What’s the Difference Between a System Inspector (SI) And a Soil Evaluator (SE)?

Posted on: 12 August 2021

If you live in Massachusetts, your home's septic system must adhere to environmental guidelines under Title V. These rules cover several aspects of septic systems, including installation and long-term maintenance. You'll typically need to schedule a Title V inspection if you're selling your home, expanding it, or otherwise changing the configuration or load requirements of your septic system.

When you need to inspect an aspect of your septic system under Title V, you'll need a system inspector (SI), soil evaluator (SE), or both. Understanding how these roles differ is a critical part of hiring the right company or contractor to perform your inspection and remain in compliance with state law.

Soil Evaluators (SI)

What They Do: Your home's septic system relies on the soil to properly disperse and treat wastewater. Soil that lacks proper drainage or suffers from other issues can impact the efficiency of a septic drain field. These problems can cause the system to back up or even lead to significant groundwater contamination issues.

Soil evaluators are certified professionals who inspect and test the soil on your property. Soil evaluators can work for both homeowners and local boards of health since municipalities typically need to review and approve new septic installations.

When You Need One: You won't usually need a soil evaluator for a standard Title V inspection. Instead, Title V requires a soil evaluator to inspect your property when installing a new septic system. They will check the soil to confirm that it can adequately deal with effluent flow from a septic leaching field. You'll usually need to present this inspection report to your local health board for approval.

System Inspectors (SE)

What They Do: System inspectors are certified to check all aspects of a septic system, but they're also a bit like detectives. In addition to physically inspecting the components on your property, a system inspector will also collect records relating to the system's original construction and pumping history. This documentation helps them build a complete picture of your system's health.

System inspectors also review the functionality of the system. You can expect an inspection to include a brief interior visit, where the inspector will confirm that drains and toilets function correctly. They will also use this time to look for signs (such as slow running drains, odors, or noises) that might indicate a maintenance issue with your system.

When You Need One: You'll usually need an SI to conduct a Title V inspection any time a home changes hands, including when you sell, buy, or gift a house. You will also need to arrange for a Title V inspection if your septic system requirements change, such as when building a new addition. Finally, expect to schedule an additional inspection within two years after fixing any issues uncovered by the first one.