Most homeowners and business owners probably prefer not to think about their septic system. Out of sight, out of mind, and as long as it is functioning properly, there would seem to be little cause for concern.
However, when something goes wrong with a septic system, it can be disruptive, expensive, and potentially dangerous. Taking care of issues before they become major problems can save headaches and big repair bills later.
The best way to prevent those smaller issues from becoming major issues is to have a septic inspection from a certified septic inspector. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency says, “The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional.”
When a professional is brought in to inspect a septic system, they will do one of two types of inspections:
- Visual Inspections are often done during real estate transactions. The septic expert will ask questions about the property, as well as the septic system inspection and service record. They will flush toilets and run water to all the drains in the home to ensure that there are no issues. A visual septic inspection also includes an assessment of the drainfield to check for standing water.
- Full Inspections include everything in a visual inspection, but go into more detail. The inspector will remove the cover from the septic tank to check the water level, allowing them to determine if there are any drainage issues. Dye tests may be used to see how much of the water being drained enters the septic tank. Pumping the tank allows the inspector to check for any backflow from the absorption area, which can also indicate a drainfield problem.
What Do Septic Inspectors Look for?
What happens during the septic system inspection process? Septic tank systems have multiple areas that could become problematic. Here is a summary of what inspectors will look for.
- The date that the tank was last inspected and pumped
- The sludge level to ensure it does not take up more than one-third of the tank
- The distance from the septic tank and drainfield to wells or other natural sources of water
- The system’s ability to handle the load from your home
- The capacity of your tank to ensure that it is not too low
- Riser lids for damage or cracks
- Baffle connections
- Drain lines
Get a Septic System Inspection at Least Every Three Years
Residential septic systems should be inspected at least every three years to head off any potential trouble. A septic inspection should also be done if you notice:
- Unusual odors coming from your drains
- Toilets that are flushing slowly
- Slow draining sinks
- Wet, sloppy areas over your drainfield
- Any time you plan on remodeling or renovating your home
Note that it is also recommended that a septic system should be pumped out and cleaned at least every three years.
Special Considerations When Buying or Selling a Home
Every state in the country has rules that require a seller to disclose any known problems about the property to potential buyers. This means that, if a seller knowingly withholds information about possible septic or drainfield issues, they could be liable for the costs of repair even after the home sale has been completed.
In some states, real estate septic inspections are required to be done by the seller in a real estate transaction. Even if an inspection is not mandated, however, a buyer might consider having one done, as the report can be helpful in ensuring that potential buyers feel comfortable and informed about the purchase of the home.
If a seller has not had a septic inspection completed, buyers should have one done by a licensed septic inspector. Most standard home inspections do not include the in-depth evaluation that can be provided by a septic professional, so the extra step is worth the small expense.
Buyers should also use a septic inspection as an opportunity to learn about the septic system, its past service history, whether there have been problems (especially recurrent problems), and the age of the system.
Take Care of Your Septic System
In addition to regular inspections, septic systems should be maintained like any other appliance in the home. Understanding your septic system – and the do’s and don’ts of its care – can help extend the life of the system and minimize unwelcome repair bills.
Here are a few tips for caring for a septic system:
- Avoid flushing things like paper towels, baby wipes, and tampons that won’t break down in the tank.
- Chemicals and medications can destroy the bacteria in a septic tank, so find another way to dispose of them.
- Limit the amount of bleach that goes into the system.
- Use laundry detergent and other products that are designed for homes with septic systems.
- Use an Energy Star-labelled clothes washer, which can use 50% less water than standard washing machine models.
- Spread washing machine usage throughout the week to allow more time for the septic system to treat the wastewater.
- Install high-efficiency toilets, which can use less than half the water of older toilets. This reduces the amount of water entering the septic system.
- Using faucet aerators and high-efficiency shower heads helps reduce water usage.
Contact Septic and Drainfield Depot for Your Septic Inspection
Your septic system is like any other appliance in your home. It needs periodic inspection and maintenance to ensure that it continues to function effectively. If you would like to schedule a septic inspection in and near Lakeland, FL, contact Septic and Drainfield Depot today. A licensed professional will carefully inspect each area of your septic system to ensure everything is in working order. If any repairs are needed, we supply fully transparent pricing along with an assessment of our findings.
Each of our experienced septic professionals has been put through extensive training to ensure you get only the best service. Our knowledgeable team will make sure any problems are diagnosed and fixed effectively the first time.