Every year, more than 5 million homes change hands. Many of those sales happen in cities and suburbs where homes connect with municipal sewage systems. However, a lot of homes also change hands in rural areas.

Unlike their city and suburban counterparts, rural homes lack access to municipal sewage systems. Instead, they rely on septic tanks for sewage disposal. For anyone new to septic tanks, the idea of septic inspection might seem foreign.

If you’re wondering whether a septic tank inspection is necessary or when it’s necessary, keep reading. We’ll cover what a septic inspection is and when it’s appropriate to get one.

What Is a Septic Inspection?

Septic inspections fall into two main categories: visual and full.


During a visual inspection, the inspector will run faucets and flush toilets. This helps them see if the toilets perform sluggishly or other slow drainage issues occur.

In essence, the inspector pushes the septic system to see if it’s working correctly. They will also do a walk-through in the area around the septic tank itself to look for signs of leaks or overflow.


A full inspection is a more involved process. The inspector will also push the system to look for telltale signs of problems.

They will also do a check of the inside of the tank and look for blockages in the pipe that connects the house and tank. In most cases, the inspection includes pumping out the tank. You can learn more about inspections and pumping here.

Why Would You Need a Septic Inspection?

People get septic inspections for two main reasons. One reason is that telltale signs of septic problems show up, such as:

  • A bad odor around toilets or drains
  • A persistent wet area in your lawn
  • Slow drainage

The other reason is that the house will go on the market soon. The standard home inspection will typically include a visual inspection.

This helps reassure prospective home buyers that the septic system won’t pose problems. After all, most people don’t want a house that requires near-immediate work on the septic system.

Septic Inspection Cost

The cost for a visual inspection gets folded into the cost for a home inspection, which typically runs somewhere in the $250-$500 range, depending on location and home size.

A full septic inspection runs somewhere in the $250-$400 range. Again, location can affect the average price in your area.

Is a Septic Inspection Necessary?

Yes, a septic inspection is necessary at times. Septic systems don’t run flawlessly forever. At some point, they will get full.

Once they get full, you can expect drainage problems and even foul smells around your drains and toilets. An inspection can reveal blockages. The septic pumping can typically resolve most problems.

An inspection also makes sense when you plan on selling your home. Buyers don’t like homes that need basic maintenance work done as soon as they move in. The inspection helps reassure them.

Looking for some more real estate info? Check out our Real Estate section.