Septic DD - Inspect & Pump them all?

I’m under contract to purchase a park with 22-24 septic tanks. I just got a $8000 quote to inspect and pump the tanks, which seems crazy to me and wasn’t a cost I expected.

Is this normal? How are you handling septic tank inspections? Any recommendations?

You could require in your inspection / objection process to have the seller provide certification the tanks are in good working order and have been cleaned and given a clean inspection bill of health.
And is it very important to know private sewer systems are working perfect. Think of the EPA issues if they are not.
I just got a call from a fellow park owner who is having his MHP shut down due to a faulty private sewer issue.

I know it is common practice to pump septic tanks to “inspect” them. My question is what is the objective of the inspection? That is some what retorical. Tanks only need to be water tight. At manufacturing they fill them with water and let them sit for so many hours and see if they hold water. You cannot do this while they are in use so you are left with a pump down and a flash light visual inspection. Quality of this visual is all over the map. Is the flash light bright enough, can all areas of the tank be seen, is the guy in a hurry. The large cracks and breaks are easy to see but small cracks in hard to see areas are another deal.

So, the visual inspection process seems dirty, but not difficult or too technical

I just spoke with another person who quoted me $75-$100 per tank for the inspection, but no pumping. Seems the inspection should be good and if needs to be pumped, then ask the seller to get that completed.


The inspection I do is to measure the scum and sludge layers using a core sampler. In the last month or two there are two threads where I posted a video that explains everything about how the tanks work and how to take a core sampler. The guy who made the video sells the core samplers for $100.

I had to make my own because my tanks are so deep – 16 feet from the pipe opening to the bottom. It only took about an hour to make and cost about $80. I explain it and have a photo of it in one of the other threads.

Bottom line: don’t pump until you have taken a core sample and take core samples every 6 months or so – having a pumping scheduled is pumping blind.

Also having a guy pump it without taking a core sample might hide the fact that the old owner was not pumping when he should and let the sludge layer build up to the point where it was getting into the drain fields – not good, and is something that should effect the sales price.

The other test that I know about is using a tape measurer (from the dollar store) to measure the distance from the top of the out let pipe access to the water level. Then put the tape down into the water until you can hook it on the bottom of the outlet pipe. It should be about 17" below the water level, as I remember – better check with the county inspector or a tank manufacturer.

If you can’t find the old posts about septic tanks let me know and I will dig up the info again.

HI Randy
I’ve seen that video and love it. Thanks for the additional advice here.

The $100 one seems like you wont get much of anything. Tanks are pretty straight forward but you will most likely need a professional to locate the distribution boxes and map out the drain fields. How may drain fields do you have?

Every dollar spent on due dilligence usually pays back a minimum of 10 fold. It gives peace of mind if it all checks out. If not you can use the written report from an expert to get a better price… I know its tempting to cut corners but the risk is to great.

So I found the company that’s been handling the septic tanks for the past 15 years. Would you get a 3rd party inspection still? Or get health of systems, pumping history etc from them?

Depends :slight_smile: when you talk to the company that has done the work in the last 15 yrs do they sound like a solid company? Do some digging on the company, any deq fines… law suites, if everything checks out I would use them to do the inspections. If not I would still get as much information from them, pumping history, invoices for any work… Most companies know their business and are good at what they do. If you can talk to the field guys who regularly visit the park you can get a gold mine of info. Well worth the price of an inspection just to bs with them about the park. This requires you to be present for the inspection and it really helps if you come dressed to work. Grab a shovel and help them dig up the distribution boxes or tank lids. If you show up in a suite and tie not so much info flows your way. Everyone wants to indentified with and appreciated.

1 Like