top of page
Septic System Inspection

Septic System Inspection:

Contact SMR for a free quote


What to Know About Septic Inspections

Are you wondering how septic inspections work? If you are buying a home with a septic tank, there are some things you need to be aware of. If you are selling your home, you could need an inspection of the septic system.

For example, here in my home state of Massachusetts, we have a law known as Title V that states upon the transfer of real estate a seller must have their septic system inspected by a septic inspector.

Septic inspectors need to be licensed in many states, so you can’t just have anyone do a septic inspection. Of course, as an owner of a property that is serviced by a septic system, it is vital to have proper maintenance so that there are no issues now or when it comes time to sell the home.

In some states having a septic inspection is a big hurdle to clear in a real estate transaction.

Let’s take an in-depth look at why septic inspections are important and what you need to know about them. Both buyers and sellers should have a firm grasp of how septic inspections work.

What is a Septic System?

Before we work through what you need to know about a septic inspection, it will be important to have at least a basic understanding of what a septic system is and how it works.

Most septic systems consist of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a leach field. People also refer to a leach field as a drain field. Septic tanks assist in digesting organic matter and will separate floatable matter such as oil, grease, and solids from the wastewater.

A septic system that is functioning properly will discharge the liquid from the septic tank to a distribution box to perforated pipes that are buried in a leach field. The pipes are designed to release the effluent into the ground slowly.

Septic tanks have been in use since the late 1800s. A septic tank, however, did not become more commonly used until the 1960s. Prior to that time a cesspool or cesspit was the most common type of waste removal.

Why Having a Septic Inspection is Important:

So, what is a septic system inspection? If you are looking to buy a home with this type of wastewater treatment system, a septic tank inspection is vital. Septic inspections make sure that the system is operating as it should so that you and your family don’t get sick thanks to a leak or other problems.

Since these types of water treatment systems are located underground, a septic inspection is something that homeowners easily overlook. However, if something does go wrong, you will regret not having had septic inspectors check your system on a regular basis.

It isn’t only when you are looking to buy a home that septic inspections are needed. A septic tank inspection should be done throughout the time you own the home. Otherwise, you could find an expensive repair bill waiting for you for this vital system in your home.

Who Has Septic Systems?

Around a fifth of homes have septic systems installed to deal with their wastewater, but despite this, many home buyers won’t have encountered them before. The vast majority of homeowners have lived with public sewers, so having a septic system can be somewhat of an anomaly.

Septic tanks are used to deal with all the wastewater from the home. This includes water from sinks, bathtubs, showers, toilets, as well as appliances. As mentioned previously, this water is filtered through what’s known as a leach field and returned to the ground.

Septic systems minimize the chances of water and soil pollution when they are working correctly.

How Septic Tank Systems Work

The wastewater from bathrooms and the kitchen leave the home going to the septic tank. In the tank, the waste and the water separate, with the solids sinking to the bottom. This will then be broken down by bacteria gradually.

The water at the top of the tank will go through pipes to the drain field or leach field. This contains gravel that filters the water before it enters the soil. The soil helps to filter the water further, making sure that the water isn’t contaminated when it reaches the groundwater level.

Many septic systems also use what is referred to as a distribution box as well.

The distribution box helps the water flow out to the leach bed in the yard.

Three Main Components of a Septic System

The three main components of a working septic system are as follows:

  • Septic tank

  • Distribution box

  • Leach field

Without anyone of these components of a septic system function properly you could have issues. Some of them can be fairly minor to correct such as a cracked cover on a septic tank.

Where big money comes in is when you have to replace a leach field. When a leach field fails you’ll be looking at big bucks to fix it.

Have a look at what to know about the cost to replace a septic system. After seeing how costly it is to replace a septic system or even a septic tank, you will realize how crucial proper maintenance can be.

How Often is a Septic Tank Inspection Required?

To make sure your septic system is functioning perfectly, you should have it inspected every 3 to 5 years. This is about the same schedule that you will need to keep when having the tank pumped as well.

If you stick to a schedule like this, your septic tank should continue to work well for the life of the system. If you have a large family, you may want to consider it slightly more often.

Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t stick to a schedule like this. Missing septic inspections and not having the tank pumped as frequently as it should be. The result tends to be that something goes wrong with the system, and only then the homeowner calls the septic inspector.

Though at that stage, the inspector is likely to recommend repair work or replacement of parts of the system. When this happens, of course, the costs are going to be a lot more than the expense of maintaining the system correctly.

A full replacement of a septic system can run from around $10,000 to $50,000 on average. These costs can increase based on things like the terrain, existing soils, groundwater, and the difficulty of installation. Septic systems are much less expensive when the groundwater is not high and the soil is gravel and not clay.

These are costs that can often be avoided with pumping and septic inspections being carried out regularly. Correct maintenance will also prevent any nasty faults from developing and should make your home easier to sell when the time comes.

bottom of page