Why inspect a septic system?

 When a residence or other property contains a septic system it is important the system be inspected and tested by a qualified inspector prior to sale. Many national lending institutions (Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, VA, etc) as well as most large mortgage companies require a septic inspection prior to funding. Although no standards exist in Pennsylvania for conducting a septic inspection, a PSMA (Pennsylvania Septage Management Association) inspection is the inspection of choice for real estate transactions.

Buyer: A buyer benefits from the inspection procedure by having all of the information necessary to make an informed decision about what will likely be the largest purchase he or she will make.

Seller: Pennsylvania law requires property sellers to disclose all known defects relating to their property. A septic system inspection meets this disclosure duty, and prevents your buyer from claiming that they were not informed about the septic system’s "true" condition. This can prevent costly lawsuits.

Real estate agents: Although disclosure laws don’t directly apply to real estate agents, they often get dragged into legal disputes because their errors and omissions insurance. Again, a septic system inspection can prevent costly litigation before it starts! As a real estate professional, you also know that a smooth transaction enhances your reputation.

A septic inspection offers protection for everyone involved in a real estate transaction at a relatively low price.





Septic systems are generally broken down to two components, a septic tank, and a drainage system. Wastewater from the house enters the septic tank, and the solid matter settles. Water passes through the tank by gravity.  The drainage system filters the effluent from the septic tank to a further degree, and then disposes the treated effluent back into the ground water table.

  1. The septic tank size is simply calculated based on the number of bedrooms in the house.
  2. The permitting process with the County determines the type and size of the permissible drainage system.  The drainage system/sand mound is sized based on the present soils and number of bedrooms.


The following is the general format for obtaining a permit from the Bucks County Health Department (BCHD) for conventional septic system construction -   
  1. Submit SA 53 repair form to BCHD for site testing appointment.
  2. Excavate test holes at the property with a backhoe. Holes approximately 3-7’ will be dug at the prospective septic drainage area. A soil profile will be developed, and the type of septic drainage system will be determined and matched to current corresponding state code. This step determines the “type” of allowable system. The potential site will be staked out at the four corners by this company on this day.                                             
  3. Surveyor must located 4 corners of property. A site plot plan will be needed depicting the potential septic drainage area in conjunction with other site features. This plan must be drawn by a registered surveyor. This plan is then generally submitted to the BCHD to schedule a perk test. Any registered surveyor can perform this work        
  4. A perk test would be completed to determine septic drainage area square footage. Six holes are generally dug with post hole diggers. The perk test is over two days. This step determines the required “size” in square footage of the system, and also completes the soils testing phase.            
  5. With soils work completed, along with surveyor plot plan, a septic system design can then be drafted and submitted to the BCHD that reflects current state regulation, (Title 25, chapter 73).          
  6. Upon permit issuance from the BCHD, firm construction bids can be gathered. Permits are valid for three (3) years. Approved septic absorption areas must be kept in tact. Any disturbance to the site can risk a permit to be revoked.


Please note:

  • The BCHD witnesses and validates soils testing in conjunction with current state regulations. The BCHD does not perform the actual testing.
  • Alternate septic systems such as drip irrigations require slightly different soils testing and approvals from the respected system manufacturer.
  • Pending weather, this permitting process can generally take three – eight weeks.
  • Montgomery County and the Lehigh Valley processes are very similar. However, filing papers for soils testing is slightly different.


Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions !



Bux Mont Inspections Inc. 
Septic Inspections Don Silverthorn (484) 239-5868 
Perk Tests & Designs Rob Bowie (215)-669-4213