Septic tank inspection class

I am completing the “How to inspect a septic systems course”, and I have a question on the need for pumping. In the course there is a talks about measuring the slug and scum to determine if the tank needs pumping. However, in the inspection criteria it says “A functional inspection of the onsite treatment system is not complete until every tank is pumped and its condition evaluated, unless there is reason not to pump a tank.”

My question is, should I always plan to have a pumping truck on site during the septic system inspections to pump the tank or does my inspection stop short of a functional inspection and recommend I must recommend a functional inspection be done by a licensed septic professional? I hope that makes since.

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What is there to see if the tanks aren’t pumped?

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Are you licensed by your State to Certify / Re-Certify Septic Systems?

Many jurisdictions mandate septic tanks be pumped every few years. Last three homes I’ve owned with septic systems all required pumping the tanks and inspecting/Re-CERTIFYING every 5 years.

You need to have a real conversation with your local Health Department(s).


I have a licensed professional inspect these systems for me, he also does all of my lateral scopes. And although I do have these systems covered under my E&O, it’s still a liability I don’t want to have to deal with on my own.

In my area different county health departments all seem to follow a different set of rules for having these systems inspected, some require yearly, some every 5 years.


Exactly… and a side note…some areas increase the frequency of the inspections based upon the age of the system. The older it gets, the more prone it is to failure, thus the more frequent the inspections!

I pass on the shitty inspections and leave it to those that specialize in it. :wink:


So based on what I am seeing if I am not certified through the state or county health department to do functional inspections is out of the question, and I would basically only have to ID if it needs pumped and a functional inspection executed based on scum/sludge measurements and signs other signs of system failure.

Begin there…
Where are you located?
What experience/qualifications do you have?
Have you been working in the Private Sewage Disposal System industry?
In what capacity?

I am in Missouri. I have not worked in the private sewage disposal system industry in the past, but I live in a rural environment, and there is a high likelihood that I will be coming across clients looking for a septic inspection, well inspection, and general home inspections.


Well and Septic are typically highly regulated systems.
As I mentioned earlier, you really need to have a conversation with the AHJ’s in your area.

Sounds good. Thank you.

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Here’s how I see it. The majority of inspectors I have seen offering well and septic inspections aren’t really providing the level of inspection needed on these systems. Running a hose in a pail for a few minutes and looking at the well head to see if it is damaged, is not really a well inspection. And measuring the sludge depth and walking around the drain field a little bit is not really a septic inspection.


I agree JJ, but in some areas, like where I live, are not regulated at all by any AHJ. Still, it’s not something (well/septics) that I want to take on. The norm here is that RE agents mostly set up or recommend 3 inspections during due diligence. The home inspection, well inspection and septic. Of course if either well or septic has been done within the past year, most are waived by the buyer.

I’ve been ask many times if I do well or septic, and I always refer them to the companies that specialize in those areas.


That’s typically where the State steps in…

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any time I inspected a property with a private sewer system my report read,the home contains a private (septic) sewer system . I recommend having the system pumped and inspected by a qualified sanitarian befoe closing.


The tank is always going to be full of poop and fluids…so it has to be pumped before you can inspect the tank. Around here that requires a DHEC license. Problem is few people will pay to pump a septic system that they don’t actually own yet. I have found that traditional septic systems don’t have to be pumped that often but the engineered ones need to be pumped a lot especially if you have a big family. I advise clients to have it pumped when they buy the house and so they will always remember that date as a reference for future pumpings.


In a nutshell you would advise your client of how limited your inspection is (and it is!) and advise them that a full inspection would require pumping to evaluate (fully or not) the condition of the tanks and systems. Beyond that you are stepping into a very gray and expensive area if you FU even if you have the tanks pumped for your inspection!

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