Dye Test vs. Full & Proper Septic Evaluation

So the buyer or lender is requiring an inspection of the property's On-Lot Septic System. There are many options and companies that offer a wide range on evaluation services. Mainly you are confronted with two choices / options:

Dye Test – If you or the buyer merely want a piece of paper to satisfy the lenders requirement, and are not interested in the true condition of the various aspects of the on-lot septic system then Hancock Home Inspections recommends you contact a company that offers just a dye test. It is important to understand that this will potentially open up all parties to a litigious situation. A dye test only offers no condition findings for the tank, potentially the drain field, size info, etc. etc. In fact a system that is FAILING can pass a dye test. EX. If the tank has a hole in the bottom of it all the liquid that is run will merely seep into the ground and not surface. Thus the system passes a dye test but in actuality needs a new tank. (scary thought)

A dye test only can also fail an entire system that needs a simple repair. EX. A broken distribution line would allow dye to surface thus failing a system when in actuality all it needed is a simple repair to the line. (another scary thought) So why would anyone want just a dye test. Because it is simpler and easier to schedule, conduct and less expensive.

Full PSMA Septic – If you or the buyer really want to know the true condition of the on-lot septic system, then a full system review should be conducted. The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association (PSMA) is the only agency that provides protocols and standards for evaluating on-lot septic systems. These detailed inspections include a review of all tanks, baffles, liquid levels, absorption areas, pumps, electrical components, alarms, etc. etc. These evaluations also require more effort and time for all parties involved. In order to conduct these thorough evaluations the tank's manhole cover must be uncovered. (often requires digging) . The tank also must be pumped out at time of inspection in order to thoroughly evaluate its condition. Both the uncovering and cost of pumping are generally done at the seller's expense. Pumping is required even if the seller just recently had the tank pumped out.

Hancock Home Inspections understands these type evaluations are more involved and require more communication and coordination with all parties involved. And we are happy to offer these coordination services in our local area in an effort to make this process as easy as possible for all involved parties. Paperwork and confirmation info explaining ALL aspects and requirements are provided by our office in order for all parties to understand their role and responsibility in the inspection process. This coordination is essential to providing a quality service. We do just that.

So if a full PSMA type inspection is more expensive, time consuming, and detailed for all involved why would anyone want this service??. Answer: Because it provides the potential buyer with the best understanding of the systems condition of the on-lot septic system that they are purchasing. We cannot understand why any buyer would want anything less of a service and why any realtor or lender would want less for their client. Often it is just a lack of understanding the difference in the services being offered. If you would like more details on the inspection process we offer, the services we offer, or answers to any questions you may have regarding the inspection of on-lot septic systems please do not hesitate to contact our office.