What is a Septic System?

A septic system is usually a gravity flow system designed to safely dispose of domestic waste and effluent.  Configurations of these systems depend on factors such as terrain, soil percolation rate, size of lot, etc.  Tanks have been constructed of many materials.  Concrete is generally considered the best.  Effluent from the tank may flow into a distribution box then equally into lateral lines (long perforated pipes).  It will then disperse into the gravel and soil.  This area is the disposal bed.  Smaller lots may require a seepage pit (large perforated tank filled with gravel) instead of lateral lines.

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How Do You Test a Septic System?

Open Pit testing is the preferred method of diagnosing a septic system. Dye traces alone are ineffective and do not reveal many present problems or failures. Open pit testing includes: locating and hand digging up the tanks' lid; assessing the function of the inlet and outlet baffles; assessing the levels and separation of the scum, effluent and solids; utilizing cameras to determine proper function, proper installation or if there are blockages; probing the septic field or disposal area; running water into system as needed, etc.

A visual exam is also performed. Some signs of aging or saturation to consider may include lush vegetation; excessive surface moisture; barren areas; pumping that exceeds tanks' capacity; sewage bleedout (odor), etc.

Confirm with the seller the exact location and age of the system. Ask seller when it was last pumped, the recent pumping intervals (receipts would be nice) and for permission to hand dig up the lid. Inform us if the septic system has not been used for seven days or more prior to the inspection. Please keep in mind some septic systems exceed $20,000 so the more information you can provide us, the better we can serve you. Septic insurance is available, affordable and recommended. Call us today and Polo & Associates will discount your septic inspection (when included with a full home inspection) and also arrange for your septic inspection to coincide with the home inspection! 

Section View of Septic Tank

 

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Polo & Associates Home Inspections, LLC
1656 Littleton Rd
Morris Plains, NJ

Phone: (973) 539-0715
Fax: (973) 326-1551

Email: davidpolo@verizon.net

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors New Jersey Association of Licensed Professional Home InspectorsWDO Inspector