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What to Expect from a Septic Inspection

Inspections from our experts like Paul Jaillet retiring in 2023 after 35 years!

Septic systems are an essential part of many homes, especially in rural areas where access to public sewer systems is limited. They provide a safe and efficient way to manage household wastewater, but they require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure their proper functioning. In this blog post, we will outline what a septic inspection entails and how often you should schedule an inspection. 

What Happens During a Septic Inspection?  

A septic inspection is a thorough examination of a property's septic system to ensure it is functioning correctly and efficiently. Septic systems are used to treat and dispose of wastewater in properties not connected to public sewer systems. A properly functioning septic system is vital for maintaining a clean and safe environment for both the property owner and the surrounding community. 

During a septic inspection, a qualified inspector will check various components of the system to assess its overall health. Here are some key aspects of the inspection process: 

  • Checking for leaks. The inspector will examine the tank and pipes for any signs of leakage, which could indicate a potential issue with the system. 

  • Assessing pipe condition. The inspector will evaluate the condition of the pipes, looking for any signs of damage, corrosion, or blockages. 

  • Measuring the septic tank's liquid level. The liquid level within the septic tank should be at a specific height to ensure proper functioning. The inspector will measure this level and determine if it is within the recommended range. 

  • Evaluating the overall health of the system. The inspector will assess the system's overall performance, considering factors such as the age of the system, its maintenance history, and any previous repairs. 

Common Septic Inspection Issues 

During a septic inspection, several common issues may arise: 

  • Overfilled tanks. An overfilled tank can result from excessive water use, a leaking toilet, or a malfunctioning pump. 

  • Broken or damaged pipes. Damaged pipes can lead to leaks and system inefficiency. 

  • Clogged filters. A clogged filter can restrict the flow of wastewater, leading to system backups and potential failures. 

  • Inadequate maintenance. A lack of regular maintenance can lead to system deterioration and reduced efficiency. 

How Long Does a Septic Inspection Take?  

Generally, a full septic inspection, including probing the tank, examining system components, and assessing drainage fields, can take anywhere from two to four hours. However, this time frame may be extended if the septic system is particularly complex or if the property is unusually large.  

The duration of a septic inspection can vary depending on several factors. These factors include: 

  • the size of the property,  

  • the complexity of the septic system, and  

  • the specific regulatory requirements in your area.  

Inclement weather conditions such as heavy rain or snow can impact the inspection process, potentially causing delays due to limited visibility or restricted access to certain areas of the property. Other factors, such as the need for additional equipment or personnel, may also affect the inspection's overall duration. 

How Often Should You Have Your Septic System Inspected?  

It is generally recommended that septic systems be inspected at least once every three years. However, factors such as the size of your household, the age and type of your septic system, and the amount of water you use can affect the frequency of inspections. For example, larger households or homes with garbage disposals may require more frequent inspections, while newer systems with advanced treatment technologies may need less frequent checks. 

If you are purchasing a property, you should have the septic system inspected before finalizing or moving forward with the purchase. You should complete this during your due diligence period.  

Consequences of Neglecting Regular Inspections 

If a septic system is not inspected regularly, several problems can arise: 

  • System failure. Over time, sludge and scum can build up in the septic tank, reducing its efficiency and eventually causing the system to fail. This can result in sewage backups in your home, foul odors, and contaminated groundwater. 

  • Expensive repairs. Neglecting regular inspections can lead to costly repairs or even the need for a complete replacement of your septic system. As we mentioned, during an inspection, several common issues can be found; addressing these smaller issues immediately can help you increase your system’s lifespan.  

  • Environmental damage. A malfunctioning septic system can contaminate nearby water sources, posing a risk to public health and the environment. 

Tips for Homeowners: Keeping Your Septic System in Good Condition 

Between inspections, you can take steps to maintain your septic system. Here are some tips for maintaining your septic system and preventing problems: 

  • Conserve water. Use water-efficient appliances and fixtures and avoid overloading your septic system with excessive water use. 

  • Dispose of waste properly. Do not flush non-biodegradable items like diapers, wipes, or feminine hygiene products down the toilet, and avoid using your garbage disposal for substantial amounts of food waste. 

  • Limit chemical use. Harsh chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria in your septic system, so use eco-friendly cleaning products and avoid pouring paint, oil, or other hazardous substances down the drain. 

  • Maintain your drain field. Keep the area around your drain field clear of trees and shrubs and avoid driving or parking heavy vehicles on it. 

Schedule an Inspection Today  

Regular inspections by a qualified professional are crucial in ensuring the proper working of your septic system. A professional inspector, such as those at Wind River Environmental, can identify potential issues before they become major problems, helping you save money on expensive repairs and protecting your investment in your home. Don't take chances with your septic system– call (877) 560-9007 to schedule a routine inspection today!  

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