Septic 101: A Guide For Homeowners

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How Often Should You Plan A Septic System Inspection?

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Like many functional parts of a house, your septic system requires periodic inspection and maintenance. You're probably already familiar with the need to pump your septic tank every few years. Still, inspections are another crucial aspect of keeping your wastewater system healthy and ensuring it lasts for as long as possible.

Why Inspect Your Septic Tank?

Most homes with septic systems use concrete tanks, but fiberglass and plastic tanks are also relatively common. Although concrete tanks tend to last the longest, all of these materials can develop problems over time. Your tank may be especially susceptible to issues if you live in an area with frequent flooding or if you routinely wait too long to pump your tank.

Tank inspections are usually the best way to detect issues with your system. During an inspection, your septic technician will use several techniques to check for proper flow into the tank as well as correct drainage. They'll also measure the tank's sludge, water, and grease levels, as well as the amount of waste that re-enters the tank from the drainfield after pumping.

Ultimately, these tests can tell your inspector several things:

  • Is there a leak between your home and the septic tank?
  • Are you waiting too long before pumping your tank?
  • Is there evidence of a problem with the drainfield?
  • Is there evidence that your tank may be leaking?

Although an inspection alone may not provide conclusive information, it does help point to potential trouble spots. If the inspector believes there may be an issue, you can investigate the problem further to determine the best course of action.

When Should You Schedule Your Inspections?

If your goal is to keep your septic system working smoothly for as long as possible, then you should schedule inspections every time you pump your tank. Since a thorough inspection requires pumping the tank anyway, this is an ideal time to check the system for issues. The EPA recommends inspecting your tank about every three years.

Remember that septic system inspections can also help you to time your pumping schedule. Since the inspector will measure waste levels in your tank, then you can tell if you're pumping too infrequently. Waiting too long to pump your tank can lead to many problems that can reduce your system's lifespan, so you can use this information to adjust your pumping schedule accordingly.

The best way to keep your septic system well-maintained is with regular upkeep and maintenance. Septic inspections are a crucial part of any comprehensive maintenance plan, so you should be sure to schedule one at least every 3-5 years to avoid running into significant trouble in the future.