Know what needs to be included in a septic inspection. A septic system is often considered to be one of the most expensive appliances that comes with a home. It is also one of the most unfamiliar appliances to a lot of new and prospective home buyers. If you are considering buying a home on a septic, you should be sure to familiarize yourself with what that means and what your responsibilities are. Septic repairs are not cheap. They often require getting the local health department involved and can even involve hiring an engineer. Too often homeowners buy a property with a septic system only to discover days in that it is failed and needs replaced.


Our septic inspections in Harford County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, and Anne Arundel County follow the full set of guidelines set by the Maryland Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association regarding septic inspections. When purchasing a septic inspection, be sure to hire a qualified septic inspector who makes sure the system is working properly. A thorough, in-depth inspection must be completed to see that everything is working. A simple glance around will not tell you anything.


A septic inspection consists of a four step process to evaluate the condition of a septic system. Septic inspections are used for many occasions, but most commonly they are for real estate transactions. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) also recommends yearly septic inspections on any system you own to make sure it is always functioning at it’s fullest capability.


A thorough septic inspection is made up of the following four main steps:

  • A File Search
  • A Homeowner or Occupant Interview
  • A Site and System Evaluation and Inspection
  • A Finalized, Company-Certified, Written Inspection Report


When signing up for a septic inspection, always be sure to ask if the above steps are included in the price. Call Chavis Septic Services at 410-838-1200 to set up septic inspections in Harford County, Baltimore County, Carroll County or Cecil County, Maryland, as well as York County, Pennsylvania. You can be sure we include all of this in your septic inspection.

Do not confuse a septic inspection with an Operation & Maintenance Service Contract for Best Available Technology Systems (BATs). To learn more about that, click here.


STEP ONE: File Search

When a septic inspection is requested, the first thing Chavis Septic Services does is locate property records and any archival information the county may have on the property to aid in the inspection. This type of information is normally found at the local health department or other local environmental agencies. It is highly helpful to have this, as it helps locate where the septic is located on the property as well as detailing repairs that have been made to it in the past. It also includes other information such as the system’s age, design, historical info, soil types, and percolation results. While all information may not be available for all properties, it is generally a good starting point to locating the system and its components.

STEP Two: Homeowner Interview

A homeowner interview is an important step that can reveal information about a septic system that only a resident that lives there can tell. By asking a few questions, you may be able to give some important information pertaining to the system’s past or present performance. It is important to state how many people are currently living in the house (if any), and if there are any businesses run from home that may influence waste water usage (barber shop, daycare, consultant, etc.).

STEP Three: System Evaluation

The most important step of a septic inspection is the actual on-site evaluation of the septic system. This reveals if performance of the system is operating at its expected level, and if components of the system are maintaining their structural integrity. Every accessible component of the system will be inspected to be sure it is fully operational. This includes the interior sides of the tank, the inlet and outlet pipes, the inlet and outlet baffles, any manhole risers and their connections, and other components accessible from the surface of the ground. A hydraulic load test is conducted to determine if the absorption system can handle a significant load of water at once, simulating an event like getting a shower and washing the laundry at the same time. Depending on the results of an inspection, a system can be marked as either “acceptable”, “unacceptable”, or “needs further evaluation”.

A tank should NEVER be pumped BEFORE an inspection. This makes it impossible to evaluate the water level in the tank and more difficult to conduct a hydraulic load test. A tank DOES need to be pumped DURING an inspection to further evaluate the tank, but only after certain observations are made beforehand.

STEP Four: Final Report

A septic inspection always comes with a final written report that includes all the information gathered throughout the file search, occupant interview, and system evaluation.

It should include, at minimum:

  • Address of property
  • Previous property records found
  • Current occupancy
  • Type of septic tank, and all its components
  • Condition of septic tank and all its components
  • Type of absorption field present
  • Any visual problems or concerns
  • Sketch drawing of the OSDS and surrounding landmarks
  • Comments/ Conclusion section

If you need a septic inspection in Harford County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, or Cecil County, Maryland, as well as York County and Chester County in Pennsylvania, be sure to call Chavis Septic Services at 410-838-1200 to schedule!

Buying or Selling a Home on a Septic System?

A properly designed, installed, and maintained septic system can be very efficient at handling its job. If you are looking at buying or selling a home on an onsite sewage disposal system, do not let the septic dissuade you. Despite popular belief, septic systems can provide a very reliable way to dispose of sewage. The problems arise when systems are not properly maintained and systems that have aged.