Septic Systems Consultation Only

Rural properties whether in the country or a town or village or city are frequently serviced by septic pumper trucks as required by the OBC, (Ontario Building Code) with-in a 5 year period for pumping and in Quebec usually every two years. At this time they can be reviewed for deficiencies. Well water should be tested one or two times per year to ensure quality is maintained. DoubleCheck Home Inspections Ottawa does not investigate septic systems or wells. However, we provide the following information for your interest.

Septic systems require inspection during construction; they generally last 15 to 20 years. Surprisingly some have lasted up to 30 to 40years depending on usage. Some have failed in 5 years. Having the septic tank pumped at the time of the septic inspection will aid in the complete review of the septic system and may reveal problems with the tank or upgrades that could be made Inspection.


Never attempt to inspect a septic system when the ground is frozen because digging test holes will be almost impossible and there is a possibility of breaking through breaking a drain line or connection in the field. If the home will be vacant over winter, it is best to wait until the frost is out before pumping the tank. And if the cottage or home is vacant all winter hopefully the tank was not pumped in the fall. If it was pumped in the fall and the home or cottage was vacant all winter there is a chance that the frost will disrupt the lines connecting to the tank in the spring.

 Only a licensed septic system investigator is capable of inspecting a septic system properly. This inspection should include both the tank and weeping bed. Simply checking the tank does not give you enough information.

The following points relate to traditional septic systems, which include a septic tank and a weeping bed. 

  • The septic system should be no closer than 3m to the lot line.
  • It must be at least 15 metres (50 feet) from the nearest drilled well.
  • It must be at least 30 metres (100 feet) from the nearest dug well.
  • The septic tank should be at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) from the house.
  • The septic system must be at least 5 metres (16 feet) from a swimming pool.
  • The septic tank should be at least 5 metres (16 feet) from a vegetable garden.
  • The septic tank should not be under a deck or part of the house.
  • These are all minimum distances that should be observed.
  • Some systems require only that type of system installer to inspect them.


Ontario Building Code requires septic systems to be pumped every 3 to 5 years, where as in Quebec systems are generally pumped every two years. In Ontario the owner pays directly to the septic pumper person where as in Quebec the municipal taxes pay for the job of pumping the tank. If you are purchasing, ask for the name of the septic pumping company that last serviced the system. Ask the company whether there have been any problems with the system.

How often pumping is required depends on the number of people in the house/cottage, size of home or cottage and the type of chemicals that kill the microbes required to break down the sewage in the tank.


 Examples of intermediate repairs and preventive maintenance include repairing the septic tank baffle, adding sand and wood chip filters, and installing an effluent filter.

All septic system repairs should be inspected by a licensed inspector. If you plan to add a bathroom or bedroom or an addition that increases the floor space by more than 10%, the municipal building inspector must review whether the existing system can meet the increased demand.


Check with the municipal building inspector before shopping for a new system. Regulations may restrict your options. For examples, it is no longer permissible to install a weeping bed in close proximity to a lakeshore. Septic system technology is always developing. Some new options include:

  • Aerobic treatment
  • Peat-based leaching bed
  • Combination systems
  • Shallow-buried trenches
  • Chambered systems
  • Artificial media filters


More information

 Ottawa: The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is an excellent source of informaton about well and septic systems. Go to or telephone 613-692-0160 for more iformation.

 Ontario: The Ontario Federation of Agriculture web site includes detailed resources pertaining to wells and septic systems. Go to

Technical enquiries may also be directed to: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Code Development & Technical Training Section, Housing Development and Building Branch, 777 Bay Street, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E5 or phone 416-585-6666 or Web Site:

Central Mortgage and Housing Canada (CMHC) has a wealth of information on home ownership, some of which is noted below. CMHC is located at 800 Montreal Road in Ottawa. You may wish to e-mail or contact them by: telephone at 1-800-688-2642, or by fax at 1-800-245-9274.

Order No. Series No. Title from About the House Series
62277 CE 26a Hiring a Contractor
62839 CE 35 Hiring a Home Inspector
62935 CE 39 Buying a Toilet
62896 CE 41C Water Filters
63218 CE 47 Home Maintenance Schedule

 Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) also has useful information.