How to perform a septic system inspection

How to perform a septic system inspection

How to perform a septic system inspection

How to Perform a Septic System Inspection

Septic systems are an integral part of any home, especially those located in rural areas where municipal sewer systems are not available. They handle all the wastewater from your home, including the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry drains. Therefore, regular inspections and maintenance of your septic system are crucial to ensure its longevity and prevent costly repairs. This article will guide you through the process of performing a septic system inspection.

Understanding the Septic System

Before diving into the inspection process, it’s essential to understand the basic components of a septic system. A typical system consists of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a drainfield.

  • Septic Tank: This is where all the wastewater from your home goes. The tank is designed to allow waste to separate, with solids sinking to the bottom (forming sludge) and lighter materials, like oils and grease, floating to the top (forming scum).
  • Distribution Box: This component distributes the wastewater evenly into the drainfield.
  • Drainfield: Also known as a leach field, this is where the wastewater is treated by the soil. The soil acts as a natural filter, removing harmful bacteria and viruses before the water reaches the groundwater.

When to Inspect Your Septic System

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homeowners should inspect their septic system at least every three years. However, systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be checked annually. It’s also advisable to have your system inspected if you notice any signs of system failure, such as sewage backup in your drains, lush green grass over the drainfield, or unpleasant odors around your property.

Steps to Perform a Septic System Inspection

1. Locate Your Septic System

The first step in inspecting your septic system is to locate it. If you’re not sure where it is, you can refer to the home inspection report you received when you bought your property or contact your local health department for a copy of your septic system permit, which should include a diagram of your system’s location.

2. Inspect the Septic Tank

Start by checking the condition of the tank. Look for any signs of leaks, such as wet areas around the tank. Also, check the tank’s level. If it’s too high, it could indicate a problem with the outlet pipe or drainfield. If it’s too low, there might be a leak in the tank.

3. Check the Drainfield

Walk over the drainfield and look for any signs of system failure. These could include standing water, lush green grass, or unpleasant odors. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to call a professional for further inspection.

4. Test the System

One way to test your septic system’s functionality is by conducting a dye test. This involves flushing a special dye down a toilet or sink and then checking the drainfield for signs of the dye. If the dye appears on the surface of the drainfield, it indicates that the system is not functioning properly.

Professional Septic System Inspection

While homeowners can perform basic septic system inspections, it’s always best to hire a professional for a thorough inspection. Professionals have the necessary training and equipment to accurately assess the condition of your system and identify any potential issues. They can also provide valuable advice on how to maintain your system and prevent future problems.


Regular septic system inspections are crucial to ensure the system’s longevity and prevent costly repairs. While homeowners can perform basic inspections, it’s always best to hire a professional for a thorough assessment. By understanding the basic components of your septic system and knowing when and how to inspect it, you can help keep your system functioning properly and protect your property from potential damage.


Beaumont Septic, How to perform a septic system inspection, Septic System Services

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