What if I’m selling/ purchasing a home that has a septic system and well?

If requested, the Darke County Health Department will inspect the septic system and well of the property. This inspection is called a Special Service inspection. The Health Department will take a water sample and have it tested for total coliform bacteria, which are the indicator organisms of contamination. Samples for other parameters may be requested for an additional fee. It is not a requirement by the Health Department to have the system inspected; however, many lending institutions require such inspection. And, if you are completing an inspection through the Health Department, then you must fulfill all requirements of the Health Department for inspection including the water test on the water system. It is important for the potential homeowner to be informed as to what they are purchasing.

The Health Department has records of septic systems that are installed within the county. Most of the records are filed by address; however, there are still some records (mainly in the southern portion of the county) that are filed according to Township and the last name of the homeowner when the system was installed. They may also be filed according to the Builder or Subdivision name if the builder applied for the permit at that time. Some records date back to the 1950’s, but most start in the 1970’s. In order to find a record, please have the following information available: a list of all previous homeowners, address, township, subdivision, lot number, builder of the house, and whether it is a septic system or an aeration system.

Requirements of the inspection:

  1. Have the inlet and outlet lids to the septic tank uncovered at the time of inspection.
  2. Have the lids to the distribution boxes and/ or splitter box uncovered.
  3. A distribution box is a box that distributes the effluent to the leach lines. 
  4. The splitter box is the box that sends the effluent to the distribution boxes.

Not all septic systems have distribution boxes and splitter boxes. Some just have a splitter box, a distribution box, or a manifold. If the system is a sub-surface sand filter, the outlet to the filter must be uncovered at the time of inspection in order to survey the quality of the effluent. The outlet is typically four feet deep. If the system is a dry well, then the lid to the dry well must be uncovered.

Have a scavenger who is registered with the Darke County Health District to pump septic tanks, pump the septic tank at the time of inspection. The septic system must be pumped while the Health Department inspector is present.

Note: it is the responsibility of the person requesting the inspection to have the lids to the septic system uncovered. The scavenger may or may not uncover the system for a fee, and it is the person requesting the inspection responsibility to make all pumping and uncovering arrangements not the Health Department.

Once the system has been inspected, the Darke County General Health District may require updates to the system if deemed appropriate.

The water system is also required to be tested; therefore, these inspections are scheduled only on Tuesday afternoons as we have scheduled pick up from the laboratory on Wednesday morning. The well cap may also be removed at the time of inspection to view the pitless adapter.

Note: If there are no risers currently on the inlet and outlet lids of the septic tank or drywell, then they may be required. An inspection port will be required on the outlet of a sub-surface sand filter. If the inspection is being done for a land split, then soil testing may be required for the replacement septic system. This should be done following the special service inspection, but prior to any surveying. The system will also be placed under the Health Department’s Sewage Operational & Maintenance Program