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Certified Professional Home Inspector 

Lee Shaw

Septic Inspection

Nearly one in four households in the United States depends on an onsite septic system or small community system to treat wastewater.

In a typical septic system, there are three components: the treatment tank, the distribution system and the absorption field or more commonly know in our area as a leach field.

The difference between a functional system and a failed system is the implementation of an effective wastewater maintenance and inspection program.

Avoid Liability Issues

The septic system should be inspected once a year, including and especially as soon as the house is put on the market for sale.  This will enhance the home’s value and avoid any liability issues that might result from a system malfunction.  Plus, any issues with the septic system can be resolved prior to potential buyer’s involvement giving your home a better first impression.

If the system has not been inspected lately it is in the best interest of a prospective buyer to have the septic system inspected before the home purchase.

Look For

First, if possible, we want to know the date the tank was last pumped because knowing previous pumping dates can be helpful.  The sludge level usually determines when the tank should be pumped.

So, the sludge level is measured and if accumulations on the tank bottom equal more than 1/3 of the tank’s total volume or rise to the level of the baffles then the tank needs pumped.

We inspect the interior plumbing system of the house when performing an inspection of the onsite wastewater treatment system.

We also check the distance of the septic tank and leach field from wells and streams.

We observe if there is any growth, especially trees, on or near the leach field.  Tree roots will grow into the lateral lines quickly clogging them requiring costly repair cost.  I know this first hand, I dug up a distribution pipe and found it had over ten feet of roots completely clogging the line.  Only grass should be planted above the septic tank and leach field.

We notice indications of any vehicles crossing the leach field causing damage.  Vehicles should not be driven on or near the leach field.  Their weight can unknowingly damage the underground distribution piping system.

We insure that the system is large enough for the home and the number of current or future occupants.

We’re looking for liquid waste that has made its way to the ground surface.  This condition is unsanitary and indicates that the system is overloaded or there is a malfunction of the distribution system.  Like a root filled drain line blocking equal distribution.

A patch of lush green grass could be a sign of a malfunctioning system.

Drain lines should each receive the same amount of wastewater. By equally distributing the waste water the leach fields life is prolonged.

This equal distributing can be determined by opening and examining the distribution box or boxes. If the distribution box becomes tipped, clogged or was improperly installed it will disproportionately allocate waste water, and potentially flood sections of the leach field.

We want to make sure that the tank is watertight so that wastewater does not contaminate groundwater, and groundwater does not flow into the tank causing the septic system to be overburdened. 

We check any risers for cracks and make sure they are secure.

If there are any baffles we check their physical condition and that they are firmly connected.

We are checking that any water drainage from rainwater, sump pumps, or any surface water is diverted away from the leach field.  An over-saturated drain field can slow the absorption of the water treatment process and cause back up of plumbing fixtures. 

Simple Steps

We recommend fixing any leaky faucets or toilets and avoid using the garbage disposal. These are simple steps to increase the life of the septic system.

A septic System inspection is outside the scope of a Standard Home Inspection and requires special training so … Hire .. Home is Right.

Septic Systems are Dangerous

Septic systems are designed to handle dangerous waste and can pose serious health hazards to homeowners and inspectors.

When they are properly designed, constructed and maintained septic systems effectively reduce or eliminate most human health or environmental threats posed by pollutants in household wastewater. 

A septic system inspections should be performed on an annual basis to ensure proper function. The septic tank is the most expensive household fixture and its lifespan will be shortened significantly if it is not maintained. 

A Small Investment

In summary, septic system inspections should be performed on an annual basis to ensure proper function.  The septic tank is the most expensive household fixture and its lifespan will be shortened significantly if is is not maintained.  A small investment now may save you thousands later.


A typical septic inspection is NOT:

  1.  A warranty or guarantee that the system will properly function for any period of time in the future; and
  2. A certification of the system’s installation or performance.

Serving McAlester, Muskogee, Eufaula, Checotah, Hartshorne, Wilburton, Krebs, Savanna, Kiowa, Stuart, Atoka, Antlers, Poteau, Ada, Seminole, Henryetta, Okmulgee, Stigler and the surrounding communties  within a 75 mile radius of McAlester, OK

Home Is Right – PO Box 886, McAlester, OK 74502 – Phone 918-420-9669

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