Eco-Safe Wastewater Technologies is happy to provide a list of commonly asked questions that you might have about OSSF (On-Site Sewage Facilities). We frequently update our site with new questions and answers to better serve our valued customers.
- Inspect the interior of tank (tank must be pumped out during the inspection).
- Activate the pump and high water alarm.
- Pump to all disposal fields.
- Walk over the disposal fields.
- Check inspection ports in the disposal fields.
- Inspect site hole dug in the disposal field (required for older disposal fields).
- Inspect for greywater discharge and evidence of lateral migration of effluent from the facility.
Many mortgage companies, informed buyers, and state and/or local agencies require that the OSSF (“septic” or “septic tank system”) be inspected prior to closing.
As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention…” The cost of an OSSF inspection and/or maintenance agreement is a fraction of the cost of repairing or replacing a system. A new OSSF in Travis County costs an average of $12,000.00. The average cost increases as you move into the limestone hills west of Austin. A malfunctioning OSSF can be an inconvenience as well as a health hazard.
There are currently no requirements that a “septic inspector” be certified with any governmental agency and inspections at resale are not regulated by any governmental agency. However, it is in your best interest use a Registered Sanitarian. Given that inspections offered range from a simple “walkover” (usually performed without benefit of any documentation about the specific OSSF) to thorough inspections which cover the functioning status and the regulatory status of the OSSF, leveraging the knowledge, experience, and training of a Registered Sanitarian will result in a more accurate and thorough inspection.
In preparation for a septic inspection the septic tanks should be located and the access ports for each tank should be uncovered. This will include any access ports to tank compartments as some OSSF have multiple compartments within a single tank. Access ports are small lids (usually 12 to 18 inches across) located within the larger lid. These access ports are designed to permit easy access and cleaning of the tank. Since the tank(s) need to be pumped during the inspection, most people will let the septic pump service uncover the tanks for them. In the case of an older OSSF, it may be necessary to locate the disposal field.
Generally speaking, the local agency responsible for wastewater systems within your area should have records of your OSSF Jurisdiction is determined by the property address. You can contact the agency directly or request that your Registered Sanitarian contact them on your behalf. In the case of an older OSSF, the agency may not have records. Please feel free to contact our office for contact information on a specific agency.
Am I required to have a septic tank system inspection if I am buying or selling a house? If so, is this a state, county, or city requirement?
The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is currently the only agency in Central Texas that requires re-inspection at resale. If the house is in L.C.R.A.’s jurisdiction, an application for re-licensing must be submitted to L.C.R.A. and they will have one of their inspectors perform the inspection. Some of the other agencies (for example, Hays County and Williamson County) provide resale re-inspections as a service, but do not require them.
The high-water alarm activates if the effluent level in the pump tank rises too high. This can be a result of the failure of the pump to come on, or because it is on, but is not successfully pumping the effluent out to the disposal field. There are several steps that you can try to remedy the problem. First, make sure that the pump is plugged in. Second, make sure the breaker is “on.” Next, plug the pump directly in to a power outlet (usually, the pump plugs into the float switch, which plugs into the electric outlet). If the alarm goes off, then the problem is with the float switch. DO NOT leave the pump plugged directly in as this can cause the pump to burn up! Call our office for recommendations for a contractor to make repairs. Depending on the type of OSSF, you may be able to alternate the disposal field.
The first step is to make sure that there is not a “dry drain” in one of your sink or showers. A “dry drain” can allow gases from your septic system to enter your home. Try running water in the sink or shower for several minutes to eliminate “dry drain”. If the odor persists, contact your plumber or call our office for assistance.
Septic odors outside can come from a variety of sources. First, try to determine where the odor is originating (e.g., your leach field and/or vent, your neighbor’s yard, etc.). After determining that the source is located within your property, contact our office and we will assist you in diagnosing the problem.