I recently had a client call me to ask if I could get their septic tank pumped out. I replied, "Yes, I'll have the tank pumped as part of my inspection." The reply was, "The system was inspected already, and they just needed the tank pumped out."
WOW! This is a big "Red Flag" It's like diagnosing a cars' engine without opening the hood!
When it comes to septic systems, there are two basic types of inspections:
The County Inspection - Also called the Time of Sale Inspection, is done to fulfill the counties requirements. Every county is different, some have their own reporting criteria, and some don't inspect at all. It's possible to pass a county inspection without having to inspect the tank, and I believe many problems would be missed with this type of inspection.
The Bendix Inspection - I recieved my septic education with Michigan State University, at the Michigan Onsite Wastewater Training and Education Center (MOWTEC).
Using a detailed checklist, and with the countys info (if there is any), I will locate and open the septic tank, observe and record the conditions in the tank, inspect the condition of the baffles and tees, take a soil boring of the drain field, and I'll have the tank pumped.
They said a report they have states the tank was opened, conditions observed were normal, and they took a boring sample of the drainage field and it was normal.
The two ways a system can fail is at the tank and in the field. The problems associated with the tank are: The baffles are cracked, the cement tank is cracked, or there are tree roots penetrating the tank. Any of these would fail an inspection, but you will never know without having the tank pumped out.
After explaining this I asked, "Are there any trees within 50' of the system?" And the answer was "Yes."
I'm glad to say I sold them on a proper inspection!!!