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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 system inspection field data worksheets & checklists, part 1: here are three detailed septic system field inspection and test worksheets to assist in inspecting and documenting the condition of septic systems. These septic inspection field worksheets are useful for recording information during the conduct of septic system inspections for investigations of the condition of a septic system using level 0, 1, and 2 septic inspections.
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This article is part of our series: Septic Systems Online Book procedures, defects in onsite waste disposal systems, septic tank problems, septic drainfield problems, checklists of system components and things to ask. Septic system maintenance and pumping schedules.
Worksheet for Septic Inspection Level 0 - Basic Information
A surprising amount of useful diagnostic information about the condition of a septic tank and drainfield can be developed by a thoughtful visual inspection of the property even before any steps to test the septic system have begun. The two photos above show a case in which an old home-made septic tank was located just a few feet from a public lake.
You can see our septic test water pouring into the septic tank in the upper right part of the right hand photo. The jumble of stones visible just inside the septic "tank" indicate that this is a home-made system, perhaps simply a cesspool. With the nearby stream and lake just a few feet away, this system is unlikely to be acceptable by modern standards of sanitation and building code. Below we've printed our field data collection worksheets used for septic system inspection.
INSPECTION DATE:_____________________________________________________________ INSPECTION ADDRESS:__________________________________________________________ INSPECTOR's NAME:____________________________________________________________ CLIENT's NAME:_______________________________________________________________ The system was NOT INSPECTED because: _______________________________________ UNSAFE CONDITIONS OBSERVED, PEOPLE NOTIFIED: ________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ BASIC SEPTIC SYSTEM INFORMATION System Age: _______________________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other Recent Nr. Occupants: _____________ Year Round: Y/N Nr. Bedrooms:________ Currently Occupied: Y/N Vacant since:______________ Tank Last Pumped:__________________ Garbage Disposal: Y/N Separate Drywell/Drain for Washer/Other:________________ Calculated or other Specific Flow or Load:___________________________________ TREATMENT TANK INFORMATION and CONDITION: LOCATION: Not Identified. Reported/observed at:________________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other TYPE: Not Identified. Reported/observed at:________________ Concrete/Steel/Other:_____________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other Septic Tank / Aerobic Tank / Grease Trap Cesspool / Overflow Cesspool / Privy Is System Shared: Y/N Previous Inspection Records Attached: Y/N Damage/Defects Observed:________________________________________________ CAPACITY: Not Visible. Reported/observed at:________________ Gallons: _________________________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other COVER: Not Visible. Reported/observed at:________________ Concrete/Steel/Other:_____________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other Damage/Defects Observed: child-hazard, missing, not secure, damaged, __ AGE OF COMPONENTS: Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ COMMENTS:____________________________________________________________ NOTICE: Low volume minimum-flush toilets/waste disposal system installed.
If a septic mound system or raised bed septic system is installed, a pump may be required to move effluent from a pumping chamber up to the mound treatment area.
[Click to enlarge any image]
The presence of a septic mound will be quite obvious but the presence or absence of a pump serving the mound may be less apparent. Look for control boxes, pumping chamber access cover, and of course request whatever information a prior owner may be able to provide - but don't' rely on that data to be complete.
PUMPING EQUIPMENT: PUMP-Mound Not Visible. Reported/observed at:________________ Operating Satisfactorily Y/N Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other PUMP-Ejector Not Visible. Reported/observed at:________________ Operating Satisfactorily Y/N Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other ABSORPTION SYSTEM: LOCATION: Not Identified. Reported/observed at:________________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other Damage/Defects Observed:________________________________________________ TYPE: Not Identified. Reported/observed at:________________ Cesspool Capacity:___________ Information Source: Seller/Realtor/Other Seepage Bed Trench System Elevated Mound/Sand Other:_______________________________________ Indications of previous failure: Odors, Seepage, Lush Vegetation, Gray Water discharge. to surface/stream/storm drain; Parking, driveway, runoff, shrubs, trees over drainfield; Construction/additions over drainfield; COMMENTS:____________________________________________________________ SYSTEM OPERATION VISUAL OBSERVATIONS: COMMENTS:____________________________________________________________ CONCLUSIONS and RECOMMENDATIONS: --SATISFACTORY-- good to fair condition No visual evidence of system failure, functional drain flow was observed. EXPLANATION: At the time of our inspection the sewage disposal system appeared to be working normally and adequately. There was no evidence of stopped main drains, no unusual septic odors. [If a loading/dye test was NOT performed:] By your instruction, we did not perform a system loading and dye test. Important additional information about system condition is available from this and other levels of septic inspection. [There was/was not evidence of recent excavation or repair - which suggests that additional questions to owner or investigation are in order.] [If a loading/dye test was performed:] Report details of dye test procedures (see below), and results. SEPTIC SYSTEM LOADING AND DYE TEST ON-SITE DETAILS: WATER run at:______________________ for __________ minutes prior to introducing tracer dye. TRACER DYE placed at: ____________________________ WATER RUN at these fixtures:___________________________________________________ FOR ________________________ minutes at an ESTIMATED AVERAGE FLOW OF ______GPM TOTAL TEST VOLUME OF WATER WAS ________________________ GALLONS
These photographs show three reasons to believe there is no working septic system at this property and that installing one will be costly: there is no area on the site which is not very rocky - there is a lack of soil for effluent treatment; the site is very steep, and even before beginning the septic loading and dye test there is visible runout that may be septic effluent coming from a tiny home-made septic tank.
The first photo (above left) shows water running across rock near the reported septic tank location before we began our septic loading test. The second or right-hand photo shows the increase in water running across this rock shortly after we began testing this septic system.
EVIDENCE OF BACKUP, DYE BREAKOUT, OR OTHER DEFECT WAS/WAS NOT ______OBSERVED DETAILS _______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ ---UNSATISFACTORY-- poor condition or nonfunctional Evidence of failure/improper operation was observed: System backup (system backs up into house) System breakout (discharge or ponding of effluent on ground surface) System blockage (system backs up and leaks at tank or distribution. box) (static liquid level in distribution box above outlet) (liquid level in cesspool less than 6" below invert or available volume less than 1/2 day flow) Hydraulic overload (excess. water in absorption area, effluent @ surface) (fields may be undersized, improperly located, damaged) (fields may be improperly installed, unbalanced) Maintenance failure (fields damaged by solids flowing from tank/tree roots) Mechanical damage (driving over leach fields, damage piping/trenches) Groundwater flowing onto/into/flooding absorption area Mound systems: improper slope, insufficient soil layer, on flood plain, less than 5' from property line, less than 50' from stream; pump defects; Other Defects: (pumping multiple times during past year (e.g. less than 4)) (damaged tank, baffles, distribution box, other) (Absorption system located in low/wet areas) (Components within 50' of a surface stream, pond, river, or private well) (Between 50 and 100' from a private well with no acceptable water analysis) (Components within 100' of a tributary to a surface water supply) (Too close to a public well (depends on state regulations.)) (Cesspool or privy within 50' of a protected wetland) COMMENTS:____________________________________________________________
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Technical Reviewers & References
Composting Toilets - Books & References
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Greywater System Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books