Septic System Testing
A conventional onsite wastewater system, which is also known as a "Septic System" is an individual wastewater treatment system that uses the soil to treat small waste water flows. They are typically found in a rural areas, or other areas where public sewers are not available. All septic systems are individually designed for the specific site, but most are based on the same principles.
conventional septic system is made up of a septic tank, a distribution box, a
soil absorption field (also called the drain field), and varous connecting pipes
and distribution connections.
The septic tank allows the heavy solids and the lighter scum materials in the wastewater to seperate from the liquids. The function of the tank is to hold the solid waste material and prevent it from reaching the soil absorption field. the solids in the tank are part partially decomposed by bactreria and the rest is later removed by "pumping" the septic tank (EPA recommends pumping the tank contents every 3-4 years). Treatment of the wastewater occurs in both the septic tank and the absorption field.
Signs of Septic System Failure:
~Do drains in the house empty slowly or not at all?
~Does sewage back up into the house through drain lines?
~Are there any wet, smelly spots in the yards or foliage?
~Does the dishwasher or laundry drain into the yard or a "dry well"?
~Is the septic tank effuent piped so it drains to a road ditch,
a storm sewer, a stream, or is it connected to a farm drain tile?
If you answered "YES" to any of the above questions, you have a septic problem. Recommend you have system inspected.
(Average fee: $100 - $650)
The two methods used to conduct a septic inspection are visual and destructive:
1. The visual septic dye test is combined with "pushing" the waste system. This test involves the running of 3 plumbing fixtures simultaneously for 30-45 minutes to see if there is any slow-draining fixtures, backups, or surface breakouts. It also involves flushing colored dye into the waste lines looking for leaks. This type of test is acceptable to most lenders and is the most affordable. This test costs $125 ($100 if done at the same time as the home inspection).
2. The destructive septic inspection involves excavating the tank, opening the access ports to look into the tank, opening the distribution box, using a rod to measure the levels of the scum and solid wastes in the tank, and in many instances, it involves pumping the tank if the baffles and filter are not visible. Many sellers will frown on this type of test and unless the buyer will pay for the test, it is rarely done. The cost of this test is about $500-$650.
The costs of repairing or replacing a defective septic system can be very expensive and can range from $1,500 (repairs to drain lines) to $6,000 (replacing a failed system). Do not take the inspection of the system lightly. Use only highly trained installers or inspectors.
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