Septic Systems

The value of inspections & testing

The main purpose of a Septic Inspection is to ensure the system is functioning properly.  

This includes a visual inspection of all the readily accessible components of the system, running water for a minimum of 30 minutes, probing the absorption area for any indications of saturations, back-ups or ponding, checking the household plumbing is connected to the septic system, and verifying the presence of proper venting.

The Septic System should not be pumped prior to the inspection so normal operating conditions exist.

It is recommended that a pumping be scheduled during the Septic Inspection. Our office notifies the Listing Agent of when this should be performed. 

When a septic pumper cannot be arranged at the time of the inspection, the inspection is still considered complete. The walls and baffles of the tank are checked by any reputable pumper each time they pump.

Septic inspections are not necessarily weather dependent. Septic systems are used in the snow and the rain. If there is still access to the residence and the system, a valid and accurate inspection can still occur. 

A vacant property isn’t under normal operating conditions. If the property is vacant, a Hydraulic Load Test is needed to provide more conclusive findings on the system.

Curious about what's happening underground? Here is a potential septic system configuration. 

Hydraulic Load Testing

What is it?

When a property is vacant for more than seven days the absorption area is no longer under normal operating condition and a hydraulic load test is necessary for a complete septic inspection.

Hydraulic Load Testing is a means to verify the absorption area can handle the estimated daily usage of water of a home.  The amount of water is dependent on the amount of bedrooms in the home.  The Pennsylvania DEP provides an estimated peak flow of 400 gallons for a 1 to 3 bedroom home and an additional 100 gallons for each additional bedroom.

This predetermined amount of water is introduced by controlled flow through a water meter into the septic system.  The liquid level of the absorption area is measured before, during and after the water has been introduced. The first day brings the system back to normal operating level. This process is repeated on the second day to verify the absorption area is draining the estimated daily fluids.

It is beneficial to use the on-site well to provide the water for a Hydraulic Load Test.  A hydraulic load test only puts the estimated normal daily usage of water into the system.  If the well is unable to deliver the normal usage of water, it indicates there are issues with the well.



Suburban has been performing Septic Inspections since shortly after we were established in 1988. At that time, there weren't any certifications available. 

Pennsylvania doesn't have a licensure or state certification for performing Septic Inspections. A group made up primarily of Septic Contractors created an association, the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association.  

Our Inspectors hold the PSMA Certifications and perform the required continuing education provided by PSMA to keep up-to-date with the latest in industry standards. 

We greatly appreciate the valuable resource that PSMA is. Things are slightly different here because we are exclusively an inspection company, not a contractor. 

Our team has designed a custom report formatting to provide clear and consistent information and we don't require pumping because in some instances it's not feasible or reasonable.  

Since we made these adjustments, our Septic Inspection Report is not officially considered a PSMA Inspection and states as such to be in compliance with their standards.

Our Inspections are performed without conflict of interest as we don't perform any maintenance, repair or replacement work.