Operating Systems Home Inspection from A to Z - DVD Flash Videos

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Operating Systems Home Inspection from A to Z - DVD Videos. Real Estate Home Inspection, Appraisal, Energy Saving Home Improvements.-Operating Systems Home Inspection from A to Z - DVD Videos. Real Estate Home Inspection, Appraisal, Energy Saving Home Improvements.


Septic System

Septic System photos: P 65-P 68

The main components of a septic system consist of the drainage lines, the holding tank and the leaching fields or seepage pits.

  • The drainage lines are usually visible in the lower level of the house. These lines are slightly pitched downward to drain out into the septic system holding tank.

  • The holding tank functions as a detention tank for the sewage solids. The tank will be buried underground and the cap, which is removable for cleaning the system out, will be about one foot below the soil.

  • Leaching fields and seepage pits are used to drain the liquid wastes down into the earth. The leaching fields and seepage pits are connected to the holding tank by drainage lines. Leaching fields are found in newer construction or rehabilitated older septic systems. In some areas seepage pits and cesspools are no longer permitted because they are not as sanitary as leaching fields.

The life expectancy of a septic system is about 30 years. The lifespan of the system will depend upon the type of construction and the maintenance given it. The basic operation of a septic system is as follows:

  1. The drainage lines carry all of the liquid and solid wastes to the septic holding tank.

  2. The solid waste remains in the bottom of the holding tank. The liquid waste rises as the tank fills and is carried by drainage lines to the leaching fields or seepage pits.

  3. The liquid waste then runs through the drainage lines. These lines have perforated holes in the bottom when they reach the leaching field area of the lawn.

  4. The liquid waste goes through the holes in the bottom of the drainage pipes and follows the air pockets or voids in the soil as it moves downward.

You may come across septic systems that have an alarm which monitors an internal pump located inside the holding tank. The purpose of the internal pump is to carry the liquid waste upward to the leaching fields, to be drained away safely. A pump is required when the leaching fields are located higher in elevation than the holding tank. Therefore, the liquid waste cannot travel by gravity to be drained away. The liquid waste must be pumped to the location of the leaching fields. This is not the normal type of installation since almost all septic systems use gravity for the drainage. However, the pumps are needed on some systems due to a variety of reasons. Some reasons why a leaching field is installed higher up than the holding tank is that the property size was too small, there are excessive rocks in the soil, there are poor percolation rates in some of the soil, etc.

The alarm is installed to monitor the internal pump inside the holding tank, to make sure the pump doesn't malfunction. There is a water float in the holding tank that will trigger the alarm to go off if the water level gets too high. When the water level rises too high, then it's an indication that the pump is not operating properly and repairs are needed. You can identify the alarm by a small electrical box that's located inside the house. This box will have a red light on it and should be marked with some identification. There may be a test button on the alarm box to periodically test it for proper operation. Ask the owner if you can test the alarm during your inspection to see if it's operating properly. Don't test these alarms unless you get permission from the owner. You want to tell the client to speak to town hall and the septic installer about the septic alarm. Since they're only used for abnormal conditions, the client may find out some important information by asking questions.

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