Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Septic Dyes?

  1. #1
    Jonathan Clevenger's Avatar
    Jonathan Clevenger Guest

    Default Septic Dyes?

    I was looking at Gas detectors | Thermal Imaging Cameras at the different septic test dyes that they sell, and I''m wondering what people tend to use and why.

    They sell Red and Yellow in powder form, and they sell red in liquid form.

    Thanks!

    Similar Threads:
    OREP Home Inspector E&O Insurance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Clevenger View Post
    I was looking at Gas detectors | Thermal Imaging Cameras at the different septic test dyes that they sell, and I''m wondering what people tend to use and why.

    They sell Red and Yellow in powder form, and they sell red in liquid form.

    Thanks!
    Can't really tell you why a home inspector would want to use them. When I was new to the profession back in the early 1990's I use to drop dye tablets in toilets with homes that had septic tanks. I really had no idea why or what I was doing (I do now), but I was told it was the thing to do. The idea the way I understood was that you would see dye after a while on the surface of the ground and it would show if you had broken lines in the septic field.
    What made me stop was when I turned a neighborhood pond fluorescent green! It even made the local news that night, they never found the reason for the mysterious green tent and blamed it on local kids.

    Anyway, I say all of this because the only way to properly inspect a septic tank is to pull the top, pump the tank and inspect the inside. To my knowledge we have only a handful of inspectors across the country who can do this and own a honey pumper. Anything less than this when inspecting a septic tank is like selling snake oil.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Succasunna NJ
    Posts
    573

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Scott,

    Tell us more about the green Pond!!!



    Darren

    Last edited by Darren Miller; 02-24-2008 at 09:31 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Miller View Post
    Scott,

    Tell us more about the green Pond!!!

    Darren
    Well, it was more like a little 2 acre lake. I had no idea that the home had a treatment plant and it was discharging into the lake. I was in a hurry so I thought that if I used a few dozen tablets it would work quicker. If you read the side of the tablet bottle one tablet is good for 350 gallons.

    The more I think about it, my screw-up is a real good example of what experience means in our profession. I look back at my first thousand inspections and I wonder why or how I'm still in business. Every inspection is a learning experience, but you have to realize it enough that you take advantage of it!

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 02-24-2008 at 10:27 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
    Robert Stephens's Avatar
    Robert Stephens Guest

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Having been in the excavation business a better part of my life, Scott I have to disagree with your thinking on septic testing. Testing a septic system involves alot more than the septic tank...which hardly or never fail. Your main concern on a septic test are the lines and most importantly the leach field...NOTE... the only way to test a septic system is with dye...opening a tank and pumping will tell you nothing...after pumping you still need to perform a dye test. Its the only way you can detect failure of the system.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,280

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Stephens View Post
    .NOTE... the only way to test a septic system is with dye...opening a tank and pumping will tell you nothing...

    That's the first time I've ever heard that statement. I believe most septic companies would disagree.


  7. #7
    Joseph P. Hagarty's Avatar
    Joseph P. Hagarty Guest

  8. #8
    Robert Stephens's Avatar
    Robert Stephens Guest

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    The first thing we have to realize...all septic systems fail and septic companies are in the business of installing septic systems. Some companies use digital tv cameras along with dye testing.


  9. #9
    Robert Stephens's Avatar
    Robert Stephens Guest

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Septic Dye Test Protocol ny has been relying on dye test for over 30yrs. and still do. However in NY you have the health department come out and do the inspections...it is the most cost effective test to the consumer.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Stephens View Post
    Having been in the excavation business a better part of my life, Scott I have to disagree with your thinking on septic testing. Testing a septic system involves alot more than the septic tank...which hardly or never fail. Your main concern on a septic test are the lines and most importantly the leach field...NOTE... the only way to test a septic system is with dye...opening a tank and pumping will tell you nothing...after pumping you still need to perform a dye test. Its the only way you can detect failure of the system.
    Robert, I have to disagree. Dye testing tells you nothing about the condition of the tank, and the tanks do fail. I have seen many cracked tanks, broken baffles, etc., in tanks. Not to mention tanks full of sludge.

    Actually the condition of the interior of the tank can give you some insight as to the condition of the lines in the leach field.

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

  11. #11
    Robert Stephens's Avatar
    Robert Stephens Guest

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Robert, I have to disagree. Dye testing tells you nothing about the condition of the tank, and the tanks do fail. I have seen many cracked tanks, broken baffles, etc., in tanks. Not to mention tanks full of sludge.

    Actually the condition of the interior of the tank can give you some insight as to the condition of the lines in the leach field.
    I have installed well over 100 septic systems over the years and can count on 1 hand the number of tanks that had to replaced...now I will agree if the tank is full of hard sludge you may have problems. But from my experience the problems start from the distribution box or complete leech field failure. Having lived in NY prior to moving to SC...NY has been dye testing well over 30 yrs. ( Health Department) and strict guide lines (DEC).


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    25,309

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Stephens View Post
    Having been in the excavation business a better part of my life, Scott I have to disagree with your thinking on septic testing. Testing a septic system involves alot more than the septic tank...which hardly or never fail. Your main concern on a septic test are the lines and most importantly the leach field...
    Robert,

    First, let's clarify some thinking and some terms here:

    1) "septic tank"

    2) "leach field" or "drain field"

    3) "septic SYSTEM"

    3) "septic SYSTEM" includes both 1) and 2).

    Thus, let's start with 1) "septic tank":

    Scott, is talking about the "septic tank", and, as Scott said, and as EVERY septic contractor has told me and thousands of others, THE ONLY WAY to inspect a TANK is to remove the cover and pump it out. ONLY THEN can you "inspect it".

    Next, let's go to 2) Dye testing tells you nothing about the condition of the tank:

    The ONLY WAY to inspect it is to remove the cover to the distribution box and see if water is holding in the box above the drain field connections to the distribution box and if the drain field piping is holding water. Those condition indicate that the "leach field" or "drain field" is not percolating the water down into the soil sufficiently.

    [qutoe]NOTE... the only way to test a septic system is with dye...opening a tank and pumping will tell you nothing...after pumping you still need to perform a dye test. Its the only way you can detect failure of the system.[/quote]

    Dye testing tells you nothing you have not seen in 1) and 2) ... well, okay, unless the drain field pipes are also draining into a pond and the pond turns color with the dye ...

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

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Can't really tell you why a home inspector would want to use them.
    I have found dye useful in confirming waste water finding its way into ground water sumps.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  14. #14
    Kathy Thompson's Avatar
    Kathy Thompson Guest

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Jonathan,
    I have found tracer dye to be helpfull in checking septic systems but it is only one conponent of the inspection.
    On one occassion the dye surfaced in the sump pit. The repair company found the pipe had cracked at the exterior wall of the fountation and was entering the drainage tile. I would not have found this without the dye test.
    On more than one occassion the dye surfaced in the yard or front ditch.
    Once the system is pumped the dye test is useless until the stank fills back up. It is also useless if the house has been vacant for an extended period of time. I then include a comment that problems with the system may not become apparent until daily use is continued.
    I use the liquid but have used both and think its just a personal preferance.

    Jim Thompson
    HomeFront Inspection Services


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    25,309

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph P. Hagarty View Post
    Joe,

    This statement in that link pretty much says it all:

    "Clearly, you do not want to be forced to answer this question: "Why did you select a dye test when you knew a more accurate testing tool was available?" "

    The typical setting in which that particular question would be asked also tells a lot about the seriousness of that question, as it would typically be asked in a ... courtroom.

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

  16. #16
    Robert Stephens's Avatar
    Robert Stephens Guest

    Default Re: Septic Dyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Robert,

    First, let's clarify some thinking and some terms here:

    1) "septic tank"

    2) "leach field" or "drain field"

    3) "septic SYSTEM"

    3) "septic SYSTEM" includes both 1) and 2).

    Thus, let's start with 1) "septic tank":

    Scott, is talking about the "septic tank", and, as Scott said, and as EVERY septic contractor has told me and thousands of others, THE ONLY WAY to inspect a TANK is to remove the cover and pump it out. ONLY THEN can you "inspect it".

    Next, let's go to 2) Dye testing tells you nothing about the condition of the tank:

    The ONLY WAY to inspect it is to remove the cover to the distribution box and see if water is holding in the box above the drain field connections to the distribution box and if the drain field piping is holding water. Those condition indicate that the "leach field" or "drain field" is not percolating the water down into the soil sufficiently.

    [qutoe]NOTE... the only way to test a septic system is with dye...opening a tank and pumping will tell you nothing...after pumping you still need to perform a dye test. Its the only way you can detect failure of the system.
    Dye testing tells you nothing you have not seen in 1) and 2) ... well, okay, unless the drain field pipes are also draining into a pond and the pond turns color with the dye ... [/quote]


    Jerry I can see me now...digging up the guys yard...and then lets try and get the cover off...or do they just go through the clean out


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    Posts
    1,072

    Exclamation Re: Septic Dyes?

    Jerry is on the right track.
    I suggest you take a class in Sub Surface Wastewater System Operator before attempting to do septic inspections. There is allot of things you need to know before you come to a conclusion.
    Our state is requiring license for septic inspections and I have taken courses in operator and maintenance and inspector classes. It's overwhelming to say the least.
    To make things simple I'll give a little advice on your typical gravity system as was taught to me from NCSU soil science class. Remember your area may vary.
    First get all the information and history of the system from the health dept. You need to know the layout of the field it's design load etc. Walk the field and area of the tank. Check the field to make sure rain water doesn't pond. Check for break outs, vegetation, drove on, structures, etc.
    Once you located the field find the Distribute box and check it for abnormalities, cracks, roots etc. probe the nitrification lines for water saturation, Now be careful because you need to know what type of lateral lines they are and you don't damage them. If its a pressure line (Lpp) don't probe. If their is water standing in the probed hole it's a red flag. Now you need to use common sense if it just rained a few days in a row and the systems has been dosed allot you will need to wait and see if it dissipates in a reasonable amount of time.

    Check around the tank for settlement broken lids, leakage around the risers etc. The level of waste should be at the outlet "t" bottom. If below the outlet it's a red flag if the home is lived in. If above the bottom then that's a red flag and possible line problems. Check the baffle wall with a mirror for damage. Check the outlet "t' for damage. Check the filter (1999 and newer). Do not pull the filter if the effluent is above the outlet "t". You'll send waste solids into the field. Have it pumped below first.
    Now if everything is looking OK take waste measurements. measure the solids on the bottom and the Fogs on the top (fats, oils, grease). and the height of the water level. Add the solids and the fogs and subtract from the waste water height. This will give you the effluent level in the middle. If it is less then 30% of volume then it should be pumped. So that being said It is not required here to have the tank pumped to determine it's condition unless other red flags justify it. Because of the cost involved the potential buyer may not want it pumped but you better note it and get there signature saying so.
    Me I want it pumped every time to cover my but. But you need do the above so you know what is happening with the system before you pump.

    Now there is another way to check the nitrification field and that is to do a Hydraulic Load Test (HLT). Pumpers around here like to do them but the teachers don't recommend it because you are dosing the field all at once and the system was designed on a 24 hr. basis. But the system should be designed for worst case scenario's.

    Here it's 60 gallons per person or 120 gallons per bedroom. You take a five gallon bucket and fill it from the homes hose bib. Time how long it takes to fill. Lets say it's a 3 bedroom house at 360 gallons. It takes 30 seconds per gallon to fill the bucket. That should be 54 minutes to load the field to it's design. You place your hose (not there's) in the outlet pipe and load it for the time period and under normal weather conditions for your area the field should accept it. I have seen it done with no break outs.

    Also around here after 1982 you have to have a designated repair field. Make sure structures where not built on it, and it is accessible.

    There is so many systems out there and allot are Proprietary systems and you need there permission to inspect (and most won't let you but are willing to train you) and typically someone from there department there, or the OM service person.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •