Septic System Dye Testing

Septic System Dye Testing

When buying a home with a septic system it is important to obtain as many of the facts as possible about the system from the current owners. When was it pumped out last and how often? The name of the company who pumped it out. How old is the system? Location of the system. Type of tank (cement, metal, etc) and drain field. Because a home inspection is non-invasive, no excavation will be performed by your home inspector to inspect the system since 99% of its components are below grade, therefore its paramount that buyers find out as much information as possible first and foremost. Often you can also obtain additional information from the company who pumped out the tank since most companies document the type, size, general condition of the tank along with a general location of the system in relation to home.

A Septic Dye Test is a low cost, non-destructive way of testing Septic treatment systems. It is not a full evaluation of a sewage treatment system, but does provide valuable information regarding the present performance of the system. The Septic Dye Test is a “point in time test” and does not provide a guarantee of the present, or future, performance of the system.

A higher level of Septic System testing and evaluation is possible, however, those evaluations usually involve excavation to reach the Septic Tank access ports and Distribution box. It may also involve pumping out the Septic System to observe key components. The cost of these tests are substantially higher and are usually destructive to the property.
The septic dye test is suited for the evaluation of septic systems in real estate transactions as the test does not result in damage to the property and creates little disruption to the current homeowners while the test is being performed.

The Septic Dye Test is carried out by placing a harmless fluorescent dye into the waste-water in the home. In addition, a prescribed amount of water flow is placed in the homes waste system over a period of time. Visible components of the home waste system and Septic System are then observed for evidence of dye or sewage liquid waste.
At the conclusion of the test, a written report of the Septic Dye Test results is provided to the client.

What is a Septic System?
A traditional residential waste-water system, also known as a “Septic System” is a single, separate waste-water treatment system. The “Septic System” uses the onsite soil to treat small waste water flows. Most times “Septic Systems” are found where public sewers are not available, such as rural areas, However, “Septic Systems” can be found in residential areas serviced by public sewers, where the public sewers were installed after the home was originally built. While each “Septic System” is individually designed for the specific site, they are mostly based upon the same principles.

A traditional “Septic System” is made up of a septic tank, a distribution box, a drain field which provides soil absorption, connection pipes and distribution pathways. The septic holding tank provides an environment where the lighter, gray water scum and the heavier solids in the waste-water separate leaving liquid material. Primarily, the Septic Tank “holds” the heavier waste material and prevents it from reaching the drain field. In a functional Septic system, only the liquid material is carried to the drain field and thereby absorbed by the soil.

The heavier waste material, contained inside the holding tank, are in part, broken down by bacteria in the holding tank. Any remaining heavy material, (not broken down by the bacteria), is periodically, (every 2-4 years), removed or “Pumped” out of the Septic Tank by a qualified Septic Service. Treatment of the waste-water occurs in both the septic tank and the absorption field.A breakdown of the Septic System can cause sewage to back up into the house, drains to empty slowly or appear “plugged”, wet spots in the yard and or unpleasant or noxious orders in the grass or vegetation on the property just to name a few.

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