Septic System Inspection or Not?

When do I need a septic system Inspection?

  • Since 2007, State law (Chapter 246-272A-0270) requires that homeowners inspect and maintain their septic systems to ensure it is functioning properly. The longevity of your on-site septic system relies heavily on the way that you care for it. This law requires inspection;
    • Every 3 Years For Basic Gravity Septic Systems
    • Annually for Pump Systems, ATU’s and all others.
  • Any transfer of title. Sale of any real estate that contains a septic system.

Who can perform a septic System Inspection?

  • First, Inspections must be performed by a licensed septic Designer, Installer, Engineer or OSSOM Specialist (On-site sewage system operation and maintenance (OSSOM) professionals which have access online for adding information to Snohomish County septic records.

How long should a proper inspection of a septic system take?

  • Time needed will vary depending on how many components the septic system has.
  • Basic System will have a Septic tank and Drain field (2 components)
  • More complex systems could have a Septic tank, Pump tank, ATU (Alternative treatment unit), Drain field.

What are the inspectors looking for?

  • Any evidence of pre-existing problems or things that may cause problems in the future.
  • Tanks Integrity
  • Sludge and Scum levels
  • Components condition
  • Drain field ground cover
  • Reserve area condition
  • Building encroachments
  • Downspout and other drainage issues
  • Parking or driving over drain field or reserve areas.

Each system has a checklist provided by the county Health department as guidance.

What should your inspection report look like?

  • It should be a report filed with the Snohomish County Health Department.
  • It will be of public record and anyone could look it up on the County web site snohd.org

Legitimate inspections are valuable

Inspectors have to take classes, tests, pay special licensing fees and spend time inspecting, documenting and filing each report in order to provide these services. Be wary of anyone that says they will provide this service for free or as part of a pumping service.


What is not a legitimate septic system inspection?

  • Any inspection performed after the tank pumping has been done. Once the pumping has been completed, the evidence which give the inspector clues as to the systems operating condition has been removed.
  • “A look see” inspection from a Septic Pumper as to the systems condition is not enough to qualify as a septic system inspection.

This may be new to you or your realtor so don’t be fooled.

Ask questions, as each county is still developing its inspection criteria and standards.

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