updated: Aug 2011   back to GHEH home   

Service enhancements to Inspections, Sampling and site visits:

Accela Citizen's Access

Help instructions or call our office at 641.7613. Staff are available to assist you.

Our Water Quality Program oversees site evaluations, permitting and inspections to insure proper placement, design, construction, repair, monitoring and abandonment of on-site sewage disposal systems.

  • Site Evaluation/System Installation Process - We evaluate the soil to determine the suitability for a septic tank system, review the design as necessary, issue improvement permits and construction authorizations, inspect installation of septic systems and issue operator permits for approved systems.
  • System Inspection - An inspection is required when any new construction is begun on a piece of property that has an existing septic system and/or well.
  • System Repair - We evaluate problems with existing septic systems and provide possible solutions, as well as issue permits required to repair the system.
  • System Maintenance and Monitoring - We conduct inspections on certain types of septic systems in compliance with state requirements for monitoring, to check for proper maintenance and to check operations.
  • Education - Our sewage system demonstration exhibit allows citizens to observe some of the systems available for different sites. Education on maintaining and monitoring systems is available during consultative visits.

A fee is charged for some services.

Operations and Maintenance Inspection

Who are we : Operation and Maintenance Inspection.

What we do: investigate complaints and facilitate the repairs of existing septic systems. This includes evaluation of sites and troubleshooting existing systems to detect possible problems. Finally, we issue a construction authorization for the repair of the systems when necessary.

            We will also conduct routine operation and maintenance inspections on all septic systems with a pump. We will check the sludge levels in the pump tank and septic tank, if accessible. The pump will be run and the alarm will be activated to ensure they are functioning properly. The pump dosing volume will be checked and notations made on the inspection report when the dosing volume is less than or exceeds an acceptable design range. The pressure heads will be checked on those systems that are designed with a determined pressure head.  During this inspection, we will also evaluate the drainfield for any surfacing of effluent.

When: The inspection frequency for different systems are as follows:

Type of systems Description of systems Frequency
Type III single pump every five years
Type IV low pressure distribution or system with more than one pump every three years
Type V & VI large systems or systems with pretreatment every year or six months

Why: We do the inspections to protect the public from adverse health affects. In short we try to keep effluent (sewage) below the ground surface so that it does not come in contact with people or animals in your community. Sewage may contain several harmful viruses or bacteria which may cause disease. Some of these diseases are: typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery, poliomyelitis, infectious hepatitis, amoebic dysentery, gastrointestinal infection, giardiasis, and schistosomiasis.



Why do I keep getting these bills for Environmental Health Services? The state of North Carolina has determined a minimum inspection frequency (see above) for several systems. Guilford County charges a fee to cover the expense of providing this inspection service. The fee is based upon the type system you have and the frequency of the inspections required.

Where is my septic system located?  Your system may be in your front yard, back yard, or your entire system may not even be on your property. You may call in @641-7613 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM to get information about your system type and system location, providing we have an updated file on your property.

What can I do to keep my system functioning for as long as possible?
The number one way to protect your system is to keep the solids from getting into your drainfield. You can do this by:
*keeping your tank pumped every 3-5 years
*keeping your filter in place and cleaned as needed
*not flushing any cleaning solutions, chemicals or grease down the toilet or drain
*limit the use of the garbage disposal
*do not put backwash from a water softener into your septic tank.
*limit your water use as much as possible.

What is a low pressure pipe system? It is a septic system with usually one pump, installed with small diameter (1-1.25 inches) schedule 40 pipe. The system is installed shallow (12-14inches deep) with 4-6 inches of soil cover. It is installed in 18 inch wide trenches and designed to distribute effluent equally to all parts of the system, once the system has been pressurized. The system works well, but must be monitored and maintained by a certified operator.

Are the inspections required in other counties? Yes, they are required state wide.

Can I opt out of the O& M inspections? No, these inspections are required by the North Carolina on-site wastewater rules. The rules require that the local health department conduct these inspections.

Is there really a public health benefit to these inspections? Yes, we often find things that need to be repaired or replaced that are preventative measures. This simply means if you will fix the problem now it may prevent sewage on top of the ground later.

Why does my system have to be inspected but my neighbor does not? The answer is many fold. All systems with pumps that were installed or repaired beginning July 1, 1992 are required to have inspections completed on certain intervals. Inspections are not required by state rules, if your neighbor does not have a pump on their septic system or if their pump system was installed prior to July 1, 1992.

Can I have a septic installer do the inspections on my system? No, the state rules state “the local health department shall routinely review the performance and operation reports submitted” The required review frequency is specified in the rules and above.

Where can I get more information about on-site septic systems?     Department of Environmental and Natural Resources    Small Flows Clearinghouse    NRCS Soils     NOWRA    Pathogens or Harmful bacteria in wastewater    State and Local Agencies    EPA Septic Systems    Tank Additives Article    Certified Operator List

  400 W. Market Street, Greensboro, North Carolina 27401 | t:336.641.7613 |  f:336.641.3730