A septic system receives, treats and disposes any unwanted water and solids from a home. Solids are partially broken down into sludge within a septic tank and are separated from effluent (water) and scum (fat, oil and grease). Effluent 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. The tank size varies depending on the number of bedrooms. Typically a 1000 gallon tank can handle 5 or 6 persons living in the house full time. Any more would cause the the scum to be overflow and plug up the drainfield. This is when your septic system has to be replaced. Your typical price to install an new septic system is about $8,500-$11,000. It may be more depending on soil conditions and terrain.
This picture shows a single tank septic system.
This picture shows a two tank septic system.
Whatcom County states that septic systems should be inspected once a year, including as soon as the house is put on the market for sale. This will enhance the home’s value and avoid any liability issues that might result from a malfunctioning system. It is in the interest of a prospective buyer to insist that the owner of the septic system be inspected before they purchase the home if it has not been done within a year. Typical septic inspection inspections are about $130 and if pumping is required about $375.
Here are some home inspections pictures that was done recently.
In this picture the manhole was uncovered and removed to test the thickness of the scum and solids. In this case, neither was too thick, so no pumping was recommended. The inspector used water from the hose to test the drain field. If a drain field has failed then you will see water coming up from the ground. You would also notice more vegetation growth and more green than the surrounding area.
The white pipe coming out of the ground is the access to clean out any blockage.
Underground is another drainage pipe that leads to the flow value that leads to the drainfield.
In this picture the flow valve is being shown that controls which drain fields will be used. It is recommended by the septic inspector that one drainfield should not be used and every two years rotate the field not being used. Make sure you never block the intake pipe.
This diagram shows the distribution box where the flow valve is located.