Point-of-Sale Septic Inspection: What to Expect

Point of Sale Septic Inspection

We’ve finally rounded the corner and Spring has sprung! During this time of year, people often start giving thought to buying a new home or selling the one they already own. Whenever a septic system is present, it is always recommended to get a point-of-sale septic inspection to ensure the system is functioning as it should before you take possession of a new home. In fact, some counties, and many banks, require a septic inspection before the sale is finalized. Supeck Septic regularly performs these inspections. Want to get ahead of this inspection and give your potential buyers peace of mind that your system won’t cause them any unforeseen and often expensive headaches? We can also inspect your system and provide a report to present to potential buyers. Here’s what you can expect from a standard point-of-sale inspection.

Pre-Inspection Septic System Reconnaissance

A good inspector is well-informed about the septic system’s history before the on-site tests begin. During this phase, we access the County Health Department database to gather as much information about the septic system’s history as we can, including identifying previous problems, whether the system had a regular maintenance schedule, how frequently the system was pumped, etc. In most cases the County Health Department records provide answers to the following questions:

  1. Has the system been pumped? How recently and how frequently?
  2. Note, we never recommend a system be pumped just prior to an inspection. Doing so can taint the results.
  3. Where is the septic system located and what is its mapping? (i.e., Where is the holding tank? Where is the drainfield? Where are the covers? Etc.)
  4. What is the septic system’s history?
    1. How often has the system been maintained? By which company?
    1. What problems if any has the system had and how were they rectified?

Thorough answers to these questions will help in two ways. First, this information will prove invaluable to the technician performing the point-of-sale septic system inspection by providing a clear sense of where all components are located. Second, this information will give you, as the future owner of the home, a clear sense of how well the septic system has been maintained and what potential problems you may encounter in the future.

The On-Site Septic System Inspection

The on-site inspection consists of many different tests each test is system specific, all seeking to establish that the home’s septic system is functioning as it should.

The Flow Test

The on-site point-of-sale septic system inspection will typically begin with a “flow test.” This test seeks to determine whether the pipe used to transport liquid to the system is functioning and intact. To do this, the technician will turn on all water in the house to “charge” the system with ½ of the water the system is designed to support for 24 hours. Depending on the size of the house and septic system, this is generally a few hundred gallons. During this test, the water entering the holding tank should force the effluent through the baffles and into the drainfield.

If little to no water flows into the tank, there is a serious problem, often with the plumbing or the sanitary line. Whether the pipe is displaced or cracked, a failure at this stage may indicate tree roots or other debris is clogging the pipe, creating the potential for flooding inside the house. Such a failure may also necessitate a sewer line inspection. If the water in the holding tank rises too quickly during the flow test, a problem downstream may be to blame.

Checking the Contents of the Holding Tank

The next phase of the on-site inspection consists of evaluating the contents of the tank to determine whether a disproportionate amount of scum, effluent, and sludge are present. Taking into consideration the size of the tanks and the last cleaning date on record a recommendation of necessary maintenance services will be noted.

Inspection of the Drainfield

Finally, the technician will thoroughly examine the drainfield to determine whether it is functioning properly. If any potential problems have been identified in the previous tests, the technician will attempt to identify the source of those problems during this phase. First, the technician will visually inspect the drainfield, looking for wet areas that may indicate a flooded or clogged drainfield. They will also be alert for any foul odors, which may indicate the same. The technician may then perform a probe test to identify any potential hydraulic stress. If the probing holes fill too quickly, it may be an indication of a problem with the drainage of this system.

A point-of-sale septic system inspection is a wonderful tool for identifying potential problems a septic system may present to any future owners. Whether you’re looking to buy or are preparing to sell your home, contact us today to schedule a septic inspection.