Septic Inspection Checklist: Steps Used by the Pros

A septic inspection checklist is used to show that the system is working effectively and there are no signs of damage. In order to do so, inspectors must work through a very thorough checklist that takes into account the fact that many of the components in the system are buried.

Unless you are qualified to do so, it is recommended to hire a state certified inspector. Qualified inspectors will follow a rigorous checklist that covers every aspect of the system in detail. However, if you’re curious about the process, the following guide below covers all of the main aspects in a system inspection.

Before Opening the Tank
Before you even approach the tank, it is necessary to do the following:

  • Check for subsidence in and around the  system. If you spot any low areas or depressions in the soil near your tank, it could be that your system is leaking, and the tank is in danger of collapsing
  • Check for evidence of effluent breakout or wastewater backup on the surface of the ground above the drainfield.

After Opening
Once you open up the tank, there are a number of things to do pumping out the effluent. This is important because you can gather a lot of useful information about the system which wouldn’t be possible to do otherwise.

  • Measure the sludge and scum level. Ensure that these levels do not exceed the maximum allowed – if they do, the homeowner needs to have the tank pumped more often and take steps to reduce their water/waste.
  • Check for any back-flow of effluent during the pumping procedure. In other words, once the tank is pumped, wastewater shouldn’t begin flowing back inside. If it does then there’s some sort of problem down the line.
  • Ascertain the condition of the baffles. This is an important item on any inspection checklist because the baffles keep scum and sludge from flowing into the drain field. Without functioning baffles, them drain field will quickly fail.
  • Look out for an unusually high liquid level, which would indicate that there is a problem with the leach field. This could be a sign that the leach field is failing, due to a blocked or damaged pipe, root obstruction or a flooded leach field.
  • Similarly, your septic inspection checklist should note if there is an unusually low level of sewage in the tank. If so, this could be the result of a leak in the house, the pipe from the house, or the tank itself and needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.

After Pumping
The true condition of the system can only be ascertained visually after pumping. The tank should be pumped every three to five years, and then the pumped can safely perform a visual inspection, looking to see if the baffles/tees are in good shape, if the risers are securely connected, if the tank walls have any cracks, and if the tank has settled unevenly.

System Diagram
Septic System Diagram

Is a License Required?
Septic Inspection License


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