Well and Septic Inspections FAQs in Southeast Wisconsin

Please review our frequently asked questions below as a resource if you're looking for information on well and septic systems. This page is especially important for those who are new to owning a well and septic system, as it can provide them with the knowledge and confidence they need to ensure their system is running properly and efficiently. Please review our services for more information, or contact us if there's additional well and septic based clarification we can provide.

Do I need to be present for my well or septic tank inspection?
While your presence is not required, we do encourage you to be there for at least part of the well or septic tank inspection, especially if you are buying or selling the home.

Do you have to enter the home for an inspection?
Yes, Guardian Well & Septic will need access to your home, both inside and out. If you have a shared well with a neighbor, we may also need access to their property as part of the inspection.To conduct a proper inspection, running water and electricity within the home is required.

How long does a well and septic tank inspection take?
Typically, our inspections take 1 to 2 hours. The inspection may take longer if septic systems and covers need to be located. Weather and snow cover may also be a factor in the length of your well and septic inspection time.

How long will it take to get my results from a well or septic tank inspection?
In most instances you will receive the well and septic tank inspection report later the same day. A well or septic inspection is not 100% complete upon leaving the property. Additional research takes place once we get back to our office which may include; locating a well construction report, researching the code that was in place at the time the well was constructed and water sample testing/analysis. Water samples taken at time of inspection need to be sent to a State certified laboratory and typically take 3-5 days to get results.

Should the septic system be pumped prior to the inspection?
NO! Please do not have the septic system pumped prior to the inspection. Critical information and clues are gathered prior to having the tank pumped. Your inspection will be limited if the septic system is pumped before these observations can be made. Our process involves having the tank pumped DURING the inspection, but only after we make our initial observations. After these observations are made, the tank will be pumped (while we are there) so we can complete the evaluation by inspecting the interior of the tank.

What is a POWTS?
POWTS is an acronym for a Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System. A more widely used term is 'septic system'. It is intended to treat domestic wastewater. The two main components of a conventional septic system are the tank and soil absorption area. The tank is where waste from the household is first collected. The solids are then separated out to remain in the tank, while the excess liquid flows to a soil absorption area. The soil absorption area is commonly referred to as a drain field or mound depending on the type of system you have.

Do all POWTS have a soil absorption area?
No, sometimes Holding Tanks are installed on sites that may not have sufficient suitable soils or area on the lot for a soil absorption area. Holding tanks are a tank where all household waste enters, much like a conventional system. The difference is holding tanks are sealed so that liquid cannot exit the tank. Since the contents have no place to go, a holding tank requires frequent pumping.

How often do I have to have my septic tank pumped?
This depends on the usage and also if you have a conventional system or a holding tank. Typically, a conventional system can go many years before needing to be pumped (but again this depends on usage and system type). A holding tank may need to be pumped every few weeks (again depending on usage).

NOTE: Every septic system is required to be inspected every three years. This does NOT necessarily mean it has to be pumped every three years. If the sludge is less than 1/3 of the tank volume, a certified POWTS Inspector, or registered POWTS maintainer can file the report on-line for you. If the sludge is more than 1/3 of the tank volume, you need to have the system pumped by a certified septage service operator.

Why is it important to maintain my septic system?
1. MONEY! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and improper maintenance by homeowners is a common cause of early system failure. There is a small cost for preventative maintenance compared to a potential large cost for system replacement. The replacement of a failing septic system can cost thousands of dollars. Compare that to spending roughly a hundred dollars every three years to have your septic system routinely inspected. Proper maintenance may even extend the life of your system. 2. HEALTH! You should be concerned about the health of your family, your community, and the environment. When septic systems fail, inadequately treated household wastewater is released into the environment. Any contact with untreated human waste can pose a significant risk to public health. Untreated wastewater from failing septic systems can contaminate nearby wells, groundwater, and drinking water sources. 3. It’s the LAW! Wisconsin Statute 145.20 and Wisconsin Administrative Code SPS 383.54 requires it.

How can I tell if my well water is safe?
While certain contaminants will visibly alter the appearance or taste of well water, others cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. The only reliable way to know if your well water is safe for use is to have it tested by a licensed inspector.

How often should I have my well tested?
Most state and federal authorities recommend having your well water tested annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates. Other potential contaminants should be tested for at least once every five to ten years.

How long will it take to get the results of my water test?
Guardian Well & Septic partners with a state certified lab that typically return your results within three to five business days.

What may cause my water sample to come back as unsafe?
There are many factors that can potentially cause water contamination. Please reference this list of possible sources provided by the water testing lab we utilize.

Which Southeastern Wisconsin areas do you service?
We provide well and septic inspections for the following counties: Dodge, Washington, Ozaukee, ​Jefferson, Waukesha, Walworth, ​Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha.