What is Septic Tank Inspection?

Jeremy Laukkonen

Septic tank inspection is a process of examining for a variety of faults and defects to determine if a unit is functioning properly. This is an essential part of septic tank maintenance. The process of septic tank inspection can determine if a tank is full, and if any of the components have stopped working or are causing trouble. A typical septic tank will include a large drain or seep field, where liquids from the tank are disposed, so this may also be inspected for proper operation. Such an inspection may be performed by the local wastewater authority, health department, or a licensed inspector, depending on the laws in the local area.

Septic tank inspection can be used to detect problems and to ensure that the tank is functioning properly.
Septic tank inspection can be used to detect problems and to ensure that the tank is functioning properly.

Contacting the local government will typically reveal how often a tank must be inspected and by whom. As laws or codes relating to septic tanks vary between differing jurisdictions, a tank in any given area may have to be inspected yearly, not at all, or at any other interval. Since each requires pumping at different intervals depending on size and use, it can be very important to follow the inspection regulations.

One of the main components of septic tank inspection is physical inspection of the waste. This is typically achieved by inserting a hollow pipe into the waste until it reaches the bottom. By examining the pipe, the inspector is often table to determine if the tank needs to be emptied and whether the solids are settling correctly. If he notices any anomalies during this portion of the inspection, it may indicate certain problems with the system.

Septic tanks generally operate through the anaerobic digestion of solid wastes by bacteria. As the solid waste settles to the bottom of a septic tank, it is broken up in an oxygen-depleted environment by bacteria. This allows the tank to hold much more waste than it would otherwise be able to. It also allows the relatively clean and odorless wastewater to enter the drain or seep field without causing the same environmental stress that solid wastes might.

If non-digestible solids, like cigarette butts, are flushed, or extensive organic matter is disposed of through a garbage disposal, the septic tank may fill prematurely. A septic tank inspection will usually turn up issues like this, allowing the tank to be pumped out before a problem develops. A properly operating and correctly-sized septic tank may go for as many as 10 to 20 years without being pumped, though it is still important to undergo regular septic tank inspection. In addition to the fact that many jurisdictions require it, the inspection can allow the tank to continue operating properly.

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