A septic system receives, treats and disposes of unwanted wastewater and solids from the house’s plumbing system. Solids are partially broken down into sludge within a septic tank and are separated from effluent (water) and scum (fat, oil and grease). Effluent regularly exits the tank into a drainfield where it is naturally filtered by bacteria and reentered into the groundwater. Scum and sludge must be pumped periodically and should never enter the drainfield.

What we are looking for:

  • Last pump date - sludge level should determine whether a tank should be pumped, but knowledge of previous pumping dates can be a helpful reference

  • Sludge level - sludge accumulates on the tank bottom and should not occupy more than 1/3 of the tank’s total volume or rise to the level of the baffles

  • Location - tank and drainfield should be far from wells and streams

  • Size (capacity) - is the system large enough for the home

  • Surface seepage - this condition is unsanitary and indicates that the system is overloaded

  • Riser lids - If present, inspected for cracks and made sure they are secure

  • Baffles - ensure that the baffles are firmly connected to the tank’s inlet and outlet pipes

  • Drain lines - ensure that there is an even distribution of water to each line