Inspection - Signs of Surcharging

Inspecting for Signs of Septic Surcharging

Surcharging is a stress on the septic system.  When the septic system inspector does not see clear signs of septic system component failure, the inspector may still observe and note evidence of "stress" on the system.   For example, the septic tank and distribution box may show evidence that the system has been "surcharged."   Surcharging occurs when the volume discharged to the septic system exceeds the capacity of the various septic system components to convey the flow onward for disposal.   The liquid level rises above the normal operating levels, and may not recede until the component drains.  Regular or prolonged surcharging may leave staining patterns on the septic system components.  If present, these staining conditions should be noted by the inspector.

Surcharging due to excessive high flow (e.g. draining a hot tub) increases the likelihood of system failure.  Signs of surcharging (staining) may also indicate that there is a problem with poor ventilation, clogged pipelines, a clogged drain field, or other mechanical problem.  Most septic systems are surcharged occasionally.  Observed staining from surcharging does not indicate the septic system is failed, but may mean that a more detailed evaluation is required.  This evaluation attempts to determine which septic system components need maintenance or repair.

If you receive a septic system inspection report that indicates signs of surcharging, we recommend that you contact a local septic designer to discuss the findings.   Use the Septic Advisor Tool - Find Local Septic Pros  to contact a local septic designer OR you can participate in one of the blog forums and ask a question about the inspection report.

See Find Local Help or Find Septic Companies to learn how to use the Septic Advisor Tools.