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How Much Does a Septic Inspection Cost?

By August 31, 2020Septic
Septic tank

Homes have either a septic system and a well for the water supply or they have sewer and city water.  It is important you know which one a home has that you are considering purchasing as maintenance is very different. 

A septic is often located in the backyard of a home.  It has either a cement top on it or risers to keep it above the ground.  It collects waste solids from the home and breaks them down. This all happens while the liquid flows out to a drain field that is in the yard.  The solids accumulate in the tank and the tank needs pumping.  If it is not, you will notice a backup in the system.

A septic inspection costs on average about $300 and up. Factors that determine the cost are the size of the tank and other areas that need inspecting.  A septic system should last about 25-30 years if maintained properly.  An inspection at least every 3 years is the recommendation by a professional to maintain the system.  What determines the septic inspection cost for a home? Let’s take a look.

Why Have the Septic Inspected

Just like the inspection should be at the most every three years, so is the pumping of the septic.  Many people don’t inspect or pump their septic regularly, due to the inspection cost. However, this leads to problems in the system and costly repairs. 

Why have the septic inspected

Maintenance is important to avoid backups in the system. As this can lead to problems with the well water that your family will be drinking.  An inspector will also make sure the well is at the correct distance from the septic system. 

As a buyer, you don’t want to purchase a home with a septic system that doesn’t work correctly.  This will not be a good situation when you move into the home.  Paying for this inspection, in addition to a home inspection is worth your money and health.

Who Does the Septic Inspection

Many home inspection service companies also conduct septic inspections.  Read reviews about the company and what they do for a septic inspection.  Finding a certified and experienced company is important as this is a difficult area to inspect and you want it done correctly.  Remember that cheaper is not always better either.

Some sellers want to do the inspection themselves but this is not advisable. If the seller is not properly trained, then all they can do is a visual inspection.  The visual inspection doesn’t get into the tank to see what is going on and this is an area you don’t want to mess with.

When does the septic inspection happen in the process of the sale of a home

The septic inspection is often at the time of the contract.  It is an add-on service that many home inspection companies can do.  In addition, it can also be done anytime before closing with a professional. 

The recommendation is the earlier the better in case there are repairs.  In addition, if the buyer finds there are issues, this gives the buyer and realtor time to negotiate the price with the seller.

Depending on the state in which the home is located, there may be different requirements for when the septic inspection is done. Working with your professional realtor is important to navigate this process.

Why a seller might do a pre-inspection on the septic

Some sellers will have the septic inspection done before the sale of the home to show that it is functioning properly.  If repairs are found, the pre-inspection will show that information and give the seller time to make the repairs, if he/she chooses to. 

However, if there are issues, disclosing them in the home report for the buyers is important. Being upfront and honest with buyers is the right thing to do and will save the seller expense and possible responsibility later when the issue comes up after closing.

How long is the septic inspection

A septic inspection can take about 2 hours depending on these factors:

  • Size of the tank
  • Depth in the yard
  • Any other issues that need investigating

The buyer should attend the inspection so he/she can learn from the professional how to maintain the system.

What Factors into the Septic Inspection Cost

The greater the depth of the tank and the larger the tank, the more it will cost to inspect.  In addition, there can be more fees added depending on what the trained professional finds.

If a home inspection company only does a visual inspection, ask them for a referral for a professional. A professional will check the inside of the tank for cracks and use other tools to see what is inside.

What is checked in a septic inspection

What is Checked in a Septic Inspection

  1. Leaks– checking the tank for leaks in a septic inspection is important. The professional will look at the level of the water in the tank. In addition, he/she will look for tree roots, broken pipes, and clogs in the system.
  2. Wastewater flow to the drain field – if the water going towards the drain field isn’t flowing well, this tells the professional inspector that there is a clog in the system. This area will need a repair.
  3. Sludge level– the sludge level cannot exceed 1/3 of the tank contents and the professional will measure this.
  4. Water body distance– Septic tanks should be installed at specific distances from a body of water in order to avoid contamination.  The inspector will check this at the inspection to make sure water is not leaking into these sources and contaminating it. You want water that is clean to drink in the home and not making anyone sick.
  5. Size of the tank- there are specific sizes of septic tanks for certain sizes of families.  If the tank is too small for your family, you will need to have it pumped more often.  An inspector may recommend that you replace the septic in order to avoid further issues.  Keep in mind replacing a septic is not cheap and costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Buyer/Seller responsibilities for Septic Inspection

If there is an issue does the seller pay or the buyer?

The seller should pay for any repairs or replacement as this is a safety issue for the home.  A home that has a septic must function correctly so it does not back up or seep into the water system. 

If the seller does not want to pay, contract terms determine the next step.  However, if the contract cannot be negotiated for a “repair credit” or to even pay half, the buyer has the right to walk away.


The cost of a septic inspection can vary according to the size of the tank, depth of the tank and any other issues that arise.  A trained and experienced professional should be the one doing the inspection.  Have you had a septic inspection and have questions about it or are you in the market for a home that has septic?  Drop us a line below and tell us about it!