Septic Dye Testing

Hello fellow inspectors,

I am looking to grow and offer more services to my home inspection business to be a convenient one stop shop. I was looking for information on performing Septic dye tests but I have been striking out. Could anyone point me in the right direction or even give me a quick run down of the procedure. I understand many people say this is a liability but this I get many calls for this service to pass it by. Thank you all in advance.

Nachi does have a septic course that you can take and I imagine that it would cover the basics of a dye test.

If you are planning on adding septic inspections to your business just know that there is a lot more involved in this type of inspection than just pouring dye into a toilet.

I do offer my clients septic inspections just as a convenience to them but I am trying to get out of performing these, I just can’t find someone that I can rely on, and now too many people know that I perform these and want them done.

Joshua, We offer septic inspections and do not perform dye testing. We actually excavate and open the septic tank and dig a minimum of 2 test/inspections holes in the leach field. It takes 1 man 1 to 2 hours to perform the septic test so take that into account. Take the Nachi septic course, get local training and find out what laws and regulations are in effect in your state.

Best thing i seen to do , dye testing is useless and a rip off . If it is that bad you can tell. lol

I find that there is too much liability in performing inspections on septic systems. You really need to pump the tank to perform a really complete evaluation, making sure nothing is flowing back into the tank. Are you going to own this type of equipment? Are you going to offer remote camera service with that, which you cannot always do? I find that it is better to have the guys who do it everyday, perform these. Maybe you can align with a few companies and take take a percentage from the total inspection fee for setting it up? Or just let them run with the service. Making a mistake and having a system fail is huge. $15,000 to $30,000 huge in my neck of the woods, depending on the system. For the record, we don’t do any dye testing either. I can’t even see the ground here for months at a time in the winter.

Here’s a home run:

Missouri states how a septic inspection needs to be performed. Dye testing is not used in most septic inspections in Missouri.

I will offer a dye test free of charge to anyone that asks for one. I tell them it is silly UNLESS there is a ravine behind the house and in that case, I may find grey water discharging. Other wise it will tell you literally nothing about your septic and I recommend having a septic service contractor evaluate. People think I can sketch the finger system and tell them exactly where all components are & I do not want any of this responsibility . I spent about 3 hours a few years back trying to locate a septic tank and said never again. FYI, I did not find that one.

If none of you believe in using dye when testing a septic system, how do you tell if a drainfield is leaking when the ground is wet or near a lake or stream?

To me dye testing confirms that the toilet is connected to the septic system, I cant see it helping with a flow test. I refer septic inspections out. This is not an item to inspect if you are not 100% certain. Its a big deal.

I think that’s the point- its all we could tell and would take much longer than the couple hours we are on site to find any concerns- other than IF grey water may be discharging outside somewhere

You put the dye in the tank in Missouri. It will usually show up within 45 minutes if there is a major problem, faster than a septic inspection can be performed.

I sub out my septics to a couple companies here in MD that are certified to do septic inspections. They routinely find issues with the septics, and I always ask them if the septic would have passed a dye test. On all but one, the answer was a resounding yes. I read somewhere that a dye test will catch 5% of the problems 5% of the time. Not odds I’m willing to take. The sad thing is, there are still inspectors around here doing the dye test (Amerispec) and charging a lot for it.


I wont even charge the $25 on my website for it. its worthless and ill do it free with any home inspection. just before I tell them to call a septic company to do a real evaluation

Robert, I am with you on this one. Dye tests are junk. Most cities and counties require their own code enforcement AHJ to test septic systems. Too much liability. Miss one, and your done. Just think of the replacement cost out of your pocket. $15K and up is not uncommon.

I think a lot of people commenting on here think that the only reason to use dye during a septic inspection is to see if there is a blockage between the house and the tank, if that is all the septic inspectors in your areas are doing then the clients are getting ripped off.

How are you going to know if the distribution lines are functioning properly if you don’t use dye?

If you are going to be performing a flow rate and sending hundreds of gallons of water through the system you may as well put some dye into the system and then probe the leech field to make sure that no effluent is making it’s way to the surface.

Nachi does have a decent course for those that are interested.

I agree with the people who say that there is a lot of possible liability with these type of inspections, if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t attempt it until you educate yourself.

I am not understanding where the other inspectors are coming from either Dave. My state recommends it and studies the effectiveness on dye tests with positive results. I am thinking that they must think it is part of a home inspection, which it is not. Just like thermal imaging should be a separate service, so is septic inspections.

I agree with James and Dave, its not part of a home inspection, and you should get educated about it and know your stuff before offering these services. (I do not do any septic inspections)

I agree with Jeff. Sub contract it out.

I don’t. My state specifically excludes it.