If you’re a homeowner with a septic system, regular Septic Inspections are incredibly important. But why exactly should you get your septic system inspected on a regular basis? What are the benefits? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about septic system inspections.

What is a Septic System?

First, let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a septic system? A septic system is an onsite wastewater treatment system that uses a septic tank and drain field to treat and dispose of household wastewater.

Here’s how it works:

  • All the wastewater from your home (from sinks, showers, toilets, etc) flows into the septic tank.
  • The septic tank is a buried, watertight container that provides primary treatment of wastewater by separating solids from liquid.
  • In the tank, heavier solids settle to the bottom forming sludge, while grease and lighter solids float to the top as scum.
  • The wastewater exits the tank into the drain field, which is a series of trenches or a bed lined with gravel and buried underground.
  • In the drain field, further treatment occurs as liquid is filtered through soil, which removes harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.
  • Finally, the treated water is absorbed into the surrounding soil.

So in short, septic systems provide an effective and environmentally-friendly way to treat and dispose of wastewater in areas without access to municipal sewer systems.

How Often Should Inspections Occur?

Experts typically recommend getting your septic inspections system inspected annually. Annual inspections allow you to catch any issues before major damage occurs. Some additional guidelines:

  • For newer systems, annual inspections are recommended after the first year of use.
  • Older systems may need biennial inspections every six months.
  • Inspections should occur more frequently if you notice any signs of trouble.

Inspections are usually scheduled in late summer/early fall when the groundwater table is at its lowest. Systems should be checked after long periods of heavy rainfall as well.

Besides annual inspections, pumping your septic tank is also critical. Septic tanks should be pumped every 3-5 years depending on tank size and household size. Regular pumping helps prevent sludge and scum from building up too much in the tank.

Many homeowners choose to have inspections and pumping done together for convenience. Reputable septic companies can handle both during a single visit.

What Does a Septic System Inspection Involve?

A professional septic inspection involves carefully examining all parts of your system to check for proper operation. Here are some key things an inspector will do:

  • Locate system components – An inspector will locate your septic tank, drain field, distribution box, and all connecting pipes. Buried tanks are accessed through manhole covers.
  • Uncover access points – Inspectors will uncover and open any manhole covers, inspection ports, and distribution boxes to access the system.
  • Check for leaks – Your tank and pipes will be checked for any cracks or leaks, either visually or by using a dye test. Signs of leakage include foul odors, saturated soil, or surfacing sewage.
  • Measure sludge and scum – Sludge and scum accumulation in the tank will be measured using specialized tools. Too much buildup can impede flow or cause clogging.
  • Assess drain field – The condition of your drain field will be checked for ponding, odors, or surfacing sewage which indicate clogging. Soil percolation tests may be conducted.
  • Identify any issues – The inspector will diagnose any issues and recommend necessary repairs, pumping, or replacement if components are damaged.
  • Provide a written report – You’ll receive a detailed inspection report explaining system condition, any issues found, and recommended actions.

Reputable inspectors use high-tech tools like septic cameras to thoroughly evaluate the condition of tanks, pipes, and drain fields without excessive digging.

Signs Your Septic System Needs Inspection

Besides adhering to a regular inspection schedule, you should call a septic pro right away if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  • Slow draining sinks, tubs, or toilets
  • Gurgling sounds from plumbing
  • Plumbing backups and clogs
  • Sewage odors indoors or outdoors
  • Wet, spongy soil over the drain field
  • Standing water or sewage pooling over the drain field
  • Lush, fast growing vegetation over the drain field
  • Testing shows bacteria or nitrates in well water
  • Septic tank rarely pumped

Any of these signs indicate your septic system is likely failing and needs immediate attention to prevent hazardous spills and pollution. Don’t ignore the signs – call a professional inspector right away!

Septic System Replacement

If your septic tank or drain field is severely damaged and repairs are no longer feasible, complete system replacement may be required. Typical signs that your entire septic system needs replacement include:

  • Collapsing, cracked, or severely corroded septic tank
  • Drain field refusal even right after pumping
  • Inability to uncover drain field due to excessive soil saturation
  • Wastewater surfacing in yard even with minimal water use
  • Failed soil percolation tests
  • Contaminants detected in well water or nearby surface waters

Septic system replacement costs between $3,000-$15,000+ on average depending on size, components, site conditions, permits, and labor.


Replacement should always be done by an experienced, licensed septic installation contractor. Be sure to get multiple quotes. Many states also offer low-interest financing programs to help homeowners afford major septic repairs or replacement.

While certainly a major, unwanted expense, replacing a severely damaged septic system protects your family’s health, avoids pollution, and prevents even more costly repairs down the road.


If you rely on a septic system to treat your household wastewater, annual inspections and proper maintenance are absolutely critical to keep your system functioning safely for many years to come.

Preventing septic system failure through regular Septic Inspections provides huge peace of mind by protecting your family’s health, avoiding environmental pollution, and preventing costly repair bills down the road.

Be diligent in watching for any signs of trouble and contact septic professionals immediately if you have any concerns. With proper care and maintenance, your septic system should provide trouble-free wastewater treatment for decades. Protect your investment – get your septic system inspected annually!

Spread the love