What is a Septic Inspection?
Homes in Tallahassee will discharge waste to either the city sewage system or a septic tank. If you own or plan on buying a home with a septic tank, there are some things you should do to save money and headaches in the future.
Septic systems are a simple yet reliable way to treat waste. They are essentially a two part system: a separation tank and absorption area. Septic waste flows out of the house into a 1000-1500 gallon separation tank (aka “septic tank”), which is normally made of concrete. Once in the tank, the solid material will settle to the bottom of the tank and liquid will rise to the top. Baffles allow the liquid to flow into a second chamber where another separation occurs.
Once solids are separated from the liquid, the liquid enters an absorption area (aka a “leach field” or “drain field”). Exiting the separation tank, several feet of perforated pipe are laid on a bed of aggregate or crushed rock. The effluent liquid is allowed to “leach” into the ground in an evenly distributed manner.
When a septic tank is not maintained properly, a number of problems may arise:
- solid or sledge compaction in the separation tank
- clogged tank or drain field pipes
- toilet or drain backups allowing sewage into the home
- standing sewage on the property
Concrete septic tanks can last up to 40 years, but the drain fields generally only last about 20. Homeowners should have their septic tanks pumped every 3-5 years depending on the amount of septic waste being discharged from the home. Home buyers should have both the drain field and septic tanks inspected prior to purchase. If the owner has an adequate maintenance record, inspections may not be necessary. Considering a drain field inspection only costs $150 and a septic tank inspection is around $250, it’s a small price to pay to make sure you don’t have to shell out several thousand dollars for a new tank or drain field.