Septic Tank Inspections
To prevent problems, have your septic system inspected every one to two years by a licensed septic tank contractor and follow his or her advice about how often to clean out the tank. Alternative septic systems that have mechanical parts such as a pump should be inspected at least once a year or more frequently as recommended by the manufacturer.
A septic tank contractor will:
- Locate your septic system and uncover access holes
- Open the inspection port to check that internal slabs or tees (baffles) are in good condition
- If your system has an effluent filter, check it to see if it needs to be cleaned. (Some filters are equipped with alarm systems to alert the homeowner when the filter needs to be cleaned.)
- Flush your toilets
- Check for signs of sewage or wastewater backup
- Measure scum and sludge layers
- Identify any leaks
- Inspect mechanical parts if there are any
- Recommend tank cleaning (pumping) if needed
- Check the ground over the drainfield for sogginess or ponding, which could indicate improper drainage, a clogged system, excessive water use. The contractor may recommend a drainfield inspection, a separate process.
For a more detailed explanation of the inspection process, read Septic Tank Inspection - What Should I Expect When I Have My Tank Inspected? (pdf) and Drainfield Inspection —Does My Drainfield Ever Need To Be Inspected? (pdf), both from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC).