If a home doesn’t operate off of a public sewer facility, then a private in-ground wastewater treatment system is used to treat and dispose of household wastewater on-site.
In Maryland, approximately 20 percent of homeowners rely on a private septic system. When purchasing a home that relies on a private septic system, it is of utmost importance to have the septic system tested, as it is one of the single most expensive replacement systems a homeowner will face.
Septic inspections range in price from $325-400, and include:
· Locating the septic system tank, distribution box and drainfield—inspection companies will contact the county office for a copy of the septic report on file for a particular property.
· Ensuring that the system is large enough for the home it serves. For example, a 3 bedroom home typically requires a 1000 gallon tank. Capacity in gallons can be calculated by length x width x depth in feet x 7.5 for rectangular tanks.
· Checking the tank and distribution box condition, and baffles are checked to make sure they are firmly connected to the tank’s inlet and outlet pipes.
· Drain lines are tested, sometimes called a surge test, to determine the functionality of the drainfield. Cameras can also be used to determine the health of a drainfield. Drain lines can also be “jetted” to help clear any clogs.
In order to inspect a private septic system, the inspector must first locate the system. In newer systems, this is not a problem as county records are more complete and newer systems have a riser above ground to show its location. But in older systems, the the inspector might help locate the system by using a metal rod to probe an area, a metal detector to locate the tank, or a small radio transmitter can be flushed down the toilet and followed with a receiver. Also, not surprisingly, the greenest grass in the yard is most times right above the septic system.