septic dye going down a toilet How to Place Septic Dye into the Plumbing System for a Septic System Loading & Dye Test

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Septic dye handling:

How to place septic dye into the plumbing system - avoiding spills, stains, and dye powder messes. How to clean up a dye mess; how to stop a toilet overflow.

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Avoid the Shouting: Don't Make an Indoor Mess with Septic Dye Powder

Fluorescent green septic dye bottle (C) Daniel Friedman

[Click to enlarge any image]

Septic System Loading and Dye Tests often requested by certain lenders, involve flushing a special dye down a toilet or other drain combined with a known quantity of water sufficient to put a working load on the absorption system.

If waste water leaks to the ground surface (an unsanitary condition indicating serious septic failure) one may find dye in that water provided the septic system is flowing at common rates.

Tips for Avoiding an Indoor Septic Dye Test Catastrophe

Watch out: Overflowing green or red septic dye into a building can create a horrible mess that is difficult to clean up. Above we already warned to be sure that the toilet flushes without overflowing before placing any septic dye into the fixture.

The mess you see on the outside of the Pylam Fluorescent Green septic dye container (left) is evidence of how difficult it is to handle septic dye powder without making a mess. But because of inadequacies of using the neater dye tablets, many inspectors still prefer to use septic dye powder.

Be careful placing septic dye powder into the toilet - do it gently and with nearby windows closed and fans off.

Septic dye powder is so very fine that it is easy to accidentally get septic dye powder dust on other building surfaces. If you do find that septic dye powder has spilled onto the toilet rim it is usually easy to wipe it off with a wad of damp toilet tissue.

If you find that dye powder has spilled onto a non-glazed tile floor you might need a dilute bleach solution to complete the cleanup. If you spilled septic dye onto a towel or drywall, good luck!

Wrapping Septic Dye into Packets to Avoid a Mess

Home inspector Arlene Puentes, agreeing that septic dye tablets can be ineffective (or you need too many) for a septic loading and dye test, uses septic dye powder. But to avoid spilling powder in the building, Puentes pre-wraps each dose of septic dye powder in a water soluble packet.

To wrap septic dye powder Puentes recommends Super Solvy™, a water soluble stabilizer used in sewing. SuperSolvy™ is a water-soluble synthetic plastic-like material used in quilting and embroidery or for other sewing applications to stiffen the fabric.

Super Solvy dissolution test (C) Daniel Friedman

It will dissolve in water. The manufacturer assures that the product is non toxic, and will dissolve in cool water in five to ten minutes.

Super Solvy dissolution test (C) Daniel Friedman

As our photographs show, we tested Super Solvy™ in the forensic laboratory, confirming that in less than 60 seconds the plastic-like material had dissolved, leaving an opaque goop in our 8 ounces of tap water.

Super Solvy dissolution test (C) Daniel Friedman

- Thanks to Arlene Puentes for providing our test sample.

Super Solvy dissolution test (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch the Toilet for Overflow during A dye Test

Watch out: We flush the toilet once BEFORE starting any septic loading & dye test, to be sure that the toilet where we are putting our dye is one that is not going to overflow.

But just in case you need to know how to immediately STOP a toilet bowl fill-up that is about to overflow, see TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY.

Inspect Indoors After Starting the Septic Dye Test

Leaky main drain line and septic dye (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: remember to inspect indoors at the plumbing fixture where septic dye was flushed, at the plumbing fixture where septic dye test water is being run (to assure no backup, overflow, or indoor flood), and also in rooms below that plumbing fixture, all the way to the building basement or crawl space.

If you fail to make an indoor inspection while running the septic loading and dye test you risk overflowing from a plumbing fixture or from a leaky drain pipe that damages the building.

The presence of septic dye in the test water may even make it easier to spot an indoor plumbing drain pipe leak, as our photo (left) demonstrated.

If you don't understand what a colorful mess an indoor septic dye test can make, take a look at this red septic dye puddle found outdoors during one of our septic tests and this green septic dye puddle found outdoors, courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.

At INSIDE SEPTIC TEST STEPS we continue with details of exactly how to conduct a septic dye test.

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