Having a septic system on your property is a big responsibility. Many homeowners take their septic systems for granted, assuming they will work indefinitely with little or no maintenance. However, septic systems require regular inspections and maintenance to keep them functioning properly. Ignoring your septic system puts you at risk for very costly repairs down the road.
If you’re a homeowner in Lewiston, Maine relying on a septic system, you’d be wise to schedule periodic inspections. Read on as we share five key benefits routine septic inspections Lewiston Maine homeowners.
#1 Prevent Expensive Emergency Repairs
Like other home systems, septic systems have parts that degrade over time. If you fail to get inspections, problems can go undetected until you have a full failure and sewage back-up. At that point, you’ll have no choice but to make emergency repairs that can cost thousands of dollars.
Regular maintenance visits from a certified inspector can find small issues before they become huge headaches. Catching problems early is much more affordable. For example, a simple task like having the septic tank pumped can help prevent blockages and overflows. Identifying and replacing a single cracked pipe is vastly cheaper than replacing an entire leach field. Being proactive saves you money in the long run.
#2 Extend the Life of Your System
When you get regular inspections, inspectors look for any signs of wear and damage. They can let you know if tank pumping is needed and check for cracked pipes, leaks, blockages, or damage to key components like the soil absorption field.
Doing needed maintenance prolongs the life of your whole system so you can go years without having to replace it. Sewage systems are costly investments, so keeping yours running efficiently through inspections and maintenance pays off.
Some key system components inspected include:
- Septic tank – Check for cracks, leaks, blockages, scum/sludge levels
- Distribution box – Ensure even distribution to leach field
- Drainfield pipes – Inspect condition, test for blockages
- Soil absorption field – Check for saturated soil or sewage surfacing
- Pumps/alarms – Test proper operations
- Electrical panels – Ensure floats, switches and alarms work
Proper care and feeding of your septic system means it can remain productive for decades to come rather than needing frequent replacements.
#3 Prevent Harm to the Environment
Faulty septic systems can leak sewage into groundwater supplies or other local bodies of water. This creates major health hazards and environmental damage. Routine septic inspections make leaks less likely, protecting local ecosystems as well as those who swim, fish and boat in nearby lakes, rivers and oceans. Keeping your system well-maintained prevents you from contaminating natural resources.
Specifically, leaking sewage can negatively impact the environment in these ways:
- Groundwater contamination – Raw sewage seeping into wells, aquifers or lakes used for freshwater. Can spread dangerous bacteria.
- Fish/wildlife poisoning – Toxic chemicals and nutrients overloading bodies of water leading to algae blooms and poisoning of aquatic life.
- Spread of disease – Bacteria, viruses and parasites from sewage infecting animals and people if exposed.
- Waste of limited resources – Overloading and clogging natural drainage and filtration in the soil by improper disposal of wastewater.
By maintaining your septic system through regular inspections, pumping, and repairs as needed, you do your part to keep these disastrous effects of pollution at bay. It’s one way responsible homeowners can protect the gorgeous Maine ecosystems surrounding Lewiston.
#4 Avoid Legal & Health Department Issues
In most areas, you are legally required to have your septic system inspected every 1-3 years by a licensed contractor. If you fail to comply and your system fails, you could face fines and legal action. And if your sewage leaks above ground, you may have to deal with the health department as well as angry neighbors. Don’t put yourself in the middle of an ugly legal or neighborhood dispute. Stay on top of inspections.
Specifically in Lewiston, Maine, septic inspections and pumping are mandated under the Protective Plumbing Code enforced by the Lewiston Water & Sewer Division. Homeowners must obtain a licensed septic inspector’s report every five years at minimum. Failure to comply can result in fines until requirements are met.
Beyond legal repercussions, you also want to avoid the nightmare scenario of raw sewage backing up into your home or bubbling up in your yard. The clean-up process for a widespread failure is lengthy, disruptive, and expensive. And it poses health risks for your family and community. Stay in compliance with septic system regulations to avoid serious issues down the road.
#5 Keep Your Home & Yard Safe
If your septic system backs up, you’ll have raw sewage flooding your yard or even your home if it comes up through drains and toilets. This nightmare scenario damages your house, ruins furnishings and carpet, and creates a major cleanup job.
Worse, exposed raw sewage, contaminated soil and standing water put your family’s health at risk. Diseases from bacteria, viruses, and parasites in human waste can cause severe infections and illness if exposed.
Routine septic system maintenance keeps your home and yard clean and safe for your family. And it protects any neighbors nearby who could also experience well water contamination or unpleasant odors from a failing system.
In summary, the top 5 benefits of regular septic inspections for Lewiston homeowners are:
- Preventing expensive emergency repairs
- Extending the lifespan of your entire system
- Protecting the environment from pollution
- Avoiding legal issues and health code violations
- Keeping your home and yard safe for your family
When to Get Septic Inspections
Most experts recommend septic system inspections every 1 to 3 years. Some signs that signal it’s time for an inspection include:
- Slow draining toilets or drains
- Gurgling sounds from plumbing
- Plumbing backups
- Wet spots or foul odors in the yard
- Grass growing faster over the drainfield
- Issues discovered during home renovations or additions
Contact a certified septic inspector if you notice any of these warning signs. Don’t ignore them and hope the issues resolve themselves. That never works out well!
The specific guidelines for inspection frequency in Lewiston are:
- Standard septic systems – Inspect every 5 years
- Advanced treatment systems – Inspect annually
- New septic system installations – Inspect 6 months after installation
- Property transfer – Inspect whenever sold or ownership changes
Mark your calendar to schedule inspections accordingly, whether it’s every year or every 5 years. Consistency is key. Brief annual checks may also supplement full inspections.
What’s Checked During a Septic Inspection?
When you hire a professional septic inspector, they will come out and complete a detailed evaluation of your entire system. The inspection checklist includes:
1. Locating the System Components
- Finding the septic tank and exposing it for inspection.
- Uncovering the distribution box.
- Identifying the drain field/leach field location.
2. Septic Tank Inspection
- Checking for leaks, damage or cracks.
- Measuring scum and sludge accumulation.
- Identifying any blockages or pumping needs.
3. Distribution Box Evaluation
- Checking for level position, ensuring even flow to all lines.
- Making sure pipes are properly aligned and connected.
4. Drainfield Assessment
- Probing pipes for obstructions or damage.
- Looking for wet spots, leaks, or surface breakouts.
- Inspecting the drainfield for overgrowth of grass.
5. System Function Tests
- Flushing dyed water and observing flow through the system.
- Evaluating drainage and backup when sinks, tubs and toilets drain.
6. Advanced System Checks
- Electrical panels, pumps, aerators, chlorinators, alarms, as applicable.
The inspector will provide a detailed report on the condition of your system and any repairs needed. They can answer questions and advise you when to schedule the next inspection.
DIY Inspection Dangers
With the right tools, you can do a basic inspection yourself. However, septic systems contain dangerous gasses, contaminated materials, and electrical parts. Unless you have training and experience, you risk injury, exposure to disease, or even death from a DIY inspection gone wrong.
Dangers of do-it-yourself septic inspection include:
- Asphyxiation from toxic sewer gasses – Hydrogen sulfide and methane can be deadly.
- Chemical burns from harsh liquids like chlorine bleach or septic additives.
- Electrocution from pumps, aerators, lights, or exposed wires.
- Drowning in a tank, especially if you enter it.
- Exposure to hepatitis, E. coli, parasites, and other pathogens.
- Injury from ladders, heavy concrete lids, or digging.
- Getting a vehicle stuck if driving over the drainfield.
Unless you have professional training and equipment, DO NOT attempt to inspect your own system. Always leave full septic inspection to the experts. Trying to cut costs is not worth your life.
How Much Do Septic Inspections Cost?
Septic inspection costs vary depending on your location and the size of your system. The average nationwide cost ranges from $75 – $250. In the Lewiston, Maine region, expect to pay $125 – $175 for a standard inspection. More complex systems with pumps and electrical parts may range $175 – $300+.
Keep in mind you only pay these costs once every few years. It’s a small price for the peace of mind and money saved on emergency repairs. Here are some pricing factors:
- System complexity – More components means higher inspection fees.
- Specialist equipment needed – Cameras, dye tests, etc. add costs.
- Site accessibility – Tight spaces or digging needed may increase price.
- Region/inspector – Pricing varies, so compare service providers.
- Add-ons – Optional items like septic tank pumping during inspection.
- Frequency – Some inspectors offer package pricing for annual service vs. a one-time visit.
Even at the high end of $300, that’s quite reasonable for the detailed analysis and expert consultation septic inspectors provide. Protecting your huge investment in your home and preventing pollution of the environment are worth the nominal inspection fee every few years.
Find Septic Inspectors Near Lewiston, Maine
If you’re a homeowner in Lewiston who needs septic inspections, several companies offer this service:
- A-1 Affordable Septic Service
- Poirier’s Wastewater Services
- Aqua-Maine, Inc.
- Northeast Wastewater Treatment Systems
- Lewiston Septic Experts
Look for licensed septic professionals who are local, experienced, and have great customer reviews. Make sure they employ certified Wastewater Treatment System Inspectors licensed in Maine. They should inspect systems thoroughly and provide detailed reports with photos documenting any issues found.
Ask questions up front to understand what’s included in their inspection packages and pricing to avoid surprise fees. Also find out what their repair capabilities are in case they discover any needed fixes.
Some key questions to ask potential septic inspectors:
- Are you licensed and certified for septic inspections in Lewiston/Maine?
- How long have you been inspecting systems in this area?
- What exactly does your inspection process entail?
- How long does a typical inspection take?
- How soon after inspection will I receive a report?
- What type of repairs can you handle if issues are found?
- Do you offer any kind of warranty on inspections?
- Can I see samples of previous inspection reports you’ve done?
- What are your pricing and payment terms?
Taking time to find the right fit ensures a thorough inspection experience. This gets your system off on the right foot with routine maintenance.
Septic Pumping Tips
An important part of septic system maintenance is periodic septic tank pumping. This removes the sludge and scum that builds up over time, preventing overflows into the leach field. During inspections, the inspector will advise you if pumping is needed.
Here are some key tips for septic tank pumping:
- Inspect and pump every 3-5 years. Systems serving many people may need it more often.
- Best to pump in spring or fall, avoiding extremes of winter and summer.
- Hire a licensed septic contractor rather than attempting to pump yourself.
- When pumped, inspect the tank for cracks or damage needing repair.
- Don’t use septic tank additives. They don’t help and can damage your system.
- Keep records of when your system was last pumped and inspected.
- If you see signs like slow drainage, it’s time to have the tank pumped.
- Expect to pay $175 – $300+ for septic pumping, depending on tank size.
Professional attention to both inspections and pumping keeps your system running smoothly for decades. Never take your septic system for granted. Give it the same care and maintenance you dedicate to other home systems.
Love Your Septic By Getting Regular Inspections
If you’re one of the many homeowners in Lewiston, Maine relying on an underground septic system, be sure to show it some love. Take the time to learn about how septic systems work and what they require. Commit to having your system inspected by a certified professional on a regular basis.
Ongoing septic system maintenance protects your home investment, prevents ecological contamination, and saves you money over the long haul. And it avoids the headaches and health hazards of a malfunctioning system. Love your septic – get those routine inspections scheduled today!