I learned a neat trick to pass on. When considering buying an existing house, you always perform an inspection on the home before you close the deal. One of the things you inspect is the septic tank if the home has one. This is usually a different person than the general home inspector. When inspecting the septic put in a statement that you must be there to witness the inspection. In this way you can ensure there is no issues. There is little worse than buying a new home and having toilets overflow soon after you move in.
Unless you see something in the septic tank that suggest the drain field is damage I do not dig up the leach field. You can do a lot of harm to the field just be digging it up. When inspecting the septic, the inspector will use a line with a camera to examine the line coming from the home to the tank. A neat thing is he has a transmitter on the end of that line. When he sees it enter the tank, he goes outside with a detector and that is where he digs to find the top of the tank. Once he has the tank open, he will often turn on the water and flush the toilets to ensure proper flow from the home. He will ensure the tank appears to be draining correctly.
He also inspects the waste in the tank. He then will pump the tank, but he does not empty it as once the “stuff” down there is happy in the microbe soup it builds you want to maintain that. He recommended we buy this septic tank additive from his company, but I will look for it cheaper else where. It does appear you need to be a bit more careful when living on a privately owned septic tank than government managed septic system.
The guys were young, professional and nice to talk too. One was an Army veteran and the other just a smart guy doing a difficult job without compliant. Inspecting your new home’s septic tank, not pretty, but a really good thing to do and personally witness before you decided to buy.