Once a septic system is installed it needs periodic care and repair to keep working properly as the waste treatment plant. Required maintenance is determined by septic tank inspection and pumping it on a regular basis. The maintenance schedule will vary in direct correlation with the size of the septic tank, how many people are using it, and the amount of water being sent to it. But for any type of tank, periodic septic tank inspections should be done along with regular pumping to keep it functioning properly.
Septic Tank Inspector
A septic tank should be inspected only by a certified inspector, usually someone who is a qualified private contractor or a member of the health department. You can contact your health department to arrange an inspection by one of their experts. Some health departments require a fee for the job; they also may refer you to the appropriate wastewater inspector if they do not have one on staff.
Locating the Septic Tank
Since a septic system is invariably installed underground, the first task of any inspection is usually to find exactly where the septic tank is located. If you have a sketch of your property layout, then you can refer to it to find the tank’s location. If not, you should use a probe to locate your septic tank. And if even the probe is not useful in finding the tank, then you may use a radio probe to find its location. A radio probe is a small object the size of a pill that is flushed down a toilet. It is tracked as it moves through the pipes and finally reaches the septic tank. A radio tracker can then be used to locate the probe’s position and thus, find the tank. You can do all of this yourself or hire a septic tank pumping company. They should be equipped with all of the necessary gizmos.
Of course, there is a fee charged for locating the septic tank. So, if you need to save money then make sure you know where your septic tank is before the septic tank inspector arrives. Not only does it save money in fees, but it also saves time. In both the cases, the septic tank will need to be uncovered for the inspection to begin. If you have a septic tank riser installed it should be no problem to access and inspect your septic tank.
Inspection using Sludge Judge
Inspection of a septic tank involves inspecting and judging the condition and status of various components, of the waste matter contained in it, and of the tank’s construction. To carry out an inspection of the solids that have accumulated in the tank, the waste inspector uses an instrument called a “Sludge Judge”. It is a hollow and long plastic pole marked in one-foot increments. It is open at the bottom, such that waste can enter from that opening when the pole is inserted in the waste, and leave a visual reference. The inspector inserts the Sludge Judge into the tank until its bottom end touches the bottom of the tank. Once it is pulled back, the inspector can see the level of various solids and other sludge by looking at the visual markings left on the pole. This allows the waste inspector to make a judgment whether the septic tank needs to be pumped.
Other Factors Considered in Septic Tank Inspection
Septic tanks are built with a variety of construction material, shapes and sizes. These different types of tanks have different components, which the inspector will inspect as required for each. The waste needs to be settled properly in a septic tank; this is accomplished by using one of two methods: tees or baffles. They reduce the speed of the wastewater coming into the tank and ensure that the environment inside the tank allows the solids to settle.
Perhaps the most important factor for any septic tank is that it remains watertight. Containing the water inside it without leaking is the determining factor in the continued functioning of a septic tank, whether it is a plastic tank, concrete, fiberglass or steel tank. The two most important reason we want leak-free septic tanks are: the groundwater must be kept out of the tank so that it does not disturb the anaerobic environment of the septic tank, and second, that the septic tank waste should not be allowed to mix with groundwater and hence pollute it. Regular septic tank inspection is one of the best ways to make sure your septic tank is performing in peak condition.