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  1. #1
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    Default Septic tank on an six year old home...

    First let me start by saying that I tell all of my clients with homes on septic that they need to have the tanks pumped and inspected and I do not do that!

    Yesterday was a prime example of why we as home inspectors should always tell our clients to have the septic pumped and inspected. While I was doing the inspection the septic guy showed up and uncovered the tank lids. I noticed from inside that he was standing around looking at the tank so I walked outside to take a look myself. It took no time to see that the tank was full and then the septic guy showed my with his probe that the baffle on the end was missing. The field lines had filled up with solids! This was on a very nice six year old home.

    It is virtually impossible to tell the condition of a septic tank unless you pull the covers and look inside! I hope all of you are deferring this type of inspection to folks that specialize in septic tanks and have the proper equipment to deal with them. This should be a good example of why we should let an expert handle the crap!

    Inspection Referral SOC
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  2. #2
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    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    In addition to what Scott said - I always told my clients the same thing: have the tank pumped out and inspected, and I encouraged that to be done the same time as the inspection if possible (not that I necessarily enjoyed looking into septic tanks, but what I saw at times turned out to be quite interesting).

    At one inspection in Coconut Grove, the septic tank guy pumped the tank out, I went to see inside the tank - as I walked up, he was just standing there looking into the tank ... when I got there he said "You won't see anything because of the roots."

    Roots? Yes, tree roots. Tree roots the size of an NFL players legs! The tank was FULL of monstrous sized tree roots.

    He explained to the owners, and the client, that he could not tell anything about the tank until he cuts the roots out with a chainsaw - which is what the owner had him do.

    Ended up that the tank was okay, the tree roots got between the tank lid and the tank, and, the tank being full or nutriments ... the root were in hog heaven as some might say.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    I do a lot inspections that have well and septic. There is no conceivable way that a proper septic inspection can be done without pumping it. For any newbie in this business, unless you have a septic pumping tank truck (and training), you should never even think about inspecting the septic.

    On the Colorado front range, it's required to have the septic pumped and inspected by an approved septic technician at time of sale of a home and then, the county issues a Use Permit which is good until the home sells again. About ten percent will have some problem. Mine has a minor problem with the top of the divider crumbling. It's not at the point that repair is needed but I installed a flow diverter to slow the deterioration.

    The lids have to be accessible. On older installations, it can be frustrating finding the tank. Mine was under two feet of soil when we moved in.

    I usually spend an extra 30 minutes on acreage homes explaining the well and septic to first time acreage buyers.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    I always tell my clients to have the tank pumped.
    1. You find the tank.
    2. It gets pumped.
    3. You know the condition of the tank after its pumped.


  5. #5
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    Mar 2007
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    Georgetown, KY
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    537

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Had one a couple of years ago where I used the standard warning. Realtor convinced them it wasn't necessary because the listing agent had identified that there was a septic system and the current owners (for 10 years) hadn't had any problems with the septic system.

    A couple of months after moving in, the owner found poop flowing out of a straight pipe about 150 feet downhill from the house.

    After a bit of legal wrangling (that I wasn't involved in), the agents' insurance paid to install a septic system.

    ======================================
    This property is reported to have a septic system. I don't know. I don't look for septic systems. In accordance with home inspection standards of practice, septic systems are excluded from the inspection. I don't possess the necessary equipment (pump truck) to properly empty the tank and inspect it. I recommend that you have the septic system fully inspected by a qualified septic system technician B 4 U Close. Septic systems are simple to maintain but expensive to fix. For more information on septic systems on the internet see:
    US EPA Onsite Wastewater Systems

    I also recommend that you consult with the local county health department to see what information they have on the septic system, as the health department regulates and oversees local septic systems.
    ============================================

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

  6. #6
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    No. San Diego Co., CA
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Jerry
    Scott used the 'defer' word...


  7. #7
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    Lake Barrington, IL
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Practice around here is to put a dye down a drain and see if anything comes up through the surface of the yard. I have no idea who thinks of this stuff but R.E.agents tell their clients that they'll be good to go with this "test." Inspectors like me who recommend tank pumping are regarded as trouble makers.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  8. #8
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    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Practice around here is to put a dye down a drain and see if anything comes up through the surface of the yard. I have no idea who thinks of this stuff but R.E.agents tell their clients that they'll be good to go with this "test." Inspectors like me who recommend tank pumping are regarded as trouble makers.
    I consider dye to be a marginal test but since our local rules have made those moot, I no longer have to discuss the merits of them.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2012
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    Massacusetts
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Practice around here is to put a dye down a drain and see if anything comes up through the surface of the yard. I have no idea who thinks of this stuff but R.E.agents tell their clients that they'll be good to go with this "test." Inspectors like me who recommend tank pumping are regarded as trouble makers.

    In Massachusetts Septic systems are required to be inspected at every sale and must pass inspection to sell (my understanding) but these are also done only by septic guys - good idea too and they pump the system, I see this as a much needed requirement aroung the country - but then again I also think making things standard is a good thing too.

    I like the dye thing - what color do the realtors want you use - green if it has grass (some realtors are winners but it is all about the money)


  10. #10
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    Lake Barrington, IL
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    A few years ago I had sewage back up through a floor drain in a walkout basement - what a mess! The septic system had just "passed" a dye test. As it turned out, the tank was blocked up with solids and the dye never got through to the field.

    In my view you gotta get into the tank and the first couple of distribution boxes if you want to know what's going on.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  11. #11

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    We tell people to get it pumped TWICE. Once NOW, and again in about a year.

    The Pump guy will then tell you based on YOUR usage how often you need to have him come by. Most systems it is yearly, but sometimes in houses with big tanks and few occupants, it is every 2-3 years.

    PS... it is not a good thing when the Septic person says "Oh My..." as he opens the lid. Normally an exclamation from them is expensive...


  12. #12
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    Washington State
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    In the two counties I serve here in Washington State, it's a requirement when selling a home on a septic, to have the tank pumped and system evaluated not only by the Pumper, but someone from the county has to put their John Hancock on it to be official.


  13. #13
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    Jun 2007
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    First let me start by saying that I tell all of my clients with homes on septic that they need to have the tanks pumped and inspected and I do not do that!

    Yesterday was a prime example of why we as home inspectors should always tell our clients to have the septic pumped and inspected. While I was doing the inspection the septic guy showed up and uncovered the tank lids. I noticed from inside that he was standing around looking at the tank so I walked outside to take a look myself. It took no time to see that the tank was full and then the septic guy showed my with his probe that the baffle on the end was missing. The field lines had filled up with solids! This was on a very nice six year old home.

    It is virtually impossible to tell the condition of a septic tank unless you pull the covers and look inside! I hope all of you are deferring this type of inspection to folks that specialize in septic tanks and have the proper equipment to deal with them. This should be a good example of why we should let an expert handle the crap!
    I've inspected plenty of country properties with septic systems. I have a very hard time getting the client to understand these very important points in bold above. Unfortunately we have an Inspector in this area who claims to perform complete septic inspections, attempts to mask his NAWT certification as a license, and claims/claimed to be able to perform a "State Certification" on septic systems. Many consumers are duped by this type of activity!

    Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!
    www.psinspection.com
    Texas License# 7593

  14. #14

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    The following is from a brochure we hand out...it says a lot...

    The following article was written by Mary L. Miller, Ph.D., Laboratory Director, Fredericktown Labs Inc and subsequently published in the Frederick County Association of Realtors Newsletter. Septic Inspections: Why have septic inspections become so complicated? What is the minimum requirement and when should more than that be done? Is it really necessary to pump the tank?


    For many years, the standard septic inspection that was performed for real estate transfer purposes consisted of a “visual” inspection of the ground surrounding a residence. Water was sometimes introduced into the system, sometimes not, and the inspector walked around the yard looking for any indications of “septic outbreak” such as unexplained wet spots, or telltale odor. If water from the house was introduced into the septic tank, sometimes a fluorescent dye was introduced at the same time, and the inspection was then called a “septic dye test.” Due to some large lawsuits and other pressure, the Maryland Legislature in 1999 passed a Law: 9-217.1 that states “After July 1,1999, every person engaged in the business of inspecting an on-site sewage disposal system for a transfer of property must certify to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that the person has completed a course of instruction, approved by the Department,. In the proper inspection of on-site sewage disposal systems” This means that anyone who has not taken an approved course can not legally perform a septic inspection for real estate transfer purposes. The material presented in the course outlines very specifically, what MDE considers to be the proper approach to conducting a septic inspection. It consists of four parts.

    1. A file search of governmental records to determine if the system was put in under permit, if there have been any modifications or repairs to the system, or if any problem s with the system have been documented.
    2. An owner/tenant interview to find out and document what the residents know about the system and what their experience with the system has been (e.g., Is the system currently in use or, if not, how long has the residence been vacant? How many people are using it? Have they had any problems? Have they had the system pumped? Have they had any repairs performed? Were they done under permit?)
    3. An onsite field inspection of the system to include introducing water and fluorescent dye into the system, opening the tank, pumping out the contents, examining the tank for design, contents (scum, sludge, depth, etc.), integrity, and presence of baffles. The drainfield is evaluated for its ability to accept effluent properly (i.e., does not cause the tank to overfill and does not outbreak to the surface of the ground).
    4. Preparation of a report off findings that discusses and documents all of the above.

    The type of inspection detailed above is much more time consuming and costly to perform than the traditional inspection done in the past. Many people are resistant to the idea of performing such a complex and costly inspection, however, the existence of the Maryland law makes it difficult to rationalize doing anything less. Should a problem arise with the system after the property transfers hands, the buyers would be within their right to question why an inspection that did not meet MDE recommendations had been performed when; by law, the inspector had been instructed in the “proper” inspection of septic systems. Should the problem result in a lawsuit, the inspector, the seller, and the real estate agent would all be vulnerable during litigation. Some inspectors will perform a traditional visual or dye test if the buyer is willing to sign a paper stating that they understand the limitations of the test they have requested. This can make sense when the property has an old antiquated system and the buyers recognize that they will probably have to put in a new system and do not went to pay to hear what they already know. It can also make sense if the property is brand new with a new system that has just been installed under permit. In all other cases, it is highly recommended that the MDE protocol be followed.
    A Message from Inspections by Bob: Inspections by Bob does not believe that doing less than the suggested approach is wise, and in fact in the processes of having his own system inspected discovered that his baffles were damaged. A dye test or any other test that did not involve opening, pumping, and examining the tank would have resulted in contamination of his field and early and expensive field repairs. Inspections by Bob does not make recommendations as to contractors, but if you ask, he will tell you who maintains his septic system.


  15. #15
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    Mar 2010
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    Prescott, AZ
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    91

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    I do a lot inspections that have well and septic. There is no conceivable way that a proper septic inspection can be done without pumping it. For any newbie in this business, unless you have a septic pumping tank truck (and training), you should never even think about inspecting the septic.

    On the Colorado front range, it's required to have the septic pumped and inspected by an approved septic technician at time of sale of a home and then, the county issues a Use Permit which is good until the home sells again. About ten percent will have some problem. Mine has a minor problem with the top of the divider crumbling. It's not at the point that repair is needed but I installed a flow diverter to slow the deterioration.

    The lids have to be accessible. On older installations, it can be frustrating finding the tank. Mine was under two feet of soil when we moved in.

    I usually spend an extra 30 minutes on acreage homes explaining the well and septic to first time acreage buyers.


    Lon, FYI in case you ever run into one of these:

    I was a builder in Jefferson County up to the '80s, in the mountains (Evergreen, Conifer), not the flatlands. For a few years they required a 'split' leach field with a diverter valve. Theory was two 1/2 size fields that have 6 months to dry out are better than one large field. Unfortunately this did not take those two mutually exclusive words into consideration: Homeowner Maintenance. In reality this proved that if no one ever uses the diverter valve, one 1/2 size leach field will fail in 1/2 the time of a full size field.

    Then for about a year they required a dousing tank. Again a good theory- in normal use when the effluent 'trickles' into the leach field, the lowest parts of the field get saturated the most. By having a dousing tank that fills up and dumps, the entire leach field gets saturated, which should extend the life of the field. Problem was the dousing tanks would fail to dump, causing backups into the septic tanks and eventually into the home.

    These requirements would depend on the perc test. I would assume that by the '90s they were requiring alternate systems, like we do here in AZ.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  16. #16
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    Charlotte NC
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Some very informative reading at this site: Septic System Design

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  17. #17
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    Mar 2007
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    Alton Bay NH
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    49

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Here in NH it's not uncommon for home inspectors to do the septic at the same time as the home inspection. In fact 90% of my inspections are full home, septic, water, radon ETC. Clients love the fact they can schedule everything with one appointment and receive one report.

    We also do a fair amount of commercial PCA that include septic. I also do septic and well evaluations for a medical company who installs dialysis equipment for in home treatment. We go out prior to the equipment installation and document the condition of the septic system and conduct a pressure/flow test on the well.
    NH has a very good training program in place which may be the model for septic evaluation licensing.

    As far as pumping goes, why tell your client they should pump the tank? That should be the owners responsibility. You don't need the tank pump to evaluate it properly and if it's dead of winter pumping the tank and letting it sit empty could cause it to crack, tanks are better off full until spring. Out of approximately 150 inspections I may find 5-6 tanks that have issue's, usually the outlet baffle which has deteriorated and fallen off. This can be easily found by removing the outlet cover and the baffle is repaired by installing a PVC T with an extension pipe.

    Check out my website nhsepticinspection.com Lots of good info here on septic inspections.

    Or go here Proper method for inspecting septic systems - InterNACHI Inspection Forum where I've been documenting septic evaluations for the last four years.

    Finally, I know alot of you guys are ASHI and most of the guys here in NH that do septic evaluations are ASHI. In fact, ASHI shares an office with Granite State Designers and Installers, the only septic trade association here in NH and have developed the training program.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Russell View Post
    Here in NH it's not uncommon for home inspectors to do the septic at the same time as the home inspection.
    Fascinating how differently things are done in different parts of the country.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Russell View Post
    As far as pumping goes, why tell your client they should pump the tank? That should be the owners responsibility. You don't need the tank pump to evaluate it properly and if it's dead of winter pumping the tank and letting it sit empty could cause it to crack, tanks are better off full until spring.
    I could not disagree more. There is no way and I mean NO WAY to properly inspect a septic tank without pumping it. You can't find the crack at the bottom if it is full. If you are concerned with leaving it dry, then run the water until it's full.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  19. #19
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    Jun 2007
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    The Blacklands Of Texas
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Russell View Post
    Here in NH it's not uncommon for home inspectors to do the septic at the same time as the home inspection. In fact 90% of my inspections are full home, septic, water, radon ETC. Clients love the fact they can schedule everything with one appointment and receive one report.

    In Texas a Home Inspector can only inspect and provide their opinion on the condition of the system. Only particularly licensed individuals can provide any true "certification" of the condition of a septic system. Unfortunately we do have Home Inspectors here with their NAWT certification who claim to provide "State" or "Mortgage Company" required "Certifications" of the septic system condition for the transfer of a property.

    We also do a fair amount of commercial PCA that include septic. I also do septic and well evaluations for a medical company who installs dialysis equipment for in home treatment. We go out prior to the equipment installation and document the condition of the septic system and conduct a pressure/flow test on the well.
    NH has a very good training program in place which may be the model for septic evaluation licensing.

    As far as pumping goes, why tell your client they should pump the tank? That should be the owners responsibility. You don't need the tank pump to evaluate it properly and if it's dead of winter pumping the tank and letting it sit empty could cause it to crack, tanks are better off full until spring. Out of approximately 150 inspections I may find 5-6 tanks that have issue's, usually the outlet baffle which has deteriorated and fallen off. This can be easily found by removing the outlet cover and the baffle is repaired by installing a PVC T with an extension pipe.

    As for this I agree with Lon that I could not disagree with you more! I do advise my clients, and will continue to advise my clients, pumping the system is needed and provides significant advantages for the following reasons.
    1. Without pumping the system you can not fully inspect the condition of the tanks. In our soil conditions here tanks can be damaged by misuse, lack of use, and abuse.
    2. When the pumpers here work they will look at contents for matting, abuse, etc. I've heard some weird stuff gets pulled out of septic tanks.
    3. Whether the system is anaerobic or aerobic the client now knows the tanks have been pumped. I tell my clients to have them pumped again no later than three years after moving in to get an idea of how they have been using it and how often they will need to pump based on their usage.


    As for leaving tanks empty any good pumper will at least partly fill the solids tank to prevent any dry storage from occurring. Some also leave a small amount in the bottoms just to have some bacteria available to jump start the process.

    Who pays for pumping the system is not our concern as buyers need to perform their due diligence. I always recommend that they have the full home inspection performed and partial/limited inspection of the septic performed. If they are happy to that point, and choose to continue with the purchase, then have the septic system pumped and fully evaluated. That way they don't spend the money uselessly. The only time not having this done might be possible is if the owner keeps meticulous records, these records are made available to the buyer, the buyer checks the records to ensure they are not fabricated, all work has been performed by reputable septic companies with workmanship guarantees
    , and the tanks have been recently pumped.

    Finally, I know alot of you guys are ASHI and most of the guys here in NH that do septic evaluations are ASHI. In fact, ASHI shares an office with Granite State Designers and Installers, the only septic trade association here in NH and have developed the training program.

    Does ASHI advise its members to advertise their septic inspections as full, complete, or whatever you want to call it septic inspections?
    I have added comments in blue above. Any consumer that does not perform full due diligence on a septic system is asking for potential trouble. Any Inspector who advises against a consumers due diligence is also asking for trouble. I believe I'll stay with advising my clients to perform their full due diligence!

    Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!
    www.psinspection.com
    Texas License# 7593

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    This should be a good example of why we should let an expert handle the crap!
    To us it may be crap, but it's their bread and butter.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  21. #21
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    Hercules, CA
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    An old public health inspector once told me this story.

    He went out to inspect the septic tank at the home of a man and his wife. The husband opened up the tank and it had a bunch of condoms floating in it. The husband, upon seeing all the condoms, said, "Hey, I don't use those!"

    Think about it for a minute...you'll figure it out.

    Thom Huggett, PE, SE, CBO

  22. #22

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Regarding pumping a tank just prior to a septic inspection, it should never be done. Doing so will take away valuable information (present operating level of tank)as well as keep you from evaluating whether or not the absorption device (trenches, seepage pit, etc.) can still effectively receive household waste.

    If there is a crack in the tank below the liquid line, it will manifest itself in two ways depending on the hydraulic pressure on the exterior of the tank. Water will either enter the tank through the crack, causing water to flow out when no house fixtures are running or the operating level in the tank will be low due to effluent seeping through the crack into the surrounding soil.

    Hope this info helps. FYI: I only do well and septic inspections and have inspected over 40,000 systems.

    With best regards,


    Terry B. VanderMeersch
    Licensed Environmental Health Practitioner


  23. #23
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    Mar 2012
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    Lansdale, PA
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    876

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    We have a few very good septic inspectors around here. It is not uncommon for them to spend one to two hours or more inspecting the system. Two days ago one inspector (who is very experienced) was at the house for over three hours. It is not standard practice to pump the systems. If operating correctly they should be able to see the baffles. They use a large mirror on a long pole. I only see them call for pumping if there is a problem. They sometimes call for hydraulic load tests.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Its common practice to have the septic tank pumped and inspected up here. Agents try and have it done during the home inspection, failing which its done prior to close of title by vendor.

    Its better for clients to be there to see first hand and ask questions in order to satisfy their due diligence requirements. And to see where the tank is and weeping field. Its also a good idea to have the honey wagon operator who has serviced/installed the system to pump and inspect since they have a historical perspective.

    The three layers in the tank, scum, grey water, and solids can provide info to honey wagon operator as to length between pumpings, occupant loads, et ceteras.


  25. #25

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Again, it is never good practice to pump a septic tank just prior to a septic inspection.

    As to having a septic pumper provide information regarding the operation of a seepage device...equally bad practice. Their licensure (If it is even required) extends only to pumping tanks!!

    I have failed many systems that septic pumpers and septic contractors have passed.

    Also, due diligence is not standing over an empty septic tank.

    It sounds like many of you are doing your clients a great disservice.

    With best regards,

    Terry


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    Again, it is never good practice to pump a septic tank just prior to a septic inspection.
    Nothing about your commentary here makes you the final authority or gives you the last word. Having said that, I've never seen a septic tech begin the inspection with pumping the tank.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    It sounds like many of you are doing your clients a great disservice.
    Did anyone here say that septics should be pumped prior to beginning the inspection? Maybe I missed that comment but it was hardly "many" saying that.
    Obviously different regions have different practices, but around these here parts, I don't know a single HI who does septic inspections. In most of the country, HIs aren't equipped to do septic inspections nor try to do them. Even before septic inspections became mandatory here, I referred 100% of them out.

    Last edited by Lon Henderson; 03-27-2015 at 08:23 AM.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    Again, it is never good practice to pump a septic tank just prior to a septic inspection.

    As to having a septic pumper provide information regarding the operation of a seepage device...equally bad practice. Their licensure (If it is even required) extends only to pumping tanks!!

    I have failed many systems that septic pumpers and septic contractors have passed.

    Also, due diligence is not standing over an empty septic tank.

    It sounds like many of you are doing your clients a great disservice.

    With best regards,

    Terry
    Around here the septic pumper does the inspection. And he pumps the tank 'during' the inspection, not 'just prior' to. After 22 years as a home inspector here, I have never heard a complaint about the septic inspector missing something. And I have heard of them finding things wrong occasionally.

    Statements like "I have failed many systems that septic pumpers and septic contractors have passed" concerns me greatly. if you said 'occasional' rather than 'many' it would be more believable to me. But now it sounds to me that you are one of those people that feels they must find something wrong to justify their fee. Sounds like you may be a little bitter because other guys can do your job for less. I love to inspect a nice house and find very little wrong. It takes less time, and even if I haven't found many things for my client to fix I have given them peace of mind.

    As far as recommending your client be there when the septic is pumped, I think that's a great idea. How is that possibly doing our client a "great disservice"? I inspected a home with a very complicated solar system that provided some electricity, heat and hot water. The control panel looked like it came from a science fiction movie. I recommended an inspection by an appropriate contractor. I also recommended the client be present to ask the contractor questions. How is this a disservice?

    So 'many times' you find things wrong that mere mortal pumpers and contractors cannot. And any home inspector that doesn't agree with your way of doing things is doing their client a 'great disservice'. I have to say if you were in my area you would not be on my referral list.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  28. #28

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    Around here the septic pumper does the inspection. And he pumps the tank 'during' the inspection, not 'just prior' to. After 22 years as a home inspector here, I have never heard a complaint about the septic inspector missing something. And I have heard of them finding things wrong occasionally.

    Statements like "I have failed many systems that septic pumpers and septic contractors have passed" concerns me greatly. if you said 'occasional' rather than 'many' it would be more believable to me. But now it sounds to me that you are one of those people that feels they must find something wrong to justify their fee. Sounds like you may be a little bitter because other guys can do your job for less. I love to inspect a nice house and find very little wrong. It takes less time, and even if I haven't found many things for my client to fix I have given them peace of mind.

    As far as recommending your client be there when the septic is pumped, I think that's a great idea. How is that possibly doing our client a "great disservice"? I inspected a home with a very complicated solar system that provided some electricity, heat and hot water. The control panel looked like it came from a science fiction movie. I recommended an inspection by an appropriate contractor. I also recommended the client be present to ask the contractor questions. How is this a disservice?

    So 'many times' you find things wrong that mere mortal pumpers and contractors cannot. And any home inspector that doesn't agree with your way of doing things is doing their client a 'great disservice'. I have to say if you were in my area you would not be on my referral list.
    Randy,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Regarding the septic pumper / contractors, they are not allowed to do real estate inspections in our state. However, a number of them still do and unfortunately, I have had to follow up on a lot of their inspections.

    Regarding your other replies, I don't think you looked closely enough at my comments because you missed my point. I would love to have an intelligent interaction.

    Best regards,

    Terry

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    Around here the septic pumper does the inspection. And he pumps the tank 'during' the inspection, not 'just prior' to. After 22 years as a home inspector here, I have never heard a complaint about the septic inspector missing something. And I have heard of them finding things wrong occasionally.

    Statements like "I have failed many systems that septic pumpers and septic contractors have passed" concerns me greatly. if you said 'occasional' rather than 'many' it would be more believable to me. But now it sounds to me that you are one of those people that feels they must find something wrong to justify their fee. Sounds like you may be a little bitter because other guys can do your job for less. I love to inspect a nice house and find very little wrong. It takes less time, and even if I haven't found many things for my client to fix I have given them peace of mind.

    As far as recommending your client be there when the septic is pumped, I think that's a great idea. How is that possibly doing our client a "great disservice"? I inspected a home with a very complicated solar system that provided some electricity, heat and hot water. The control panel looked like it came from a science fiction movie. I recommended an inspection by an appropriate contractor. I also recommended the client be present to ask the contractor questions. How is this a disservice?

    So 'many times' you find things wrong that mere mortal pumpers and contractors cannot. And any home inspector that doesn't agree with your way of doing things is doing their client a 'great disservice'. I have to say if you were in my area you would not be on my referral list.
    Randy,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Regarding the septic pumper / contractors, they are not allowed to do real estate inspections in our state. However, a number of them still do and unfortunately, I have had to follow up on a lot of their inspections.

    Regarding your other replies, I don't think you looked closely enough at my comments because you missed my point. I would love to have an intelligent interaction.

    Best regards,

    Terry


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    Again, it is never good practice to pump a septic tank just prior to a septic inspection.
    Again, it is a common and very good practice to pump the tank for inspection of it.

    Think about what you are thinking before you say it - pumping not only make sense, but every septic tank inspector/contractor can explain why to you.

    In addition to what you are saying about NOT pumping the tank, pumping the tank can tell you the same and more, and can actually tell you about the tank itself.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  30. #30

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Again, it is a common and very good practice to pump the tank for inspection of it.

    Think about what you are thinking before you say it - pumping not only make sense, but every septic tank inspector/contractor can explain why to you.

    In addition to what you are saying about NOT pumping the tank, pumping the tank can tell you the same and more, and can actually tell you about the tank itself.
    Jerry:

    Good morning! Thanks for your response. I realize in certain parts of the country it may be common, but is still not a good practice. Pumping a tank prior to the inspection removes valuable evidence. If a tank truly needs to be pumped, you can recommend it in you report. The only thing routine pumping (as part of the inspection process) does is add unnecessary expense to the inspection process.

    The only part of the tank that degrades over time is what is above the liquid line. This degradation is due to one of the by-products of anaerobic digestion. This area above the liquid line can easily be inspected for deterioration with a mirror and power beam. No degradation occurs below the liquid line, so inspecting that part of the tank has no value.

    Hope this is helpful and best regards,

    Terry


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Too many issues that can go undiscovered if not pumped. Cracks, spalling, damaged baffles, debris in tank which should not be there, such as piece of concrete from damaged lids, rocks/stones...

    Up here the routine and industry standard is to pump the tank in order to provide full assessment.

    Approx. cost for pumping is $250 Cdn dollars.


  32. #32
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    May 2010
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    No. San Diego Co., CA
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    Jerry:

    Good morning! Thanks for your response. I realize in certain parts of the country it may be common, but is still not a good practice. Pumping a tank prior to the inspection removes valuable evidence. If a tank truly needs to be pumped, you can recommend it in you report. The only thing routine pumping (as part of the inspection process) does is add unnecessary expense to the inspection process.

    The only part of the tank that degrades over time is what is above the liquid line. This degradation is due to one of the by-products of anaerobic digestion. This area above the liquid line can easily be inspected for deterioration with a mirror and power beam. No degradation occurs below the liquid line, so inspecting that part of the tank has no value.

    Hope this is helpful and best regards,

    Terry
    Terry
    Degradation is one thing but I have seen several tanks with cracks, leading to false evacuation of liquids, which would not have been exposed without pumping. On the rare occasion I see a septic system, I invariably recommend having it pumped, inspected and certified by a reputable Septic service prior to escrow closing.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    Pumping a tank prior to the inspection removes valuable evidence.
    Once again! Most of us, if not all of us, are not suggesting pumping before inspection. Why do you insist and persist in saying this. Every single septic tech that I've ever observed, inspects the the tank prior to pumping and then finishes the inspection after pumping. If you think you can do a complete tank inspection without pumping, then I suggest to you that you have been and continue to do your clients a huge disservice.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Terry,

    That's why I said to think about your reply before replying - you are incorrect.

    In order to pump tank out, one must FIRST remove the cover ... at that time all the things you are referring to are present and visible ... THEN the tank is pumped up. .. at which time the true condition of the tank is visible.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  35. #35
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    May 2010
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    No. San Diego Co., CA
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Aside from the serviceability of the septic system, whatever is in the tank belongs to the seller and should, IMO, be removed. Unless, the buyer is happy to pay for and own the seller's crap and waste water. It's really no different than having garbage removed from the property.


  36. #36
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Aside from the serviceability of the septic system, whatever is in the tank belongs to the seller and should, IMO, be removed. Unless, the buyer is happy to pay for and own the seller's crap and waste water. It's really no different than having garbage removed from the property.
    Ian,

    I hadn't thought of it that way ... well put ... (I was just thinking about the inspection aspect).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  37. #37

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ian,

    I hadn't thought of it that way ... well put ... (I was just thinking about the inspection aspect).
    I was really hoping for some good interaction. Unfortunately, this site is inhabited by a bunch of clueless knuckle heads.

    Adios


  38. #38
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    Feb 2008
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    Caledon, Ontario
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    In fairness to Terry, he is right when he says that the tank should not be pumped upon removal of access lids. This is the time when the toilets should be flushed in order to ascertain in flow and out flow levels, you cannot tell that when the tank is pumped first thing before doing this aspect of the test..

    Pennsylvania Septic Management Assoc.
    Watch the video
    Pennsylvania Septage Management Association


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry VanderMeersch View Post
    I was really hoping for some good interaction. Unfortunately, this site is inhabited by a bunch of clueless knuckle heads.

    Adios
    Another drive-by poster who can't take the heat or the light.

    There's no doubt that this site isn't for the thin skinned, but then I haven't reviewed any similar sites that don't have A-type personalities flinging barbed comments at one another.

    But the amusing thing here, is that we were quite civil with Terry.

    Adios Terry

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  40. #40
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    I make it known up front when scheduling an inspection that I do not inspect septic systems nor do I offer scheduling of a septic inspection. I will pass along names and phone numbers of septic companies but that is it for me.

    Whenever possible, I advise the buyer to try and get the septic system inspected before I do my inspection as they are also often scheduling a radon test and termite inspection with me. So if the septic system fails the inspection (and around here, many do), they can hold cancel the inspections with me to save some money if a failed septic system is going to be a deal breaker for them. Some buyers have the time to get the septic inspected first but many do not. At the very least, I've made an effort to help them save some money and everybody appreciates the recommendation.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    I had a nice home yesterday with 6 bedroom & 6 bathrooms on septic with a free flowing natural spring for the homes water source! I recommend all types of folks!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I had a nice home yesterday with 6 bedroom & 6 bathrooms on septic with a free flowing natural spring for the homes water source! I recommend all types of folks!

    - - - Updated - - -
    When I worked on the ag research station in Belize, our water came from a spring located a quarter mile up the hill above the station. I took a stroll up there one day to find that cattle had broken through the fence and were standing in the spring. I always smile a little when folks talk about drinking from springs, because as everyone knows, animals never walk, poop, or die in springs.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  43. #43
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    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    When I worked on the ag research station in Belize, our water came from a spring located a quarter mile up the hill above the station. I took a stroll up there one day to find that cattle had broken through the fence and were standing in the spring. I always smile a little when folks talk about drinking from springs, because as everyone knows, animals never walk, poop, or die in springs.
    Yeras ago I read/heard about some research and testing done comparing various municipal water qualities with various natural spring fed bottled water.

    The results showed just what you said - all ... yes, all ... the various natural spring fed bottled water samples showed high amounts of fecal matter and other related contaminants ... some even real high amounts.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  44. #44
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    Mar 2007
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    Vancouver - Canada
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    221

    Default Re: Septic tank on an six year old home...

    I saw a similar study on 60 minutes many years ago that showed some pretty scary stuff going on at some bottled water distributors. Then after all the various taste tests, New York city water always won by a long shot.

    Joe Klampfer RHI
    www.myinspection.ca
    Pacific Home Inspections

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