What to tell your clients when they have a septic system. Watch the new episode now


Interesting, I would of liked to hear his thoughts on septic dye testing.

Septic dye can show that a septic system is not working properly, but can’t show that it is working properly.

Exactly! Dye tests are not precise. I don’t recommend them. The system should be pumped out and inspected.

Dye testing is not a valid method for evaluating septic systems. Wait, let me say it again…DYE TESTING IS NOT A VALID METHOD FOR EVALUATING SEPTIC SYSTEMS!!

Dye testing is simply a method of connecting the point of origin of the dye (toilet, sink, floor drain, gutter, etc.) with the point of outbreak (usually in the yard or over a bank somewhere).

Inspecting all the components of the system including probing the absorption field, and inspecting the interior components of the tank after pumping is the only proper method.

If you are afraid of losing inspections because the competition is offering dye tests, use the situation as a marketing opportunity…Explain why a dye test is not a valid method of inspecting a septic system. Inform your client (as properly indicated in the video) that the septic system is the most expensive appliance associated with the dwelling, and as such only recommend a complete evaluation by a professional tank pumper. Educating your clientele is one of the most effective means of marketing…

Well, sort of. Septic dye can precisely determine if a system* isn’t* working correctly, but can’t determine if a system *is *working correctly.

If you see dye in the yard, the system failed.
If you don’t see dye in the yard, the test is inconclusive.

When I was a home inspector, I secretly snuck dye down the toilet of every home inspection that had a septic system, even though I wasn’t hired to do a septic inspection. On one inspection, the entire stream behind the home turned florescent green. Many times the dye would show up in the yard by the end of the inspection.

If you see dye, you can really save your client’s behind and be a hero.
If you don’t see dye, you can’t say much of anything about the septic system… and so don’t.

No offense Nick…I’ll stick to calling in the pumper.

Pumping isn’t an inspection and it isn’t a repair. It is maintenance.

Wanna be a hero? Sneak the dye down the toilet, even when you aren’t doing a septic inspection. When the yard turns florescent… no one will argue with you for doing it. You’ll kill the deal (maybe) but your client will certainly use you again and provide you word of mouth advertising about how you saved his/her butt.

I never confessed to anyone that I did it on every home inspection that had a septic system. On the one’s that failed, the agents would ask me how I knew to test with dye on this particular property?. I would just say that it was *inspector intuition… *even though secretly I ran the test all the time. :stuck_out_tongue:

To clarify Nick - – When I say I call a pumper, its a PSMA certified pumper. They do a complete septic inspection including pumping. At this juncture, it would be professional suicide for me to start putting dye in toilets (On the sly to boot!) after educating the realtors about the pitfalls of dye tests. All I would need is dyed waste water pouring through a crack in the waste line above a drop ceiling…“I’m sorry mam, I snuck some dye into your toilet and now its leaking all over you basement family room” Your kidding aren’t you? What are we running here? Inspections or a variety show?

Well, a least you found a leak

I wouldn’t know if the pumper does an inspection or not, or even if my client is hiring a separate septic inspection or not. Recommending a pumper doesn’t prevent a home inspector from getting sued over a bad septic, although in the very rare case that the suit is actually tried in court, it would certainly help the inspector’s case (albeit thousands of dollars in defense costs too late). Again… a septic dye test can demonstrate that a system isn’t working properly, but can’t demonstrate that it is working properly.

As for:

I’d probably say “Congratulations Mrs. Client, I suspected an indoor leak and so put some dye into your toilet and found that you were leaking human waste above the drop ceiling of the family room. Had I not discovered it, it may have created a serious health issue.”

The dye also works well in revealing broken pipes outdoors especially pressurized sandmound system pipes… common problems a pumper could not discover from an inspection of only the tank. I just don’t tell anyone I’m doing it or charge extra for it, as my goal is not to perform a septic inspection (a service I never offered), but rather avoid lawsuits. Your client can’t sue you for a bad inspection on home he/she didn’t buy because of a bad septic system.

I also like the dye because it is dramatic in 3 ways:

  1. I’m not there to perform a septic inspection, but found a faulty septic system anyway.

  2. Septic systems are the most expensive appliance in the home. I saved my client lots of $.

  3. They dye provides a big, visible demonstration that doesn’t require expertise to recognize. Everyone understands it.

Drama is a big part of marketing.

Nick - I KNOW the PSMA certified pumper will do a thorough inspection of the entire septic system including the tank and absorption field components. They also perform a Hydraulic Load Test if the house is vacant…Check out www.PSMA.net. Any inspection report I’ve done on a dwelling involving a septic system indicates in writing my recommendation that the septic system be evaluated by a septic technician certified to do so. I can’t imagine getting sued on this issue by deferring to the professionals.

Drama is also a big part of litigation…

In the end Nick I respect your opinion and methodologies, however I choose to not change mine.

Oh, I think recommending a pro to look at the septic system is a good idea, it just doesn’t make me a fortune, like exploiting for marketing purposes my finding of a faulty system or broken pipe does.

Septic system problems are one of those few defects that even “deal-killer-fearful agents” are thrilled when you uncover.

I’m not saying there aren’t better marketing moves, but there really aren’t too many things as sweet as having agents and past clients running around your local market telling others how you “a mere home inspector” saved their tushes on a deal.