Septic Systems

I’m pulling what little hair that I have left out. I’m looking for an inspection agreement for septic systems. I checked the archives but found nothing. Anyone have one that I could model mine after.

This is some text of what I use in Texas…

Inspection includes tank(s) and systems that proceed out of from
the tank(s) only. Also be advised that septic systems need to be
cleaned out and(or) maintained as needed.

Tip - Septic System installed after 1988 should have a State permit. Tank(s)
should be accessible and records of system maintenance verified. This is a
VERY LIMITED visual inspection and much of the Septic System cannot be
seen because it is underground (our opinion should not be taken as an exhaustive
evaluation and we suggest further inspections by a Licensed Septic Professional
if a higher level of inspection is needed) Please read the following information
put out by the EPA to obtain more information:

http://cfpub.epa.gov/owm/septic/homeowners.cfm

Check with local athorities to see if they require further inspections according
to their requirements before closing on the sale of property.

BTW…

Are you qualified to inspect septic systems?
Just asking.

Yes,We have no certification in our state to inspect. Our health departments who license the installers regulate everything except inspection. Our Legislature has not addressed this. The local county health departments will do it for a small fee are getting out of the business because they don’t have the time or manpower. Could be a little niche.

OK… I was just wondering. The more you can do, the more the
customers will select you over your competition.

I hope so. Do you have a vender that saves you money on your supplies. Been trying to find one that deals in bulk.

What type of bulk are you talking about.

These folks give a NACHI discount if you email them before you buy
and tell them what you want to buy.

5% below $300.
10% over $300.

Barb x2557
Professional Equipment
Info@professionalequipment
Ph-800-334-9291
Fx-888-776-3187

http://www.professionalequipment.com

Rick,

I just finished taking NAWT cerification this weekend.

Their inspection agreement depends on the regulations of your state, county, municipality, association SOP and the extent of your evaluation.

Rick, how are you doing these inspections?

I have done many back in the mid 90s but those were just a flow type of test which I believe is not acceptable today.

Thanks

As a result of our state not having many standards we use the flow test. I understand that it is only a small snap shot and my agreement that I wrote up includes this. Our health dept currently use this also.

This damn thing says that I’m a member and then not a member. ???

Hello Rick,

I happen to have a couple of documents that I came across one day and saved on my computer. Maybe these will help you out a little. I can’t remember exactly where I found them though.

septic.pdf (113 KB)

Septic-Inspection-Report.pdf (71.1 KB)

Hope these can be of some help.

Wow!!!
Thanks Scott I will put this to work. I may change a few things and hope I get more from others that will help me put something together.

Barry, how do you feel about doing septic inspections now that you’ve taken the NAWT course?

I feel CRAPPY! :wink:

but I always thought and knew there is more involved to these systems than just the evacuation and redistribution of waste water from the home

soils, chemistry, occupants, size, type, land area, surrounding systems and terrain features…

better be getting some Great $$$ if you’re doing them otherwise leave them to the PROs

I can’t understand the “inspectors” that take on the liability and do these for a few bucks, it the same with pools.

I live out in rural east Texas and get a lot of full home inspections because I
include septic systems, when many others do not. I only charge a small fee,
but get a lot of full inspections because it is part of the ancillary package that I offer.

My mentor showed me some methods of reporting and testing that has
worked for him, and others for over 15 years with no call backs.

I really spend a lot of time at the site explaining the limitations of the inspection
and the various levels of dealing with problems (the gray world of what
works and what is legal). I warn them about several factors that I cannot
see and put the system through a flood test. I fail approx. 50% or call for
further evaluations from a Specialist. Older systems out here in the country
are poorly installed and almost never maintained properly.

I explain to people that even if their system passes the flood test, it does
not mean it will pass a full code inspection. Most will fail as soon as the
Septic Specialist walks on the property. In other words, even if it
passes, it may still be a marginal system that is not up to today’s standards.

I make them understand that they are still buying a wild card after I
do my inspection, unless it is fairly new and meets today’s standards.

I always warn them that they should not be surprised if the system fails
a few months after they buy the property, because my inspection is
so limited and general in nature.

Most seem to appreciate my honesty and some go to the next step
and get a more exhaustive inspection from a Specialist. I used to
work with some installers doing systems many years ago, so I understand
most of the Septic Systems in the ground out here east Texas, first hand.

I also offer pools, boat docks, retaining walls, sprinklers, out buildings,
water wells, and include thermal imaging. It’s all available with very
simple prices to understand. My prices are about double that of most
inspectors in my area.

But, it takes me less inspections to make the same money, and I do not
try and please any Realtor (period). Some people are looking
for that kind of inspector and are more than willing to pay extra for it.

I think we should all raise our prices and watch it work it’s wonder.

By the time I average out what I make for ancillary inspection, my
price per inspection is approx. $500.00 +

Plus, with thermal imaging… I get calls to travel several hours and
will charge from $650 to $900 for these (single home inspection).

John,

Would you mind sharing your mentors methods?

What is a “flood test”?

I’m always willing to learn!

THANX

If you look up what a non aerobic system is suppose to be able to process
in a day (three bedroom - two bathroom house), and then run the
water in the house to just under that threshold, you have now flood
tested that septic system.

I have measured the water meter and found that running the water from
every fixture and flushing toilets (several times) can insert approx. 200gals
into the system, in approx. 20 min.

If it backs up, smells, or has above ground seepage outside, then it fails.

Limitations …

  • tanks might be empty from not being used
    (tell the client that the test will not be valid if the house has not been in use
    and let them get it ready 24 hours in advance).

I then tell the client, that unless they can see written records of proper pumping,
then the system has already been marginalizes. They need to call the county
agent and get a verification of the systems certification and check with the
local authorities to see other restrictions are in place. All systems in Texas
should be certified (after 1988 )

When I see too much slope in the grading, limited space for installation,
or suspect the tanks or systems are too close to house, under driveways,
too close to property lines, too close to water wells, too close to public
lakes, or just look suspicious… I always call for further evaluation by a
Septic Specialist.

I then warn the Client that the system could fail tomorrow, because
this is just a very basic, cursory inspection and it is impossible to know
much about the system when you cannot even see it.!!!

I then tell them to have it cleaned and pumped. If they fail to heed my
warning, and it fails a few months later… I can always tell them
that they did not clean it like I told them to. It takes work to keep
a system operating like it should.

I over emphasis the fact that they need further inspections if they want
more assurance and I put this in writing.

I discuss the available options on how “some people make repairs”
vs calling for a licensed installer, who will fail the system as soon
as he steps foot on their property and slap them with a $6000 fee
for a new aerobic system. Most people will make their own repairs
out here in the country side, and not tell anyone. How are they going
to prosecute me, when they are making illegal, but functional repairs?

I do not recommend illegal repairs… but many still do it in the
real world of owning a septic system.

In other words, I let them know all their options and tell them to please
understand that I can only tell them so much, based on such a small
fee and a very limited visual inspection.

Over 50% of the systems fail the inspecton and flood test.
I have not had a single call or complaint in 9 years, from a client
or a seller.

If a seller would happen to complain then I would tell them to call a
licensed installer, and do an invasive inspection, and prove that their system
is OK.

To do that, it will cost them several hundred dollars and there is a 99% chance
it does not meet current code. So how can they prove I killed the deal and
their system is really working. They cannot.

When I fail the system, they cannot prove me wrong, because
a licensed installer is going to fail it for sure, after me, 99% of the time. IMHO.
Why? I failed it visually and he will fail it by code, and invasive inspection.

So here is the breakdown on old non aerobic systems:

50% fail the flood test … (no liability for me).
25% need more evaluation (no liability for me).
Most will not clean and pump their system when I leave (no liability for me).
I recommend verifying proper certifications and checking with local authorities,
before closing on the property.

Of those system that I say are OK, and then have a problem later,
most people will choose to do their own illegal repairs instead of the
expense of a new aerobic system and taking me to court. IMHO.
This is just my opinion, from what I have seen so far.

I believe the above methods help ensure low liability and a fair-limited
visual inspection of the septic system.

It takes 25-30 min. and I charge $35 for this helpful service. I
go back every couple minutes to check for backup problems and
flush toilets.

Many people want me to do their full house inspection, instead of the
other guys, because this fee is so cheap. But hey… my starting fee
for the whole house inspection is already double the normal fees, for
here in east Texas.

I hope I have covered all the bases.:wink:

BTW… get the owners permission to run the water for the flood
test. Some owners refuse the test, not because they are afraid of
the septic failing, but do no want you to find out that the water well
goes dry in 15 min… :slight_smile:

Watch out for back up problems. I have flooded a couple
bathrooms by not watching close enough. You will have
about a 2 min. (mabey) warning before the toilet or shower
decides to overflow.

John:

Isn’t the flood test a bit unfair?

To load a system with a full day’s 200+ gallons in 20 minutes is not the natural flow to the leach field which is usually spread out over 16-18 hours from 6 AM until 12 AM. A field may easily absorb 60-100 or so gallons from early morning use of flushes and showers but floods when the total day’s load is dumped on it in 20 minutes. No field is designed to accept the daily load in 20 minutes.

I have used this test a couple of times to prove a point when I suspect breakout from the field and have to prove it to someone (the signs and smell of breakout should be enough but they want strong visual proof). It usually only takes a few minutes tap running and flushes before blackwater appears on the soil surface. The last one I remember was at a Vendor agent’s daughter’s place!!

I use a form with an agreement and the test results all in one. i can try to uplaod or send it via email if you like. Just e mail me and i will see what i can do. It would be in a pdf file but copying it should be easy. Just tweak it to fit.

I have talked with Licensed Septic Installers and they sometimes use the
same flood test. When you figure that on a busy weekend when everyone
and the relatives gets home from swimming, they might all start…

washing cloths
several start bathing
washing dishes
run water for cooking
flush the toilet several times
wash veggies
wash hands
make ice tea, pour out old drinks
etc…

A lot can happen in 20 minutes…:mrgreen:
You see, a septic system is suppose to work on the busiest day
of the year even if it has been raining outside for two weeks.