Special Conditions

Standard septic system inspections are designed to evaluate how well a system is performing at the time of the inspection. However, some conditions make it difficult or impossible to properly evaluate the performance of a septic system.

They include:
  1. Structures that have been vacant for more than 7 days (except new systems used for less than 30 days)
  2. New water sources being directed to the system within the last 30 days
  3. Soil fracturing activity within the last 30 days
There are also cases where the system performance is marginal and further testing is needed to reach a conclusion.

They include:
  1. Subsurface gravity absorption systems with less than 5 inches of dry aggregate but not flooded to the full depth of the aggregate.
  2. There is less than 24 hours volume capacity in a cesspool or seepage pit.
In all of these cases, it is necessary to perform a Hydraulic Load Test. The Hydraulic Load Test is designed to determine the volume of clear water an absorption system can absorb in a 24 hour period. This is done by introducing an amount of water equal to the PA-DEP specified daily volume for the house into the absorption system on two consecutive days. During this test, no wastewater from the house may enter the absorption area. For more information on Hydraulic Load Tests, see "Hydraulic Load Test FAQ".

The results of the Hydraulic Load Test will enable the inspector to estimate how well the system is likely to perform in normal usage. It may also be useful to perform a Hydraulic Load Test in situations where the anticipated occupancy of the house is significantly greater that the current occupancy (for example, five people moving into a house currently occupied by only one person).

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