Avoid the Shouting: Don't Make an Indoor Mess with Septic Dye Powder
Septic System Loading and Dye Tests often requested by certain lenders, involve flushing a special dye down a toilet or
other drain combined with a known quantity of water sufficient to put a working load on the absorption system.
If waste water leaks to the ground surface (an unsanitary condition indicating serious septic failure) one may find dye
in that water provided the septic system is flowing at common rates.
Tips for Avoiding an Indoor Septic Dye Test Catastrophe
Watch out: Overflowing green or red septic dye into a building can create a horrible mess that is difficult to clean up. Above we already warned to be sure that the toilet flushes without overflowing before placing any septic dye into the fixture.
The mess you see on the outside of the Pylam Fluorescent Green septic dye container (left) is evidence of how difficult it is to handle septic dye powder without making a mess.
But because of inadequacies of using the neater dye tablets, many inspectors still prefer to use septic dye powder.
Be careful placing septic dye powder into the toilet - do it gently and with nearby windows closed and fans off.
Septic dye powder is so very fine that it is easy to accidentally get septic dye powder dust on other building surfaces.
If you do find that septic dye powder has spilled onto the toilet rim it is usually easy to wipe it off with a wad of damp toilet tissue.
If you find that dye powder has spilled onto a non-glazed tile floor you might need a dilute bleach solution to complete the cleanup. If you spilled septic dye onto a towel or drywall, good luck!
Wrapping Septic Dye into Packets to Avoid a Mess
Home inspector Arlene Puentes, agreeing that septic dye tablets can be ineffective (or you need too many) for a septic loading and dye test, uses septic dye powder. But to avoid spilling powder in the building, Puentes pre-wraps each dose of septic dye powder in a water soluble packet.
To wrap septic dye powder Puentes recommends Super Solvy™, a water soluble stabilizer used in sewing. SuperSolvy™ is a water-soluble synthetic plastic-like material used in quilting and embroidery or for other sewing applications to stiffen the fabric. It will dissolve in water. The manufacturer assures that the product is non toxic, and will dissolve in cool water in five to ten minutes.
As our photographs show, we tested Super Solvy™ in the InspectAPedia.com forensic laboratory, confirming that in less than 60 seconds the plastic-like material had dissolved, leaving an opaque goop in our 8 ounces of tap water. - Thanks to Arlene Puentes for providing our test sample.
Watch the Toilet for Overflow during A dye Test
Watch out: We flush the toilet once BEFORE starting any septic loading & dye test, to be sure that the toilet where we are putting our dye is one that is not going to overflow.
But just in case you need to know how to immediately STOP a toilet bowl fill-up that is about to overflow,
see TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY.
Inspect Indoors After Starting the Septic Dye Test
Watch out: remember to inspect indoors at the plumbing fixture where septic dye was flushed, at the plumbing fixture where septic dye test water is being run (to assure no backup, overflow, or indoor flood), and also in rooms below that plumbing fixture, all the way to the building basement or crawl space.
If you fail to make an indoor inspection while running the septic loading and dye test you risk overflowing from a plumbing fixture or from a leaky drain pipe that damages the building.
The presence of septic dye in the test water may even make it easier to spot an indoor plumbing drain pipe leak, as our photo (left) demonstrated.
These pages are part of our SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE for testing septic system function.
Technical review by industry experts has been performed and is ongoing - reviewers are listed at REFERENCES. Comments and suggestions for content are welcome.
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Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Inspection Education Home Study Courses - ASHI@Home Training 10-course program. Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference Book, a reference & inspection report product for building owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones.
Arlene Puentes, an ASHI member and a licensed home inspector in Kingston, NY, and has served on ASHI national committees as well as HVASHI Chapter President. Ms. Puentes can be contacted at email@example.com
Ultra Solvy™, SuperSolvy™ (instructions for using SuperSolvy), or Sulky®Solvy™, Sulky of America, 3113 Broadpoint Drive, Harbor Heights, FL 33983 - Web Search 06/15-2010 original source: http://www.sulky.com/stabilizers/solvy.php -Sulky of America only sells direct to Distributors. This product can be purchased at these retail outlets
Speed Stitch, Inc.
Uncommon Thread, Inc.
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf.
Pennsylvania State Fact Sheets relating to domestic wastewater treatment systems include
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-161, Septic System Failure: Diagnosis and Treatment
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-162, The Soil Media and the Percolation Test
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-l64, Mound Systems for Wastewater Treatment
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-165, Septic Tank-Soil Absorption Systems
Document Sources used for this web page include but are not limited to: Agricultural Fact Sheet #SW-161 "Septic Tank Pumping," by Paul D. Robillard and
Kelli S. Martin. Penn State College of Agriculture - Cooperative Extension, edited and annotated by
Dan Friedman (Thanks: to Bob Mackey for proofreading the original source material.)
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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