6 min read Jan 09, 2024

What Is the Role of Septic Tank Inspection in Real Estate

Edited By

Carol Coutinho

Edited By

Carol Coutinho

Editor, Houzeo

Carol C. is a versatile editor, expertly refining real estate content with precision and creativity. When not exploring market trends, she is immersed in the enthralling world of the theatre.

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Nearly 20% of U.S. households depend on septic systems for their waste disposal. However, 49% of these systems fail septic tank inspections due to poor construction or neglect. Moreover, an alarming 20% of these inspected systems pose grave health and environmental risks.

A faulty septic system can contaminate groundwater, wells, and rivers. This can further cause cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and even polio outbreaks on a massive scale. Hence, to protect the health of your family and locality, a septic tank inspection is necessary.

Septic Tank Inspection Findings🔍

  • 10% of home inspections include septic system evaluations.
  • The typical cost for a septic tank inspection varies between $200 and $500, but a comprehensive inspection may reach up to $1,000.
  • Malfunctioning septic systems can result in expensive repairs, ranging from $3,000 to $15,000, or even beyond.

What Is a Septic Tank Inspection?

A septic tank inspection thoroughly evaluates the condition of a septic system. It is usually done as a part of a home inspection. The buyer generally arranges for an inspector to examine the septic system structure.

Experts recommend scheduling inspections every 3 years. Also, try to hire an inspector qualified by NASSP or NAHI for your septic pump inspections.

What Is a Septic System?

A septic system is a decentralized wastewater treatment facility that consists of a septic tank and a drain field.

It plays a crucial role in managing wastewater from toilets, showers, sinks, and washing machines. It filters and distributes this water, minimizing soil and water contamination.

Types of Septic Tank Inspections

There are two main types of septic inspections:

1. Visual Septic Inspection

This is a basic inspection that focuses on the easily accessible components of the septic system. The inspector will typically:

  • Review the Property: The inspector will examine the drain field for signs of pooling or saturation.
  • Examine the Septic Tank: The inspector will look for visible cracks and leaks in the septic tank.
  • Verify Vent Pipes: The inspector will look at the ventilation pipes and ensure that they have no blockages.
    👉 Our Take: A visual septic inspection is ideal for those who seek a speedy assessment. Despite potential accuracy limitations, this method offers a cost-effective solution of around $100 – $300.

2. Invasive Septic Inspection

This is a more thorough examination, digging deeper into the system’s functionality. The inspector will:

  • Excavate Around the Tank: The inspector will expose the tank to take a closer look at its current condition.
  • Pump the Tank: The inspector will remove the accumulated sludge and inspect the interior for damage.
  • Test the System: The inspector will conduct dye testing to assess the tank’s functionality and potential leaks.
  • Carry Out a Video Inspection: The inspector will use a camera to examine the internal components like pipes.
    👉 Our Take: An invasive septic inspection is ideal for those who want a thorough assessment. Despite the additional cost and time involved, this technique offers a comprehensive solution of around $300 – $1,000+.

Who Performs a Septic Tank Inspection?

Qualified septic tank inspectors, often certified by NASSP or NAHI perform septic system inspections. Even home inspectors are capable of conducting a generic-level inspection.

You should ensure that you are hiring one of the best inspectors to guarantee a thorough assessment.

Common Septic Inspection Findings

Since a home inspector can conduct a septic tank inspection, they can include these findings in their home inspection report:

  • Excess Sludge Accumulation: The extended buildup of sludge can lead to a foul odor in the system.
  • Drainfield Complications: Issues like clogs or soil saturation can impact drain field performance.
  • Tree Root Intrusion: Tree roots can infiltrate pipes, causing damage and blockages.
  • Cracked Tanks or Pipes: Structural issues in tanks or pipes can lead to leakage and groundwater contamination.

Why Is an Inspection Important?

These inspections play a pivotal role in real estate transactions for several reasons. Septic inspections:

  • Protect Property Value: An outdated, faulty, or non-compliant septic tank can significantly impact the fair market value of your property. Quick inspections keep your property value high.
  • Ensure Homebuyer Confidence: An inspection ensures that the homebuyer’s financial investment won’t go down the drain. A clean bill of health enables the prospective buyer to buy a property without any fear.
  • Reduce Environmental Impact: An old septic system can harm the environment by polluting nearby water bodies. Regular inspections help prevent such hazards, aligning with environmental conservation efforts.
  • Meet Lending Requirements: Many mortgage lenders require a septic inspection as part of the home-buying process. So, it’s crucial to follow these rules to protect your finances.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of inspection for septic tanks varies but typically falls within the range of $200 to $600. Factors like inspection type, location, and the system’s complexity can further influence the final inspection cost.

If the septic inspection is done within the home inspection, then the cost differs accordingly.

» Home Inspection CostKnow more about the current inspection rates.

When Should You Call Your Septic Tank Inspector?

Inspection should be conducted at these stages:

  • Pre-Purchase Inspection: Essential before buying a property with a septic system.
  • Following System Installation: Verifies proper installation and adherence to regulations.
  • Regular Inspections: Should be conducted every 3-5 years for maintenance purposes.

You should call for a septic tank inspector when you spot these signs:

  • Slow Drains: Generally, this is indicative of potential clogs or issues with the drain field.
  • Foul Odor: Unpleasant smells around the septic tank area may signal the presence of clogged drains or cracked pipes.
  • Pooling Water: Water collecting around the drainfield may suggest drainage issues.
  • Grass Growth: An unusually vibrant patch of grass over the drainfield could indicate a leak.

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Bottom Line

A septic system inspection thoroughly assesses the tank’s structure, sludge levels, and more. Regular checks every 3-5 years will ensure proper health of the septic system.

Whether you opt for visual or full septic system testing, the goal is to identify issues early. Even though the costs vary, you should invest in inspections as they align with environmental conservation goals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to inspect a septic system?

Septic inspection can be only done either by a qualified home inspector or a professional septic inspector.

How to get your septic system to pass inspection?

There are a few factors you need to check to pass your septic tank inspection:
i. The tank should have a well-maintained wastewater level.
ii The drain should be unclogged.
iii. The septic system should have a decent basic structure.

A regularly inspected system will always stay in a good condition. Hence get a septic inspection to prevent any mishaps.

When should you call your septic tank inspector?

You should approach an inspector:
i. Once in every 3-5 years for maintenance purposes.
ii. Before buying a property with a septic system.
iii. During system installations.


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