How to Inspect Septic Systems

(David W. Gonzalez, HI8922) #21

I read two articles as per requirement in How to Inspect Septic Systems online course. The first was Greywater inspection. I chose this article as a lot of communities in my area have Greywater systems in place. The article was a good refresher on what to look for to determine systems and issues. I would recommend it for anyone. The second article that I read was Septic System Inspections. I thought this was a good article to tie into the course. I thought it was a good refresher on what I learned in the course. It did do a better job of teaching things to look for when searching for the location of a septic system. I would recommend this article to everyone also.
David Gonzalez
AcuSystem Home Inspections
Tampa, Florida

(Steven J. Everhart, HI 00500478) #22

This picture illustrates the need for a properly installed bathroom vent on three different levels. First note the wire nutted wires that provide power to the fan unit. These of course should be contained in a closed box or the unit itself. Secondly there is no tubing to take the moist air outside of the attic. This will over time compact the insulation and depending on the insulating materials etc. it may allow mold to grow. Thirdly and possibly my favorite, they went to all that effort and then decided to cut a big chunk out of the ceiling joist so that the fan could blow the air into the attic unimpeded.


(Steven J. Everhart, HI 00500478) #23

Cisterns can be used for several different purposes, from storing potable water, storing water for irrigation, to massive tanks used to store water for fire suppression purposes. They can be built from concrete block, reinforced concrete, metal, fiberglass or wood. Each has it’s own set of issues, from rusting, leakage to be damaged by ultraviolet rays. All should undergo regular inspection to ascertain if they are leaking, which can cause water to escape or contaminants to enter the system. A cistern should always be cleaned and disinfected before it is used. Cisterns should always be away from sewage lines, trees, on solid footing, and away from sources of heat.

(Darryl G. Warren) #24

Here’s a photo of a recent septic inspection on an older standard gravity septic system. The home was vacant for over a year, and the water level in the tank was high. This seemed like a tank that was not compromised. We then performed the hydraulic load test, all was good. Finally I had the tank pumped…We found a large crack in the bottom. It turns out that the clay soil in our area was saturated and allowing the tank to appear watertight. Without pumping we would have never suspected a crack.

(Mike Millett) #25

Picture attached is a view through the inspection port of a 1,000 gallon septic tank. This view shows the tanks outlet pipe located behind a concrete built-in baffle. The baffle appears in good shape and functioning as designed. Tank level is even with bottom of outlet pipe. A lower level may indicate a tank leak. Water was run from house through tank to test flow and absorption in leach field. No rise in level of tank indicated that no blockages existed at time of inspection. Test pits in leach field stayed dry and fill color did not indicate past or present absorption issues.
Note: Inspection plug to outlet pipe was seized in place and needed to be destroyed for proper visual inspection. Highly recommend destroyed plug be replaced.
System operating as designed with no indications of deficiencies noted at this time.

(Oscar A. Vazquez, TREC# 20876) #26

Inspection and Writing Assignment

Here’s a photo and short little essay/description of a recent aerobic inspection.
Aerobic sprinkler system located West of the structure. Visible surfacing/standing effluent noted. Aerobic sprinkler head located near West of structure is damaged and/or does not operate as designed. Recommend consulting with a licensed Septic professional for evaluation and repair.

(George Horton) #27

Observed non-smooth walls drain pipe in Master Bathroom. This pipe is not approved for a P-Trap and can lead to clogs with-in the plumbing system. I recommend a licensed plumber repair or replace P-Trap.

(George Horton) #28

There is a lot items that an inspector needs to know when inspecting a septic Systems. First, I learned that you should start with the County Health Department for their particular standards or codes as well as a site plan for the septic systems. Also the plumbing system in the house needs to be inspected, all toilet flushed. Note any above surface ponding. Locate the tank and find the ports to the tank. Observe the levels of Scum, Water and Sludge; as well as all Inlets and outlets, baffles and overall condition of tank. Depending on the type of the tank, alarms, switches and wire needs to be inspected. Anything that protrudes out of the tank must be sealed properly. An inspection of the Leach Field would be next. Looking for wet or damp areas, overgrown vegetation’s, ponding and erosion. Lastly any thing that is not satisfactory needs to be reported to the owner and health officials.

(George Horton) #29

This article is for Dryer Vents. Inspectors will not be aware of the type of dryer the new home owner will have so they must inspect the infrastructure of the dryer vent system. It is smooth wall and appropriate gauge of steel. How long is the vent, are there turns? are they 45% or 90% and where does the vent terminate? If the outside, verify self closing dampers, if there is screen, it must be written up and marked as deficient (Texas(

(Nick Gromicko, CMI) #30

BTW, I just took and passed the 2-day (classroom) NAWT Septic Course. InterNACHI’s is 10 times better.

I used to be not NAWT certified, now I’m not, not NAWT certified.

(Eric Brockman) #31

This image shows a section of drain in a septic system. Amazingly, this was not leaking at the time of inspection. I reported this as an incorrect repair and suggested that they have a licensed plumber bring this up to current code.

(Michael Smith) #32


My name is Mike Smith. I am taking the septic systems course.

(Michael Smith) #33

It wont allow me to upload my picture. It’s a grease interceptor for a hospital. It has the same design and function as a septic tank. This grease interceptor was missing the sanitary tee for the outlet of the first chamber and the sanitary tee for the second chamber was disconnected allowing the grease waste to escape the tank.

(Michael Smith) #34

The two articles I read from the library are about septic systems (or OWTS), their function, the do’s and don’t and maintenance. The article on inspections discusses when to inspect a septic system, how to locate the system, what an inspector looks for, the anatomy of the system and the dangers. The second article goes over a lot of the same information regarding septic systems but goes into more of the responsibilities of the homeowner in the maintenance of the septic system.

(Ben J. Gromicko) #35

What exactly is the message from our education system? Is there an error of some kind? All of our courses require an image upload, so you’ll have to figure out the process. Be sure to not use Internet Explorer (feedback from students is bad). And be sure to watch the short “how to” video for uploading images at Thank you.

(William E. McCollom, FLA HI9043) #36

The septic field was verified to be in operational condition using a flow test, the system accepted 15 minutes of water flow from the tank with no notable rise in levels indicating proper operation at the time of inspection

(William E. McCollom, FLA HI9043) #37

If anyone in Palm Beach County Florida knows where to access as-built location of septic systems I would appreciate the information. I can normally locate the tank through the normal follow the line technique, but when it take a drastic turn that’s another story.

(Douglas D. Halford, NH License #201) #38

The client expressed a desire to purchase this unheated, uninsulated summer home, with the notion of upgrading
the home for year round use. The septic system drain lines in this summer camp exhibited some settling due to non-support,
and an uphill run to the exterior, from the clean out end of the drain line in the crawl space area.
Inspector pointed out to the client that with the negative slope of the main drain line to the exterior,
could possibly cause sludge to collect at the low point of the drain inside the home, and also cause line freeze
(due to close topsoil proximity), without a positive drain slope to the holding tank.

(Howard R. McAdam) #39

This is a picture of a private septic tank. The owner said that the cover was propped up because of the main sewer pipe being clogged a lot. The wastewater drain pipe appears to have the incorrect slope, which should be 1% – 2%, 1/8” :12 – 1/4” : 12, to prevent solid blockages. The metal sheet in the upper right side of the tarp, was used to cover the treatment tank. With all the holes in it all the rain water drains into the treatment tank. Recommend that a septic tank contractor be consulted to correct this situation.

(Howard R. McAdam) #40

InterNACHI Home Inspection Report Checklist
Septic System Inspection

Client name: Sarah Wallack
Inspected property address: 607 Kennel Lane, Jacksonville, NC 28540
Date and time of the inspection: 11/03/2015 @ 2:15 PM
Weather conditions: Raining
Approximate outdoor air temperature: 72 F
People present at the time of the inspection: Client
Estimated year built: 1972
Type of structure inspected: Wastewater Septic System

Company name: Old North State Inspection Services
Inspector name: Howard R. McAdam
Company phone: (910) 545-7245
Company email:
Company address: 607 B Kennel Lane, Jacksonville, NC 28540

Inspected: IN Not Inspected: NI Not Present: NP Satisfactory: SA Further investigation is recommended: FIR Satisfactory with concerns: SC Condition cannot be determined: CND Unsatisfactory: US Could Not Locate: CNL
I inspected the main water supply shut–‐off valve: IN
I inspected the interior water supply, including all
fixtures and faucets, by running the water: IN
I inspected all toilets for proper operation
by flushing: IN
I inspected all sinks, tubs, and showers for functional
drainage: IN
I inspected the drain, waste and vent system:
I inspected the drainage sump pumps with accessible floats: NP
Location of the treatment tank: IN
Location of the cesspool or seepage pit: CNL
Effluent delivery and distribution system: CNL
Locate the absorption area: CNL
Risers, filters and baffles:


Based upon observed evidence, the water supply is______ public¬¬¬_ X_____ private.
The location of the main water supply shut–‐off valve is: The main water supply shut-off is located at the well pump, the southeast part of the property, approximately 30 feet away from the house. See the diagram of the property.


The septic inspection is based on the condition of the onsite wastewater treatment system observed at the time of the inspection. It does not predict future conditions. Old North State Inspection Services makes no representation that the system was designed, installed or meets current standards. Old North State Inspection Services does not warrant, guarantee, or certify the proper functioning of the system for any period of time. Because of numerous factors (usage, soil type, installation, maintenance, etc.) which affect the proper operation of an onsite treatment system, as well as the inability of Old North State Inspection Services to supervise or monitor the use and maintenance of the system, this inspection report shall not be construed as a warranty by Old North State Inspection Services that the system will function properly for the current owner or for any prospective buyer. Old North State Inspection Services disclaims any warranty, either expressed or implied, arising from the inspection of the septic system. Old North State Inspection Services liability is equal only to the cost of the inspection.

This is a visual noninvasive inspection only.

Observed some leaks. Kitchen sink, the faucet was leaking. The shower head was leaking. Recommend replacing the washers in the faucet and shower head or consulting a licensed plumber for repairs.

The home owner told me that she had frequent backups, and had to clear the blockage with a snake. The drainage pipe appears to have too much of a slope. Recommend a septic system contractor be consulted to correct this issue.

Observed that the treatment tank was located 6’ 6” away from the house. The treatment tank should be no closer than 10’ away from any building. Recommend a septic system contractor be consulted for correction.
Further investigation is recommended to determine the condition of the septic system.

Could not locate the distribution box by probing. Recommend a septic system contractor be consulted to investigate further.

Old North State Inspection Services
Name of inspector conducting the inspection
Name (print): Howard McAdam
Signature: Howard McAdam
Date: 11/03/2015