Annual Maintenance Inspections
Septic systems protect the environment by recycling wastewater and returning it to the natural environment. It is the job of homeowners to make sure this happens safely and effectively. This happens with proper maintenance, regular inspections and an understanding of home septic systems work. Septic systems should be evaluated and pumped at least every two to three years.
The City of Gem Lake has an extensive ordinance that deals with septic systems. Ordinance #67D can be found in the ordinance section of this web-site. Gem Lake requires that all septic systems be inspected annually by a contractor hired by the City.
During these inspections the contractor looks at the following types of things:
- Is your system in need of maintenance pumping?
- Is there a high liquid level in the septic tank which could cause sewage to back up into the house or cause effluent to surface on the ground around the tank? Our inspectors use what is called a “sludge judge” to check liquid levels. Please note that a high reading may indicate that your system is overdue for pumping.
- Is any manhole cover secure and in good shape?
- If there is a lift station, is it operational or in need of repair? This could also cause sewage to back up into the house or cause effluent to surface on the ground.
- Can the contractor locate the access for your septic tank?
- Is the ground around your tank soft and squishy? (Possibly not good)
The City of Gem Lake charges $40 for each annual inspection. This inspection is done primarily to protect health and safety in our community. It is not done as a system compliance inspection, which is a much more thorough evaluation that is done, for instance, when a house is for sale. While, the annual inspection will reveal whether your system should be pumped and is in significant need of maintenance—overall system maintenance should be ongoing. It is your responsibility to keep your septic system in working order.
To facilitate the best possible inspection please note the following:
- To the best degree possible, all inspections with take place during the month of September. This will leave time for you to get your system pumped if the inspection indicates attention is needed.
- Please make sure your access point for your septic is uncovered and noticeable.
- Please reach out to our Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer, Mike Johnson, before or after the inspection to ask any questions.
Please read the attached handout on Septic System Best Management Practices that was published by the University of Minnesota.
Attached are additional handouts for Septic Systems