Septic Inspections


A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems

Did you know that as a homeowner you’re responsible for maintaining your septic system? Did you know that maintaining your septic system protects your investment in your home? Did you know that you should periodically inspect your system and pump out your septic tank?

If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.

This guide will help you care for your septic system. It will help you understand how your system works and what steps you can take as a homeowner to ensure your system will work properly. To help you learn more, consult the resources listed at the back of this booklet.

Top Four Things You Can Do to Protect Your Septic System

Why should I maintain my septic system?

When septic systems are properly designed, constructed, and maintained, they effectively reduce or eliminate most human health or environmental threats posed by pollutants in household wastewater. However, they require regular maintenance or they can fail. Septic systems need to be monitored to ensure that they work properly throughout their service lives.

Saving money

A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value and could pose a legal liability.

Protecting health and the environment

Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.

With one-fourth of U.S. homes using septic systems, more than 4 billion gallons of wastewater per day is dispersed below the ground’s surface. Inadequately treated sewage from septic systems can be a cause of groundwater contamination. It poses a significant threat to drinking water and human health because it can contaminate drinking water wells and cause diseases and infections in people and animals. Improperly treated sewage that contaminates nearby surface waters also increases the chance of swimmers contracting a variety of infectious diseases. These range from eye and ear infections to acute gastrointestinal illness and diseases like hepatitis.

The Maintenance Inspection

The maintenance inspection determines the need for pumping and to identify minor problems before they become major defects that threaten human health and the environment.

There are two maintenance inspection subtypes:

A first maintenance inspection; and
A routine maintenance inspection.

For the Home Inspector

The first maintenance inspection is designed for the home inspector to report to their client (1) the location of the system components, (2) how the system works, and (3) maintenance recommendations using visual-only, non-invasive inspection techniques.

For the Septic Contractor

The routine maintenance inspection assumes that the components have already been located.

As the Home Inspector, we go above and beyond the minimum standards when applicable. We will trace leach lines, locate and identify buried or non visible septic equipment, and provide extensive reporting as to the serviceability and condition of the system at the time of inspection.
The national average for septic tank repair costs between $750 and $3,000, with the average homeowner paying $2,000 to replace a broken lateral line. Repair prices may vary based on the problem and the amount of work required. A broken plastic lid for example can be repaired for just $150, whereas a full tank replacement can exceed $10,000 and an entire leach field replacement in a large space may cost up to $20,000.

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