its components, any unsatisfactory conditions found in the system and the need for additional testing, a list of corrective measures or next steps, if any are required, and any additional testing that may be necessary. Members of the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association include Allied Inspection Services, Inc. (PSMA). All of our septic inspections are carried out in full accordance with the PSMA’s Inspection Standards by inspectors who have been certified by the PSMA in the last year. When it comes to on-lot system inspection, these Standards have been referred to be “industry standards” by the Commonwealth Court. In addition to providing you with vital information regarding the current status of the system, a septic inspection gives no warranty or assurance that the system will continue to work effectively for any amount of time in the future. Generally speaking, the seller’s role in a real estate transaction in Pennsylvania is to find the treatment tank(s) and absorption system, allow access to the manhole cover on the tank(s), and empty the tank(s) prior to an inspector’s arrival. When making these preparations, we can assist you if you so want to do so. It will be necessary to fill out an Authorization and Information document before the inspection, which will be sent to the existing owner of the property. Information like as the age of the septic system, current usage, and previous service history will be sent to us as a result of this process. The examination of a typical gravity-distribution style treatment system is described in the following sections. For further information on various forms of on-lot treatment systems, see “Types of On-Lot Treatment Systems” in the Resources section. The inspector will do the following tasks throughout the inspection:

Each and every on-lot wastewater treatment system is composed of three fundamental components. They are as follows:

  1. The absorption system, the distribution system, and the treatment tank are all included.

Treatment tanks are waterproof vessels that are buried in the ground and are used to collect all of the waste generated by the residence. Tanks for wastewater treatment can be built to operate either anaerobically (without oxygen) or aerobically (with oxygen) (with oxygen). The vast majority of treatment tanks are anaerobic. The treatment tank is intended to hold all of the solid waste generated by the home. Sludge is the term used to describe the solid material that settles to the bottom of the tank because it is heavier than water.

  1. An effluent layer is formed between the layers of sludge and foam, and this liquid is allowed to flow through and into the distribution system.
  2. The naturally existing bacteria in the treatment tank will digest roughly 50% of the solids present in the tank.
  3. Since 1998, multiple treatment tanks, also known as multi-compartment treatment tanks, have been utilized in systems.
  4. The distribution system is comprised of a network of pipes that transport effluent from the treatment tank to the absorption system and back again.
  5. The absorption system is critical since it is the most expensive component of an on-lot wastewater treatment system, making it a critical component of the system.

When issues do develop, it is also the most complex component to fix out of the entire group. There are several different types of absorption systems in use today, including the following:

  1. A subsurface seepage pit
  2. A subsurface seepage trench
  3. A subsurface seepage bed
  4. A subsurface seepage bed at grade level
  5. An elevated sand mound
  6. Drip irrigation
  7. Spray irrigation

Standard septic system inspections are intended to determine how well a system is working at the time of the inspection. They are not intended to diagnose problems with the system. However, there are specific circumstances in which it is difficult or impossible to accurately evaluate the operation of a sewage treatment system. They are as follows:

  1. Structures that have been unoccupied for more than 7 days (excluding new systems that have been in use for less than 30 days)
  2. Structures that have been vacant for more than 7 days (except new systems that have been in use for less than 30 days)
  3. Within the previous 30 days, new water sources have been introduced into the system
  4. And Within the previous 30 days, there has been soil fracturing activity

There are also instances in which the system’s performance is minimal and further testing is required before a decision can be reached. They are as follows:

  1. With fewer than 5 inches of dry aggregate but not inundated to the entire depth of the aggregate, subsurface gravity absorption devices are used. If you have a cesspool or seepage pit, you have a volume capacity of less than 24 hours.

Hydraulic Load Testing should be carried out in each of these situations. In order to assess the amount of clear water that an absorption system can absorb in a 24-hour period, the Hydraulic Load Test is performed. This is accomplished by introducing into the absorption system on two consecutive days a quantity of water equal to the PA-DEP-specified daily volume for the house into the absorption system. There will be no wastewater from the home let into the absorption area during this test. More information about hydraulic load tests may be found in the “Hydraulic Load Test FAQ” section.

  1. If the expected occupancy of the home is much more than the existing occupancy, it may be beneficial to do a Hydraulic Load Test (for example, five people moving into a house currently occupied by only one person).
  2. More and more house purchasers are discovering that banking institutions commonly request a “dye test” in order to make a conclusion regarding the health, function, condition, or simply presence of an onlot wastewater treatment system, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
  3. As frequently as not, the service request is received only a few days before settlement – at a time when there is a lot of pressure to complete the transaction.
  4. If you’re the seller, you’ll want to provide a thorough disclosure of EVERYTHING you know about the machine.
  5. When evaluating on-lot wastewater treatment systems, there are two primary strategies to consider.
  6. Then the evaluator wanders about the site looking for traces of the dye to determine its presence.

In addition, a full onlot wastewater treatment system examination performed in line with the Inspection Standards issued by the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association can be performed as an alternative technique.

Misplaced Confidence

A dye test to assess the condition of an onlot wastewater treatment system is analogous to depending on the drips on the garage floor to evaluate the mileage performance of a car that is normally parked over the drips to evaluate the condition of an onlot wastewater treatment system. The drips, according to your intuition, originated from the automobile. You have no idea what portion of the car is causing the drips, or whether or not that part is functioning correctly at the time. Only a causal relationship between the car and the drips can be inferred at this point.

  • There will be no more or less.
  • As a result, because the normal retention duration in a 1,000 gallon treatment tank is around three days, you should avoid drawing any conclusions based on what you do or do not see the first day the dye is introduced.
  • Similarly, if you don’t look in the correct spots, you may never see the dye, even though it has emerged on the surface of the water.
  • This will include documentation of the treatment tank’s dimensions, kind, and condition.
  • First and foremost, the Inspector’s report will note any “unsatisfactory” situations that may suggest difficulties before they progress to the degree of “regulatory” failure.
  • The system experiences a regulatory fault when it releases untreated or partly treated sewage to the surface of the earth or into bodies of water (above or below ground).
  • It is necessary to implement corrective actions in accordance with a permission given by the government.
  • It is possible that the decision that a system is unacceptable will not necessitate urgent involvement by a regulatory person.
  • Similarly, if the volume of garbage that it is intended to process varies dramatically, it may fail within a few days.
  • The system’s successful days may be shorter than the number of new tenants if, on the other hand, a young couple with four children will be moving in.
  • Were the results of the dye test correct or incorrect?

Unfortunately, there was no system check performed, and the soil obscured any signs of a possible issue that could have existed.

Select the Proper Tool

What exactly went wrong in this scenario? It’s as easy as this: the tool used (the dye test) was not the best instrument for the job at hand. If you think that a pipe is discharging sewage into a road ditch, a pipe to a stream, or even a damp area in your yard, a dye test may be the best instrument to verify or refute your suspicions, depending on the circumstances. In this case, however, a PSMA/NOF onlot wastewater treatment system examination would have been the most appropriate technique, since it would have uncovered the system’s concealed faults.

Buyers are required to make selections that are challenging at the best of times.

The system evaluator cannot provide one; instead, he or she can only provide a professional evaluation of the system’s current status and, at most, an indication of what is likely to happen if the system is left in place.

Is the lender actually being rigorous in requiring a dye test, or is he or she simply looking for a dye test result to hide behind and a warm-blooded scapegoat in the event that the onlot system does not function?

And, if the system fails, is the lender in a better position than they would have been if no test had been performed?

Make certain that the tool you choose to analyze an on-lot wastewater treatment system is appropriate for the job.

The PADEP Homeowner’s Handbook The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the management of septage in Pennsylvania (PSMA) On-lot Wastewater Treatment Inspection under the PSMA vs.

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