How We Inspect the Condition of A Septic Tank.
The purpose of the treatment tank or “septic tank” is to contain solid waste and to permit the beginning of bacterial action to process sewage into a combination of clarified effluent, settled sludge, or floating scum in the tank.
An intact, un-damaged septic tank is normally always filled with these materials.
However, the inspector performing a “visual” check of the septic system needs to be alert for some important findings.
HOW TO INSPECT THE SEPTIC TANK BEFORE & AFTER PUMPING.
Our photograph illustrates a simple but effective septic tank inspection tool: an extension pole that sports an adjustable mirror and a bright flashlight.
The septic tank mirror, set to an appropriate angle, combined with light from the flashlight, permits inspection of the interior of the septic tank after it has been emptied.
We may check the condition of the septic tank baffles, the cleanliness of the septic tank, and will look for cracks, breaks, or damage that might explain a septic tank leak.
We use A Septic Tank Inspection Checklist
Inspecting the Septic Tank and Septic Tank Area BEFORE Opening the Septic Tank
Subsidence (depressions or low areas in the soil) at the septic tank location – may risk dangerous, potentially fatal collapse
Recent work, excavation, modifications: Evidence of recent work which may need to be investigated to understand the condition of the septic system
Evidence of backup or effluent breakout at the surface in the septic tank area.
Inspecting the Septic Tank AFTER Opening the Septic Tank but BEFORE Pumping
When a septic tank has been located and uncovered for pumping, additional critical details may be observed before the pumping operation begins.
After Opening But Before Pumping the Septic Tank: When the septic tank is opened before it has been pumped out or cleaned, we also look for important information about the condition of the septic system is available:
Thickness of scum and sludge levels: We look for Septic tank maximum scum and sludge buildup prior to pump out, and measure the floating scum layer thickness and settled sludge layer thickness in a septic tank.
We then explain the meaning of thick or thin scum or sludge levels and high or low levels of sewage in the septic tank.
We look at the Back-flow of effluent into the tank during pumpdown – an indicator of flooded leach fields
The condition of the Septic Tank Baffles are Important: Damage can be evidence of a broken concrete septic tank baffle or a rusted-steel septic tank baffle.
Liquid and waste level in the tank: evidence of waste passing over the baffles – a flooded system, is an indicator of septic system failure.
Unusually high levels of sewage in the septic tank – suggesting a blocked outlet or drain field. The drain field may be failing due a damaged or clogged pipe, a clogged, failing drain field, or due to groundwater leaks into the septic tank or groundwater that saturates the drain field.
Unusually low levels of sewage in the septic tank – suggesting that the septic tank has a leak, can have several causes depending on the tank age and the material from which it was built.