What is a Septic Inspection?

A septic inspection is one of the lesser-known components of a home, because it is underground and out of sight.

It is also one of the least known components of a home inspection, because many people don’t really understand what the inspector is doing or looking for. 

Here is everything you need to know about septic inspections! 

What Is a Septic System? 

The septic system is basically composed of the septic tank, the drainfield and the soil surrounding it. 

Septic Tank

  • The septic tank, which is laid under the ground, is usually buried a couple feet away from the foundation of the home and connected by pipes to the main water and waste lines.
  • The tank separates solid waste from liquid waste & begins decomposing the solid waste, while allowing the liquid to escape into the drainfield. 


  • The liquids that are filtered out by the tank escape out of the tank and into the drainfield. 
  • The drainfield attempts to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. 


  • What isn’t absorbed by the drainfield then drains to the soil surrounding the field. 
  • The soil then naturally filters the rest of the liquid & absorbs the remaining liquid, or allows it to escape. 

When Should the Septic System be Inspected?

The septic system should be inspected regularly, because it is such a major component of how your home operates. If the septic system malfunctions, your entire home could have problems because of it. 

If you notice that your home and yard have been smelling worse than usual recently, specifically around drains and toilets, this can be a sign that your septic system is clogging. 

In addition, if your yard has soggy spots, plants vibrantly growing over the drainfield, or your sinks are draining very slowly, you might want to schedule a septic inspection

What is Assessed in a Septic Inspection?

The inspector will first do a visual inspection to see if they will need to do a full inspection or not. 

The visual inspection means that they will flush toilets and gauge the pressure of them, and run faucets to make sure they are working properly and flowing. They will also check for leaks and check the yard for water coming up out of the ground. 

If this test goes the way it should, the inspector may decide that the septic system is working correctly, but if it doesn’t, they will then perform a full test. 

The full test involves a much more extensive list of things that the inspector needs to do, including pumping the tank to check for backflow, as well as potentially digging up parts of the yard that may have excess water.