Virginia Septic System Inspections: What To Expect

Since 1987 the dedicated professionals at SES have performed thousands of septic system inspections for the sale of residential dwellings. We work closely with realtors, buyers and sellers to understand how systems work and what may need to be fixed or upgraded. Septic system inspections at the time a house is sold are not required by Virginia law but are most often a requirement of lenders and described in the real estate sales contract. In this video we outline the steps in both a standard and a comprehensive septic system inspection so you know what to expect.

Selecting the right septic inspection is critical when making such a significant investment in a home. A new septic system or repairs to older systems can cost between $2,000 and $50,000 depending on age and site conditions. You need to know what you’re getting into and the associates at SES are trained professionals licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

A comprehensive septic system inspection is always recommended. Even newer systems can have damaged components as a result of contractors, utility companies or homeowners not knowing where septic components are located. Some sellers don’t want their yard dug up for inspections and at other times the buyer and seller agree on a standard inspection. Standard inspections just don’t allow for direct visual examination of buried components leaving questions unanswered. A comprehensive inspection is highly recommended for older systems and systems where the dwelling has been under occupied or unoccupied for more than 30 days.

Every SES septic inspection begins with a review of Health Department records for your septic system. This step is not a requirement of contracts or regulations, but is critical in understanding the legality, history and capacity of the septic system. This review is included in both our standard and comprehensive inspection at no extra charge.

Then the tanks are located by probing or other means and the access port lid is uncovered or opened if there is a surface access riser.

The septic tank is emptied and inspected for leaks, decay and proper baffle Tees.

If present, we test the pump and alarms function.

We inspect any Alternative Treatment Unit or pressurized systems like drip or low pressure if present.

Then the dispersal area is probed and evaluated from the surface for evidence of even distribution and or evidence of a previous or current malfunction.

Thick vegetation, trees and other potential encumbrances are documented.

A comprehensive inspection includes uncovering and inspecting the distribution boxes if present and a video inspection of the header lines and drainfield laterals. Roots, sludge and broken or settled pipes are often found which can lead to a premature malfunction and should be corrected before causing a major problem.

Once the inspection is complete, all excavations are backfilled. Sometimes SES recommends items in need of repair be left uncovered for evaluation by the health department or a licensed designer. If this isn’t agreeable to the owner, components may have to be uncovered a second time.

Your final report, prepared by our certified operators and installers will identify if your system is functioning or malfunctioning in accordance with health department definitions. A malfunctioning system or evidence of sewage on the surface may be issued a notice of alleged violation by the health department and repairs will be required. Components in poor condition or broken but have not caused a malfunction, should be repaired under the voluntary upgrade program. A permit is required for both repairs and voluntary upgrades and all work on septic systems in Virginia must be completed by a licensed septic system installer or operator. Plumbers are not typically licensed to work on septic systems or even replace septic pumps.

Contact SES today to schedule your licensed septic system inspection, repair or voluntary upgrade. Remember at SES, our people are our difference.

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