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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Septic Test Procedure: This document describes the first step in septic testing: how to look for visual evidence of septic failure without or before testing a septic system and also difficult site conditions that may require special measures to install a working septic system.
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Looking for septic failure conditions outdoors give key information about the condition of the septic system before (and perhaps without) performing a septic loading and dye test and also before (and perhaps without) invasive septic system inspection measures such as excavation.
The septic system site observations described here can be performed regardless of whether or not a septic test is planned at a property. While visual inspections cannot directly disclose all buried hazards and problems, there are often immediately obvious and very important clues that can indicate dangerous conditions (such as the collapsing septic tank shown in our photo at left), a history of repeated repairs, septic system failures, and even dishonesty or malfeasance.
These pages are part of our SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE for testing septic system function. Technical review by industry experts has been performed and is ongoing - reviewers are listed at References. Comments and suggestions for content are welcome. Septic system FAILURE SPOTS, part of our STEP BY STEP SEPTIC TEST procedure, describes where you're likely to see actual evidence of septic failure during a septic loading and dye test.
There are often visual clues, such as the ones described here, which can be strong indicators of a history of septic system problems or of a building site which will involve special difficulties in installing an effective onsite wastewater disposal system.
These site observations can increase the property owner, seller, or buyer's understanding of the chances that significant costs are likely to be faced in providing or repairing the septic system.
Anyone buying a property or owning a property and needing to assess the condition of the septic system should consider this easy procedure. Simply paying attention to a building site's shape and other visual clues can give critically important information.
Critical site observations before starting a septic loading & dye test
Is there any visual evidence of unsafe site conditions such as subsidence, collapse, sink holes, or report of presence of a cesspool, missing or damaged tank covers (like the collapsing septic tank cover in the photo at left), or other old or site-built equipment?
If so dangerous, possibly fatal conditions could be present and it may be appropriate to rope off suspect areas and postpone any testing at all.
It is absolutely essential that any unsafe or even suspected unsafe conditions be reported to the building owner and occupants immediately - falling into a septic tank can be fatal. See SEPTIC & CESSPOOL SAFETY for details about Septic System, Septic Tank, & Cesspool Safety Warnings for Septic Inspectors, Septic Pumpers, and Homeowners
The next four septic field inspection documents ( SEPTIC FAILURE EVIDENCE, VISUAL LOOK FOR SEPTIC COMPONENTS DIFFICULT SEPTIC SITES and RECENT SEPTIC WORK as well as SEPTIC SAFETY) provide details of what you can see outdoors that indicates either a septic system that is in failure or a system that probably required special measures to deal with a difficult site, such as a steep or hilly site, a rocky site, or a septic system near a lake or stream.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Composting Toilets - Books & References
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Greywater System Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books