When a public sewer system is not available, usually, the only other option is a private septic system to capture waste from the homes plumbing drains.
The purpose of the septic tank is to separate the wastewater from the solid waste allowing only wastewater to enter the drain field. Heavier solid waste settles to the bottom becoming sludge. The lighter waste rises to the top and becomes scum. It is from the middle of these layers the wastewater is drawn.
If the tank is never cleaned these layers can thicken, merging. At this point sludge and scum escape the tank infiltrating the drain field causing the soil to clog. This usually goes unnoticed until the drain field clogs to the point
of failure and begins to back up. After this point, cleaning the septic tank usually does not solve the problem and a new system may have to be installed.
A typical Home Inspection includes a limited, non-invasive, evaluation of the septic system. Part of that evaluation includes the home inspector running a heavy load of water on the drainage system by operating multiple fixtures, while at the same time, observing for any signs of potential backflow or blockage. Also, the home inspector will visually inspect the drain field and surrounding areas for any deficiencies without being invasive. Keep in mind, though, time constraints hinder the home inspector from fully evaluating the homes drainage system under normal daily loads, such as Laundry, Bathrooms and kitchens etc. This would require more than the typical 3-4-hour home inspection.
So how do I have my Septic System fully evaluated using invasive techniques?
A full evaluation by a licensed Septic Contractor is recommended. This normally includes pumping out the tank and evaluating the performance of the drain field at the same time. The use of cameras inside the tank and piping, etc. is also an option. Depending on location and/or tank size, these inspections usually cost between $300 – $500 dollars or more. Septic tanks should be evaluated and pumped empty every 3- 5 years, according to experts. Regularly cleaning your tank is the key to the life of your septic system. So, starting out with a well-maintained septic system is highly recommended.
Also, having it serviced immediately will also bring peace to mind, because things can change. Even if the septic system wasn’t serviced recently, many events could have occurred causing hidden problems. The horror story I’ve always heard was the angry tenant who poured concrete down the pipes. Obviously, that is an extreme example, but there are many things to check for.
Tree roots growing into the drain field is something that could change fast damaging the system. Knowing the maintenance is up to date is one less thing you will have to worry about before purchasing a new home.
A word of caution, though: Not all septic companies are equal. Some companies may only pump out one compartment of a two-compartment tank; some may only pump out the liquids and leave the solids in the tank. So, asking the right questions is important.
Kelting Inspections can help you ask the right questions and make sure you get all the right answers. We can help, making sure the septic system is working and has up to date maintenance. Being caught off could cost many thousands of dollars. Hope this helps!