Choose an inspector wisely - the best thing you can do to ensure you are getting a qualified professional to inspect your system is to check their credentials; have they kept up with their education requirements? Are they in the septic business (this does make a difference).
There is a difference between a visual inspection which a home inspector may perform and a full inspection performed by a qualified septic professional. A visual inspection is a very limited inspection; it consists of running water in the house and flushing toilets. As long as there is no backup in the plumbing and no water surfacing over the absorption area, one will assume the system is function properly. This does not mean everything is functioning as it should, it just means the toilets flush. This is very limited and risky for the buyer because you don't know what you can't see. Examples of system problems that the inspector would have never known if only a visual inspection were performed:
Leaking Tank - Overfull Tank - Tank Corroding - Roots in the tank or lines - Backflow from the leach field - Location of system (in the driveway, in a pasture, under a deck, concrete patio, room addition, in a garage, etc.) - If baffles are in place - if the diving wall is secure - Sludge Thickness - Size of Tank - Damage to system because of driving on it, livestock or when it was being covered up after installation - Garage or Room Additions to the home and the septic wasn't upgraded or located and was built upon.
And we will let you know if we find some other items like tin cans with both ends removed that were lined up in a ditch for a sewer line, 55 gallon drums for a tank or perhaps there is an old car or a old wood stove in the ground. If it has an rotten boards over the top of it or an old satellite dish as a cover. If it is a system that requires a lift pump the electrical wiring probably should not be in the water. Yes, unfortunately, all of the above has been found and much more.
It is your job as the buyer to ensure the system is operable and adequate before you buy a home. Don't take the seller's word that it was "just pumped out" or assume because it is a newer custom home that everything is working properly. When we pump out a tank a quick visual inspection is done and any concerns are noted on the receipt and customer is informed. This does not mean they did anything to fix it. Even if it was our company who "just pumped the tank", we cannot disclose anything about the system to the buyer without a real estate inspection.
What occurs during a Full Inspection? We check with the county were the home is located for permits and the type of system that was installed, we ask for current number of bedrooms, bathrooms, mother-in-law apartments, etc. We camera lines between the house and the tank and from the tank out to the leach field. We pump the tank out, access the tank and lids integrity, examine the baffles, tees, compartment wall. We look for current or past signs of system failure. We also note items for you of concern that doesn't make a system fail but would be beneficial to know.
After you purchase the property you need to know where it is located in case of a system backup. This is very important in our area during winter months when the tank is not visable.
It is better to be safe than sorry. The life expectancy of a septic system is not forever. It is risky to skip a septic inspection, it may cost several hundred dollars, but it could be the difference in spending many thousands of dollars once you are the property owner.
Prospective Home Buyers Need to Know What They Are Buying.
All NAWT Certified Inspectors are trained the same. To inspect the system as designed when it was installed. If the system is working it does not need to be brought up to current regulations.
Brown's Septic Service, Inc.
PO Box 220
Del Norte CO 81132
Are you willing to purchase a home with a leaking roof or a heating system that could fail at any time? Often careful buyers overlook an additional critical system in the house that could cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace...the septic system.
Serving Our Neighbors For Over 20 Years
TRUE STORY - Septic system caving in - A elderly customer had set up an appointment for a maintenance pumping of her septic tank . The customer showed Leonard Brown where the tank was located, while walking back to the truck the ground gave away and down he went into the ground and sewage.
While he was able to get out, he was also thankful that the elderly lady who lived alone wasn't the one who it caved in on. This could have been a child, family pet, horse etc.