FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 
ARE THESE INSPECTIONS REQUIRED?
Some counties and cities have ordinances that require a certified inspection.  In other cases lenders may require these inspections.  Even if not required, a person purchasing a home should always have inspections done to protect their interests.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE D & H ENVIRONMENTAL?
We are specialized and only do well, water, septic and pest inspections.  Over the last 13 years D&H Environmental has been an industry leader in the well and septic inspection business. To date D &H has performed thousands of inspections throughout Michigan. From Detroit to the Upper Peninsula, D&H is recognized by all major lenders and mortgage companies.
When you hire D & H you receive the most thorough and professional inspection available. Some home inspectors have very little training in well and septic inspecting and little to none in design or functionality. Furthermore, in the event that follow-up is needed, we are the company to have! We are always here for you. Questions and as much conversation necessary or desired. When you hire D & H you can be assured you are hiring the best! 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET RESULTS?
Bacteria, nitrates, arsenic and lead results can be  ready 24 hours after they are dropped to the lab. The septic report can be ready the same day of the inspection..

HOW CAN D & H ENVIRONMENTAL GET THE INSPECTION RESULTS IN 1 DAY WHEN IT TAKES THE COUNTY WEEKS?
Local health departments are continually feeling the pain of huge cost cuts and are working with practically skeleton staffing levels and have many more programs than just loan evaluations. D & H Environmental only performs these evaluations and can give personal attention. Furthermore, we have a relationship with each of the laboratories used. We receive all results via fax or e-mail and can get results as quick as possible. Therefore we save about one week in mailing time.

WHAT CAN I DO AS A HOMEOWNER OR REALTOR TO EXPEDITE THE INSPECTION PROCESS?
• Provide the address, lot number, owners name, year constructed and as much information as possible in advance to avoid waiting for the health department records. It is a pro-active option which can save over one week. Furthermore, I will provide the information to any septic tank pumper you wish, to make their job easier and save you money. Realtors who use me consistently call me as soon as they acquire a listing with well and/or septic. Have the home in proper condition for inspection i.e. power on; water on.
• Have a keybox on the home or be flexible with the time of day the inspection can be conducted.
• Be available for questions we may have regarding the home and the systems.

WHY ARE HEALTH DEPARTMENT RECORDS NECESSARY?
They are not always necessary.  We can get along without them, but they can be helpful. These records contain information with regard to the size of the system; the size of the home it was designed for; the estimated location; and the date of final approval. This paperwork is reviewed and included with the final report. This information provides a great deal of reassurance to the buyer that the system was designed appropriately in the beginning and was approved by the governing agency. 

WHY USE D&H ENVIRONMENTAL RATHER THAN THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT? WHAT AM I GETTING FOR THE MONEY?
The health department is not in business to make a profit. Nor are they there to make your transaction is quick and painless. With D&H You receive the fastest, most thorough inspection available.  We can have the inspection conducted and the report completed in 24 hours, the health department can take up to 6 weeks. The longest you have to wait, provided all necessary documentation is provided, is 3 days. 

WHAT IF THE BUYER OR THEIR AGENT HAS A QUESTION OR PROBLEM WITH THE REPORT?
D&H Environmental is available to answer any questions regarding inspection reports.

WHY CAN’T THE HOMEOWNER OR REALTOR TAKE THE WATER SAMPLES?
It is a standard requirement that these tests be conducted by an independent third party. By hiring us you are ensured the samples are not contaminated during collection. 

CAN A SEPTIC INSPECTION BE CONDUCTED IN THE WINTER?
Absolutely! Especially if the home is occupied. Septic systems provide heat. They usually prevent the ground from freezing over the septic tanks and drainfield. Snow cover also helps keep the system from freezing. This is not the case in a vacant home or if there is an excessive amount of cover over the system. We do carry a pick axe in the event the ground is frozen. This way, a full inspection can be conducted, even if the ground is frozen.

WHAT IS A SEPTIC TANK AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
A septic tank is nothing more than a chamber, usually concrete, but sometimes plastic or fiberglass. All waste water from the home is plumbed to discharge into the septic tank. Once in the tank, the solids settle to the bottom, the light items such as grease and hair float to the top. The center of the tank is where the clearer water is. At the bottom of the tank, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria which do not require air to live) will perform some breakdown of the solids. Once a septic tank is full, it stays full. When 10 gallons is sent into the full tank, 10 gallons should discharge to the drainfield. 

WHAT IS A DRAINFIELD?
A drainfield is the final disposal area. It usually consists of stone and perforated pipe with sand below it. The fluid, called effluent, from the septic tank enters the perforated pipe and discharges down into the stone and the sand below the stone. Aerobic bacteria (bacteria which require air to function) perform the work in this system. Furthermore, grass growth encourages transpiration (uptake of water from roots). Sunlight provides evaporation. As a system ages a biomat is formed. This is what eventually fails the system. It is a black, slimy substance often called sludge. When these form, the aerobic bacteria can no longer perform their job and the system can no longer function properly. Fortunately, this develops slowly.


WHAT HAPPENS IF IT IS DETERMINED THAT MY DRAINFIELD IS IN A STATE OF FAILURE?
Only the local health department is permitted by law to design and issue a permit to replace a septic system. You will be referred to your local health department to apply for a replacement septic permit. 

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE IF THE CLEAR WATER DISCHARGE, SUCH AS A WATER SOFTENER OR A SUMP PUMP IS DISCHARGING TO THE SEPTIC SYSTEM?
A septic system is sized to handle the average amount of sewage produced in a home. It is not sized to handle any more water than that. Excessive water, which does not require treatment, is a waste of the system. Furthermore, water softener regeneration may be high in salt content. This can kill the bacteria in the septic tank, rendering its function to very little. Sump pump water can be excessive and overload the system, leading to premature failure. These two types of water are considered clear water and do not require treatment. It is best to save the septic system for water which does require treatment.

WHY ARE GARBAGE DISPOSALS NOT RECOMMENDED?
Garbage disposals grind organic material up and send them to the septic system. This will increase the frequency the septic tanks will require cleaning. Furthermore, the solids may not settle to the bottom of the septic tank, as they should, and may be sent to the drainfield, where they will accelerate the aging of the system, possibly leading to premature failure.

SHOULD I PUT SEPTIC TANK ADDITIVES INTO MY SEPTIC SYSTEM?
No, your body will provide all the "enzymes and bacteria" necessary for the system. These chemicals should be considered a waste of money. Root additives may be particularly dangerous. If you have roots growing into your septic tank, your tank requires replacement and that is all there is to it, as the integrity of the tank is now inadequate. 

SHOULD TREES BE OVER OR NEAR THE SEPTIC SYSTEM?
No, especially trees and shrubs with aggressive root systems, such as fruit or flower bearing trees/shrubs. These roots may inundate the system, especially on seasonal locations where the vegetation is used to getting water, when the water supply stops, the roots may get into the pipes of the drainfield, or the septic tank and ruin the integrity of the system. 


HOW LONG WILL A DRAINFIELD LAST?
While this is a very good question, there is no good answer. We have seen systems last less than 5 years and more than 50. The key to the function of a system is based on the following:
• Proper design in the beginning
• Proper construction techniques at the time of installation (which cannot be determined after the system is in)
• Proper use once it is installed (fixing leaks, removing clear water discharge i.e. water softener and sump pumps)
• Proper maintenance (see tips to help the system last longer)
• Proper drainage (do not divert run off over the system)
When properly used, a properly designed and installed drainfield in normal conditions should last well over 20 years. This is based on what we have seen in these private inspections.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY SEPTIC SYSTEM LAST LONGER?
There are several actions which can be taken:
• DO get the tank/s pumped every 3-5 years
• DO NOT flush anything unnecessary into the system. i.e. sanitary napkins, condoms, oil, excessive grease, paints, paint thinner, excessive amounts of chemicals
• DO NOT use septic tank additives
• DO NOT cover the system with excessive landscaping which will result in more than 24 inches of cover over the drainfield
• DO NOT drive over any portion of the system with anything heavier than an average lawn tractor
• DO NOT plant trees/shrubs over the system
• DO NOT put cement, such as basketball or tennis courts over the system
• DO NOT park over the system
• DO NOT build a building or deck over the system (if a deck is over the septic tank, be sure there is an access port for pumping and servicing)
• DO NOT send water softener regeneration into the septic system
• DO install an effluent filter
• DO provide adequate grass growth over the system
• DO fix leaking fixtures ASAP

WILL THIS INSPECTION DAMAGE MY PROPERTY?
No, however, digging and excavation may cause little cosmetic or superficial spots in the lawn or landscape.  We do our very best to leave things in the condition in which we found them.

WHAT IF I HAVE BACTERIA IN MY WELL WATER?
Provided it is Coliform bacteria, and not E. Coli, it is not a big problem (E. coli is extremely rare). Provided the well is properly constructed, the first action is to simply flush the water for anywhere from 4 to 24 hours, depending on the homeowners willingness. Once the water is flushed, 90% of resampling results come back with the problem being solved – this is especially true with vacant homes. In the event that flushing the system is not effective, we move to superficial chlorination. It is recommended that this be performed by a qualified company. However, the homeowner can attempt it if desired. This takes care of over 99% of the problem. Very rarely, bulk chlorination is required. 


WHAT IF I HAVE NITRATES IN MY WELL?
Nitrates are a problem because they prevent oxygen from binding with the blood. In essence, one can suffocate from the inside. Just as it sounds, this is a serious public health threat. They are of primary concern for infants under 6 months of age; the elderly; and those with immune disorders. The only true correction for high nitrates is to drill a new well, in an uncontaminated aquifer. However, if the well is properly constructed, a reverse osmosis water treatment unit will bring nitrate levels down to undetectable measures. 

DO YOU COLLECT ANY OTHER WATER SAMPLES?
Coliform, E.Coli, nitrate and nitrite are included in the cost of the standard well inspection. D&H Environmental will collect any other water samples requested.  This includes, but is not limited to LEAD, ARSENIC and more. The cost of this service is directly related to the analysis cost, which varies by item analyzed.

IS LEAD WATER TESTING RECOMMENDED? 
Lead water tests evaluate lead in the plumbing. Lead is more prevalent in older homes.  FHA, VA and Rural Housing Development  loans may require a lead water test. In order to be performed appropriately, the test should be what is called first draw. The water must sit in contact with the pipes for at least 6 hours prior to collecting the sample. Therefore, this test is  not evaluating the well, but rather the water from the pipes, which should be lead free. 

IS PUMP CAPACITY AND WATER PRESSURE THE SAME THING?
No. Pump capacity is the amount of water the well pump can produce in one minute. You can have low water pressure, but satisfactory pump capacity.  Water treatment systems (softeners or other filtration systems) can restrict water flow.  This does not mean the well is low yielding.  This will be addressed if it occurs during inspection.


WHAT PAYMENTS DO YOU ACCEPT?
We accept cash, check and most major credit cards.  We can also bill the inspection costs to closing if written consent is given. 

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