How do I inspect my septic system myself? Or how do I know if my septic tank needs to be pumped?

The easiest way to determine the condition of your septic tank is to hire a professional experienced with septic systems. However, should you decide to inspect it yourself, follow these steps:

  • Remove the manhole cover at the inlet end of the tank.
  • Inspect the scum layer at the top of the liquid in the tank.
    • Be careful not to fall into the tank!
    • Do Not light a match near the open tank!
    • Do Not breath in significant amounts of noxious gases from the tank!
    • Tanks typically have a six foot liquid depth.
  • Use a shovel to push the scum layer away from the side of the tank to estimate its thickness.
  • If the scum layer is more than 1 foot thick, have your tank pumped immediately.
  • Replace the manhole cover and thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands and shovel.

If your leach field has inspection pipes at the end of each leach line, they can be visually inspected for pooling liquid. Accumulation of water in the leach lines is an early indication of problems. Sewage contains disease causing microorganisms! It is important to always exercise caution and good personal hygiene after any contact.

Show All Answers

1. Will additives improve the efficiency of my septic tank?
2. Should I use special chemicals (e.g. detergents) or paper products that are considered better for the system?
3. What kinds of things should never be put into the system?
4. Will the use of a garbage disposal unit adversely affect the septic system?
5. What does the accumulation of lush green vegetation over my leach field indicate?
6. In order to reduce the load on my septic system, can I divert wastewater from my washing machine or other grey water fixtures?
7. What can I do about periodic odors from my roof vents?
8. How often should my septic tank be pumped?
9. How do I inspect my septic system myself? Or how do I know if my septic tank needs to be pumped?
10. I have an alternating drain field system. How often should I alternate my leach lines?
11. Why does my plumbing seem to become sluggish during winter months or when there is increase household water use?
12. Why does the septic tank need to be cleaned and pumped?
13. How can I locate my septic tank?