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septic inspection


Chad Fabry
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I always tell people that other than a visual inspection of the areas containing the tank(s) and drainfield(s), I can't really offer them much in the way of a septic system inspection.

I don't use any dyes. I have enough problems not damaging people's houses without adding dye into the equation.

I do try and locate the tank(s) with a 3/8 inch 4 foot piece of rebar to show the client where it is and I check the tank and drainfield areas last to see if there is any water percolating up after running the dishwasher and plumbing fixtures. If the house has been vacant, I don't expect to find anything.

I generally tell the client they should ask the Seller when they last had the tank pumped and if they'd be willing to split the cost of having it pumped again so a septic system contractor can inspect it before closing.

If they ask me about a septic inspection when they book the inspection, I'll offer to make arrangements for a septic contractor to be there to pump and inspect the system. I don't charge extra for that but I've heard some HI's do.

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Chad,

Both of the outfits where I worked as a sub contractor did septic inspections. The main reason (THEY said, I didn't) was because they would loose too many realtors if they stopped. It has to do with one stop shopping and the wink wink inspection control for the realtor.

I am convinced that they are more trouble than they are worth (IF done properly)

I don't do them, I don't plan to ever do them.

NOW, I am sure I lose some business because of this, but 90% of the homes in my area are serviced by city systems. If your area is mostly rural, you may have no choice.

Others (like Dennis) I think just get addicted to the fumes.

George

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Hi Chad:

I punt when it comes to septic tanks. I confess that I do not have the proper knowledge or tools to do the customer justice. Maybe someday but I have bigger fish to fry at the moment.

Pumping of septic tank and visual inspection are methods used to check septic tank condition. Probing in the area of a tank is not recommended; the probe may damage fiberglass and steel tanks. Steel tanks last 20-25 years, rust, and collapse. Since steel tank tops may be replaced while leaving the old tank in place, the condition of the top is not a reliable indication of tank age/condition. Concrete and fiberglass tanks may crack; baffles may be damaged allowing solids into the absorption field. When property ownership is changing, it is highly recommended that the septic tank be pumped and visually inspected after the dye testing but prior to closing.

For what it's worth, your mileage may vary.

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What everyone else said. When I was performing rural inspections, I would always inform the customer that I do not perform any septic inspections, & then explain why. A 1 minute explanation, properly edited, is more than enough to explain why it is impossible for anyone to inspect a septic system. At the site, I would take 5 minutes to explain how the systems work w/ the aid of a couple drawings. It's win/win; the customer is educated & feels you did your job, & you beat the rap on a worthless inspection requirement.

Once the client sees how they work, it is readily apparent that no worthwhile inspection is possible w/out total excavation, @ which point, simply install a new Infiltrator trench system.

Dye tests tell you when the system is totally failed; they're worthlesss. You can smell the system before you'd see dye bubbling to the surface.

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Chad,

Here's my take on septic inspections.

Every day I go to work, I place my professional reputation on the line, so I only do things I think I can do really well, and at the risk of sounding arrogant, better than most guys. My fees are more than double the national average, so I have to live up to the expectations that sets.

I know one of the best septic inspectors around and have been out with him on inspections. He visits the local Board of Health, gets pumping records and water bills, locates all components of the system, excavates the tank cover and d-box, has the tank pumped (separate charge) and snakes out the leaching lines with camera and TV monitor. It is a lot of work for $500, but because you get so dirty and stinky, not something that necessarily dovetails with an inspection. I am certified to do them, but I don't. Doing them entirely separate from home inspections is something that many folks in MA do-but you have to know your shit. (Pardon that one, but I figured if I buried it in the middle of the post, O'Handley wouldn't even notice)

Plus, the boiled-down version of the law in MA states that the seller is required to have the septic system inspected to the state standard by a state certified person.

I know there are plenty of people who do them, but dye tests alone are next to meaningless. I do a thorough, high end inspection, and to add on a dye test would, I think, erode my credibility and give me the look of a profiteer.

I do what Kurt does, a 2 minute explanation and with my own personal graphics.

Like Terry, I punt,

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A letter was sent to our state association from the Dept of Health warning inspectors not to perform septic inspections.

Apparently there was a problem with a septic inspection performed in Tallahassee for one of the legislators and it did not work out well.

We never did them and recommend a septic inspection for all homes that have them.

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Ellen:

I didn't do it, I swear. I've only done one inspection for a legislator and it had a sewer connection. The State Representative wanted a place to stay in Tallahassee during committee meetings and session and did not want to stay in a hotel. The place was a real winner if you know what I mean. He must have gotten a really good price!

btw....I did not get that letter from FABI but I don't do them anyway.

Bobby

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Yeah,

Those hotels have those pesky details like registers and credit card charges that leave a paper trail that the wife's PI can pick up on really easy. Now, a nondescript house, that's another story. Bet he never installs a phone and uses just his cell. (Sorry, can't help it. I'm a cynical ex-cop who doesn't trust politicians.)

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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  • 3 years later...

Septic inspections are not a major ordeal provided you link up with a reputable and honest installer/repairman. Most of the times, clogged systems can be remedied through commercial additives such as ridex.com, uncloggerand septic tank treatment septic tank treatment. An honest installer/repairman will diagnose the situation and help boost your reputation (unlike some counties where inspectors go out of their way to fail to drive biz to the installer/repairman for kickbacks) and earn you major refferels.

I'd tackle it head on and do you research prior to doing so.

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For many years I did septic inspections. I would load the system with water, locate the tank and field with a probe, and in 90% of the inspections I would dig up and open the tank lid. The problem with septic inspections is that you are never really looking at the components. You are only looking for red flags, clues, and symptoms. It's like inspecting roofs with a foot of snow on them, you can not see anything and will only find a problem if it is failing right now!

In my area 50% of the houses are on a private septic system. Because of this I thought I had to be the guy that could do it all.

Because there is so much risk in septic inspections and the level of inspection you can do without pumping the tank adds almost no value, I no longer do septic inspections

I am honest with clients and tell them (and Realtors) that the money spent on having a home inspector do a septic inspection is wasted. I recommend that they use that same money to have a septic contractor inspect and pump the system. As best I can tell I do not think this policy has hurt my business.

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Hello friends I am an inspector I look for signs of leakage or odors. Some inspectors will even put a dye into the system to aid in spotting leakage. If leakage is there, then the system is in failure. If an odor is noted but no leakage, this is a sign that the tanks may need to be pumped and further inspection is advised. You can add this method for inspection the septic.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Originally posted by Chad Fabry

I have no desire to add septic inspection to my repertoire of services. I'm sure that at some point I'll feel compelled to add it and I'd better start getting informed now .

How many of you include septic and what methods do you use to inspect?

I've been inspecting and testing septic systems for about 30 years. Early on I found that there was no common guideline on just what to do and what to report, so I've made a project out of figgering out what we need to do, including reviewing laws, texts, and course material.

I have an ongoing project website on the inspection, diagnosis, maintenance, and repair of septic systems at:

http://www.inspect-ny.com/septbook.htm

Since questions and critique make the data more accurate and more complete, I welcome questions from inspectors about septic systems, and I especially appreciate any critique or content suggestions regarding the septic information website above.

Respectfully

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I do a septic inspection. Approximately 50% of the homes that I inspect have a septic system.

As far as method, I am certified as an advanced septic inspector with the PSMA Pennsylvania Septage Management Association and we follow strict guidelines for the inspection. The seller is responsible for uncovering the septic tank lid and I do the probing/sizing of the field and sizing of the septic tank.

There are till schmucks out there who flush dye which is nothing but BS.

See the dye article here: http://psma.net/dye_tests.html

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If you read the post from NJ, you will see that the NJ inspection standard is based on the PSMA model. We do training for New Jersey septic inspectors.

I was very active in the PSMA/NOF (National Onsite Foundation) and was on the state board of directors. I recently gave up my position as President of region 2 which is most of the northeast section of PA. An organization like that is gold for a home inspector who does septic inspections due to the connections and business relationships that you enjoy.

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