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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSTALL REPAIR
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Septic test dye breakout locations: this article describes where you will be most likely to find septic dye outside when conducting a septic loading and dye test - if the system is failing, here's where you're likely to see the dyed effluent appearing.
A visual inspection of these locations before and after a septic dye test is performed can give key information about the condition of the septic system. You should look everywhere on and around a site being tested but here are the most-likely locations of dyed effluent or un-dyed effluent appearance at a property with a failing septic system.
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How to Spot Septic Dye Test Breakouts: Where Will You Most Probably Find Dyed Septic Effluent Outside
A septic effluent "breakout" is the visible movement of septic effluent to the surface of a property. Effluent may appear as an area of wet soil or as an actual puddle of liquid on the ground surface.
It may also appear as dyed effluent flowing into a stream, lake, or other waterway. Septic effluent appearing on the surface of a property or in nearby ponds or streams, is incontrovertible evidence of a failure in the septic system.
Breakouts of septic effluent may occur during normal system usage when the absorption bed has failed, when the system has been overloaded, or during a septic loading and dye test.
As our photo (left) illustrates with green septic dye, don't assume that because a septic tank is new, or has been "repaired" or "serviced" that the system is functional.
This one was totally blocked, sending the test water and dye to the surface right at the septic tank.
Septic dye may appear in the septic tank right at the tank inlet, as shown in our photo (left). Here the dye was concentrated, largely because it was having trouble pushing its way into the septic tank.
Steve Vermilye, a New York home inspector, was watching a dye test such as shown at left and observed his dye disappearing as it entered the septic tank - someone had "primed" the tank with bleach, hoping to avoid discovery of a failed drainfield or perhaps over-shocking a well in hope of avoiding a failed well water bacteria test. (CHEATING ON WATER TESTS)
Dyed Septic effluent breaking to the surface may be pale red or green depending on the dye color used. Whether a septic loading and dye test is performed with or without tracer dye, effluent may appear under various circumstances.
For example, if the septic system has been pre-loaded with bleach, septic dye may not appear in the effluent. This occurs if someone has shocked the well or perhaps attempted to sabotage a septic test. It would also occur if the inspector attempted to use septic dye on a septic treatment system which injects chlorine into discharged effluent.
Before a system is tested using a loading and dye procedure, the inspector should attempt to determine the type of septic system installed. In very dilute conditions septic dye can also be detected using a "black light" (UV) if you inspect in dark or low light conditions and use a portable light source. (I have never seen anyone take this step.
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At below left the photo shows red septic dye appearing in a worn area of a grassy yard. More dramatic red dye appearance was shown in the basement walkout septic dye photo at the top of this page.
If there is snow cover, (above right) walk a test grid pattern around the inspection area, scuffing to the ground surface. If there is dyed effluent breakout your scuffing in the snow will kick up green or red snow from the underside of the snow layer.
Non-dyed effluent may also appear during a septic loading and dye test so be alert for any increase in the size of previously-found wet areas or for the production of new wet areas or puddles or odors.
Non-dyed septic effluent may appear due to dilution, to the presence of bleach in the system, or by extended soil filtration combined with dilution of pre-existing water in the leaching area.
Watch Out: Any probing of wet or suspect areas should be performed carefully to avoid any charge of damaging piping. Probing can be useful in a suspect area, but since the exact location, depth, design of buried components is unknown, this is not a reliable comprehensive inspection method.
Avoid using heavy steel wrecking bars or similar probing tools which can damage septic tank top or other components.
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