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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
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 & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE LEVELS in SEPTIC TANKS
SEWAGE NITROGEN CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This septic system inspection article describes detailed "how to" steps instructing the septic inspection investigator in how to inspect specific septic components for signs of failure. We describe the criteria for saying a septic system has failed, and we take you step by step through the onsite waste disposal system, from the building to tank to absorption system, with suggestions for examining the condition of each component so that a proper diagnosis of the cause of septic failure and a specification of the appropriate repair can be made.
In the photo at the top of this page, a wet spot appeared in the previously "perfect" yard of this older home within twenty-four hours of the new family moving-in. The buyers had obtained a "septic inspection" but it was improperly performed and missed the chance to discover before purchase that the septic system was in total failure.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Before digging up your septic tank or calling a septic pumper, if you think the septic system is failed because of drain blockage or drains backing up into the building, you should to see Diagnosing Clogged Drains: Is it a blocked drain or the septic system? - A First Step for Homeowners. If you link to that text, please return here using your browser's "BACK" button.
Onsite Waste Disposal System Failure Criteria
The same failures can occur on the effluent distribution pipe line from the septic tank outlet in to the distribution box as we described earlier on piping from house to the septic tank. Pipes can settle (especially in new construction), break, become blocked or clogged, or become invaded and blocked by tree roots or soils.
How to Determine Where a Septic Blockage Is Located
How would we distinguish among blockages at different points in these distribution lines?
In a conventional "drain field" of perforated pipes buried in gravel-filled trenches, a drain line may be invaded by tree roots. This is why experts advise keeping tree and shrub plantings away from drain fields.
Vehicle traffic can also collapse this or any outdoor waste piping, which is why experts advise against ever driving over a drainfield or over any other septic system components. See DRIVING or PARKING OVER SEPTIC
Drainfield piping is usually constructed of perforated pipe buried in gravel-filled trenches. It receives effluent from the D-box and allows it to percolate or seep into the soil around the trench where added filtering and bacterial treatment occur.
Like the distribution piping discussed above, individual drainfield pipes can become crushed, shifted, or clogged by tree roots or other debris. More general clogging and failures of the leach field are discussed below. A broken or clogged pipe, once it has been located, may be much less costly to repair than a complete leach field replacement, so this possibility needs to be considered during diagnosis of a "failed" septic system.
Lockwood, in "An Engineer's View of Septic Systems" listed these causes of absorption field failure:
" If the liquid effluent cannot soak into the soil surrounding the leach field, sewage may back up into the system and overflow into the house or puddle on the surface of the ground. There are several possible causes for this problem."
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions & answers or comments about preliminary septic system inspections for signs of system failure - simple visual checks
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books