How to Inspect the Septic Tank Before Buying a Home

Before you buy a home, you need to do a thorough inspection of the home. If the home has a septic system, this inspection should be even more rigorous. Failure to do so may leave you with serious plumbing issues; you may even have to replace the entire septic system. This will cost you a significant amount of money.

Ask Questions

How long has the seller owned the property? How old is the septic tank? Most septic tanks will last 25-30 years. Where is the tank? You may be surprised to find that the seller does not know where it is. This may be a sign that the system is working efficiently; or that it's poorly maintained. You should also ask when it was last pumped. Also ask for septic tank records such as drawings and maintenance report to show how often it is pumped.

Visual Inspection

First try out the plumbing. Flush toilet and run taps to test the drainage. How efficient is it? Go to the site. Look out for dampness, smells and recent excavations. All these spell trouble. How close is the tank to trees or water sources such as wells?

These are also warning signs. Look at the drain field. If it's excessively wet or if there are odors coming from it, that's a sign that the system may be faulty. A full inspection will involve opening the septic tank and checking the water level. A tank that is too full may indicate that the septic tank is getting overloaded while low water levels may be a sign of leaks.

Dye Test

This is a test that uses dye to identify system failure such as clogs and effluent leaks on the earth's surface. The tank is then pumped out and checked for back up from the drain field. Of course, you cannot conduct a thorough inspection yourself. You'll need to hire a professional septic services company.

Probe Test

This test is conducted on the drain field. The inspector will dig a small hole in the field and watch to see how fast it fills with water. If it fills up quickly, there's a problem with the drain field. However, the fact that it does not fill with water does not rule out any problem.

Inspecting a home's septic system is crucial to a successful home purchase. It involves asking the right questions, conducting a visual inspection and maybe a dye test and a probe test. For a thorough and conclusive inspection, talk to a septic services professional.