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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
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Where to look for septic test dye breakouts: this septic system diagnostics article describes where trouble tends to show up at properties with septic systems - if the system is failing, here's where you're likely to see evidence. A visual inspection of these locations before and after a septic dye test, or a mere inspection of these locations even if no dye test is going to be performed are steps that give key information about the condition of the septic system. OUTSIDE INSPECTION described other indicators of a site where septic difficulties may be expected, even if there is not any current evidence of a failure. Anyone buying a property or owning a property and needing to assess the condition of the septic system should consider this easy procedure.
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Simply paying attention to a building site's shape and other visual clues can give critically important information. 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. Use of this information at other websites is prohibited; reproduction in electronic or printed form is prohibited.
Understanding the Site Can Point to Areas of Risk of Septic System Failure
Arlene Puentes has pointed out that a septic inspection for failure spots starts with an examination of the whole building site, considering its size, terrain, neighbors, rocks, streams, etc.
Based on property size alone, a very tiny building site should raise an alarm about what septic components could possibly fit and work in the available space. Add considerations of property age and soil conditions and the septic system story may become yet more clear.
Puentes reports inspecting a property with a tiny lot, a deck built over the entire back yard, and not much space for a septic tank and drainfield. Starting a normal septic loading and dye test (septic dye placed into the system through a toilet) she soon found water, but not dyed effluent, running out from under the deck.
Placing some dye tablets into a bathtub drain she discovered that all building graywater was directed not into the septic tank but onto the ground surface under the deck. Puentes continued to test the septic tank and drainfield by simply forcing the building toilet to run continuously to place water into that system. In minutes a sewer odor dominated the deck area.
Common but illegal effluent discharge pipes: Some "repairs" to a failed septic system are made by simply running a hidden pipe to a nearby pond, stream, or public storm drain. If there is a nearby common improper pipe target or an unexplained pipe sticking out of a bank, have someone watch this area from the moment dye is placed in the system since if there is a direct drain carrying effluent to such an improper (and illegal) destination, the dyed effluent may pass by quickly.
Streams, ponds, storm drains: These are common illegal septic effluent discharge targets, especially at sites with limited space, remote country properties, wet areas, and old properties. Look at near by streams, ponds, wet areas that were present before the test. Warning: If you're looking in a nearby stream or storm drain, watch or have someone watch this area from the moment dye is placed in the system.
Some "repairs" to a failed septic system are made by simply running a hidden pipe to a nearby pond, stream, or public storm drain. If there is a free-running pipe carrying effluent to an illegal destination it may flow so easily and quickly that your dye may pass by in just a few minutes, so watch suspect areas closely early in the test as well as throughout.
Examine low areas near the septic drainfield, soggy areas, areas of dense or lush vegetation, edges of mound systems, and any nearby pond, stream, storm drain, or other surface drainage systems for signs of leakage or dye. Leaf and brush piles or grass clippings are often piled atop "trouble spots" where there has been a history of septic problems and breakout.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books