Septic Inspections

FTL Labs is certified to perform septic inspections in the state of Maryland.

This is most common during a real estate transfer, however if your septic system is old, then it might be a good idea to test whenever you have your tank pumped.

What does our septic inspection entail?

  1. A file search of governmental records to determine if the system was put in under permit, if there have been any modifications or repairs to the system, or if any problems with the system have been documented.
  2. An owner/tenant interview to find out and document what the residents know about the system and what their experience with the system has been. (e.g., Is the system currently in use or, if not, how long has the residence been vacant? How many people are using it? Have they had any problems? Have they had the system pumped? Have they had any repairs performed? Were they done under permit?)
  3. An onsite field inspection of the system that includes introducing water and fluorescent dyes into the system, opening the tank, pumping out the contents, examining the tank for design, contents (scum, sludge, depth, etc.), integrity, and presence of baffles. The drain field is evaluated for its ability to accept effluent properly.
  4. Preparation of a report of findings that discusses and documents all of the above.

How a Septic Tank Works

The septic tank removes solids by holding wastewater in the tank, allowing solids time to settle to the bottom and scums (greases, fats, and other light weight materials) to float to the top.

In addition to removing solids, the septic tank permits decomposition of some of the solids by bacterial and chemical action and stores the undigested portion. Up to 50 percent of the solids retained in the tank decompose naturally by bacterial and chemical action.

Biological and chemical additives are not needed or recommended to aid or accelerate decomposition. They can result in degradation of the drainage field.

When to Pump the Tank

As a rule of thumb, a septic tank should be pumped every 3-5 years. However, the actual frequency of pumping for an individual household depends on several factors:

  1. capacity of the tank
  2. flow of wastewater (related to size of household)
  3. volume of solids (more solids are produced if a garbage disposal is used)
How to Pump the Tank

Rely only on certified licensed professionals. It is a good idea to observe the pumpout process.

  1. The septic tank should be pumped out through the large access port, usually located near the center of the tank. If the tank has a 6 inch PVC access pipe, this should not be used because it does not permit adequate cleaning or inspection of the tank.
  2. It is not necessary to use any type of chemical cleaner.
  3. Before closing the tank, the pump-out contractor should check the condition of the baffles or tees. If they are missing or deteriorated, they should be repaired or replaced. The outlet baffle is particularly crucial.
Precautions

It is never necessary to enter a septic tank. Any work to replace baffles or tees should be made from the outside. When working on a septic tank, make sure the area is well ventilated and that someone is standing by.  (Toxic gases may be present produced by bacterial and chemical action in the tank.)

To facilitate future pump outs, mark the location of the tank so you can easily locate it again. If the tank is covered by more than 18 inches of soil, consider installing a “riser” to facilitate future access.

Resources

Interpretation Of Results

Interpretation Of Results

ABBREVIATIONS MCL stands for “Maximum Contaminant Level”.  It is the highest level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water.  MCL’s are EPA enforceable standards.  EPA has also published non-enforceable guideline levels for contaminants causing cosmetic problems...

read more
Tips for Homeowners: Wells and Well Water

Tips for Homeowners: Wells and Well Water

WELL ANATOMY All wells must be constructed by licensed well drillers in accordance with state regulations. The well must pass inspection and the water should be certified as potable (drinkable) by the health department before the well can be used. The components of a...

read more
Tips for Homeowners: Iron Bacteria

Tips for Homeowners: Iron Bacteria

What are iron bacteria? Iron bacteria are widespread in the environment. They will generally be found in iron water pipes and anywhere else that a combination of dissolved iron and dissolved oxygen is present. Iron bacteria are found in soil, stream, cool surface...

read more
Tips for Homeowners: Gasoline Contamination

Tips for Homeowners: Gasoline Contamination

Question: How can gasoline enter my well water? Answer: Over the past fifty years, many buried gasoline tanks have been abandoned or not properly monitored and are now leaking gasoline into the environment. Unfortunately, once gasoline or fuel oil is lost from the...

read more
Tips for Homeowners: Chlorinating a Well

Tips for Homeowners: Chlorinating a Well

The Frederick County Health Department supplies the following information to citizens whose well water is contaminated. The department recommends the following procedure for chlorinating a contaminated well. Before treatment, turn off the pump breaker before removing...

read more

Contact Us