Author photo

By John Nelson
contributing writer 

what they are and what they aren't

John the Plumber


September 17, 2022

Illustration of underground septic system.

Every time a home is sold, there's a very good chance that the lender is going to require a septic certification. Seeing as how a large number of homes in the Tehachapi valley and the high desert communities of Kern County are on septic, that means there are a lot of septic certifications currently being performed for buyers and sellers. Local plumber John Nelson, of John the Plumber, thought this would be a good time to address what exactly is involved in a septic certification.

"We get several calls a month from buyers, sellers or agents with questions regarding septic certifications," John says. "We do our best to educate all parties before even going out to the property but there are still a lot of misconceptions about septic inspections and certifications."

The first error in thinking is that the tank must be pumped prior to inspection. "This is completely false," John explains. "When doing an inspection, I need to inspect the level and condition of the waste. An empty tank, especially a concrete one, tells me absolutely nothing about the system."

The second misunderstanding is believing that a certification is the same as a warranty. "The number one reason people have septic issues is occupant misuse. There isn't a plumber or septic inspector alive who can guarantee the future performance of a system as they can't control how many people will be using it, how they will use it or the weather. Large amounts of rain can saturate the ground leading to waste water absorption levels," he says. A septic certification is good for the day in which it is performed.

Another misconception has recently come to light. "We had a call from a new homeowner complaining that one of their toilets was backing up into the shower. When we went out to investigate, we found that the issue was baby wipes in the sewage line and not a problem with the septic system. The buyer admitted that they had elected to not have the lines in the house scoped with a camera by the home inspector as they assumed that the septic inspection would cover that. The problem with that is a septic inspection does not involve the lines inside the house. We inspect the lines coming into and out of the tank and the tank itself, but we don't go in the house to run water or flush toilets."

Completely understanding how a new homeowner could make such an assumption, John the Plumber has decided to start offering line scoping with a camera as an option when ordering a septic inspection. "If the buyer hasn't paid the home inspector to scope the lines, we highly recommend that they hire us to do so."

For all your plumbing needs, the folks at John the Plumber want to help. Call them at (661) 823-8031 or (760) 373-7050.


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