Details Home Inspections, LLC.

360.823.3034 Brian@DetailsHomeInspections.com WA Licensed Home Inspector #1533 OR OCHI#2103 Home Energy Score Assessor

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Everything You Need To Know About Your Camas Washington Septic System

At Details Home Inspections, one of our goals is educating homeowners. The city of Camas Washington has an interesting and unique approach to sewage/waste management. We get questions about this a lot and you should know that if you live in Camas Washington your home is tied into the City of Camas sewer main as a part of the municipal wastewater treatment system. 

As your professional home inspectors in Clark County WA, we would like to share some important information about the Camas WA systems so that you can come to understand what this means to you and how it might impact your home buying or home selling process. 

An Overview of Septic Tank Systems

Over time, solids collect in the septic tank and are pumped out by the City of Camas every 6-10 years. In this process, the wastewater is filtered and then pumped out to the wastewater system. You can reduce waste and protect the wastewater treatment system, your home plumbing systems, and even the environment by avoiding flushing items that do not degrade easily. 

If you have a septic tank in Camas Washington, you will have one of the following systems on your property:

A STEP System- Septic Tank Effluent Pumping System: This is your sanitary sewage system which pumps the fluids from a collection tank into the pressurized mainlines using a high head pump, alarm system, and a control panel.

A STEF System- Septic Tank Effluent Filter System: This system works by siphoning the waste instead of pumping it using a high-level alarm and an electrical panel.

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How do you know which system is on your property?

A professional home inspector can help you identify which system has been installed on your property, or a property which you're considering purchasing. We can also recommend a suitable maintenance plan and show you how to turn off the alarm. If the alarm goes off, this generally means the system needs to be serviced by the city.

Who claims ownership of the STEP/STEF system on your property?

Once your installed STEP/STEF system has been inspected and accepted, the City of Camas will actually be the owner of all components of it. The only part of the system you own is the sewer line from your residence to the tank. With the city being the owner of the system, they are also responsible for all maintenance of it and will need to be able to have access to it at all times. 

What happens if there is damage to the STEP/STEF system?

While the city claims ownership to the system, if there is damage that is due to negligence, gross negligence, or intentional acts, you as the owner will be responsible. This includes any clogging that occurs because of improper use, as stated in the City of Camas Ordinance 13.62.070.

Can I landscape over my STEP/STEF tank?

The main issue with landscaping is that the green riser lids cannot be covered up by any landscaping you choose to do on the property. This is because these lids need to be accessible at all times to ensure that the city can access it in a timely manner in the event of emergency or maintenance call. 

At Details Home Inspections, we can help you Identify the type of system you have in your current home or in a home you are planning to purchase. We can also educate you on what the presence of the system means for your life in the home and how to protect the system from damage due to improper use. Together we can come up with a maintenance plan that will work for your family.

Contact us today to schedule an inspection with your trusted home inspectors in Clark County WA or check out our Facebook page for more tips for loving your home.

Homeowners Beware of these 3 Unsafe Electrical Panels

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Do you own a home that was built before 1990? If so, you may not be aware of the outdated main electric panels/boxes that could be hiding in your home.

The scary thing about these outdated electrical panels is that they can be very unsafe. The major difference between these and your more modern electrical panels is that the old-fashioned ones don’t contain safety devices like fuses or circuit breakers that will trip and shut off the power when too much electricity flows through them. This fail-safe was added in new models to help prevent fires caused by overheating wires.

Now that we have your attention about the fact that your home may have old, outdated panels inside, here are 4 types of unsafe panels you should look out for:

Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels: From the 1950’s to the 1980s, Federal Pacific Electric was one of the most popular manufacturers of electrical panels in the United States. For this reason, they were routinely installed in millions of homes.

Residents during that time didn’t know that these panels are extremely unsafe because FPE electric panels’ circuit breakers fail to trip when there’s a short circuit or circuit overload. This problem has caused thousands of fires. These panels have also been known to send power to the circuit, even when in the off position causing electrocution even when the circuit should be dead.

Zinsco Panels: These panels were popular electrical panels and were installed in homes throughout the1970s. Nearly 50 years later the company is now out of business, but many homes are still equipped with these panels.

These panels are unsafe because the circuit breakers inside have been known to melt to the main ‘bus bar.’ Leading to a breaker that can’t ever trip, even when there’s a short or overloaded circuit. So if there ever is a short or other problem, the surge of power melts wires and starts a fire in your home.

Fuse Box: These are old electrical panels that use fuses instead of circuit breakers to protect your wires from becoming overloaded. In the event that the circuit draws too much electricity, the fuse will burn out and need to be replaced.

Fuses are not actually inherently unsafe. They work just like circuit breakers, but can’t be reset, and instead must be replaced. However, they are considered unsafe in homes today because they have been modified over time to try to keep up with today’s energy demands.

Here are a few ways that we as homeowners may create problems with fuse boxes that make them unsafe:

  • Placing too many things on a single circuit
  • Replacing a fuse with a bigger fuse
  • Replacing the fuse with something metal

What should you do if you have one of these panels?

If you have one of these 3 unsafe and outdated electrical panels, or any other outdated panels, your trusted inspectors at Details Home Inspections highly recommends replacing them. If you're not sure what type of electrical panel is in your home, contact us today at Details Home Inspections. We'd be happy to take a look and give you some recommendations.

If replacing the unsafe panel is not an option, you should have an electrician inspect the panel regularly to make sure that there are not any signs of problems that could cause fires or electrical issues in your home.


Contact us or visit our Facebook page with any questions about these panels. Safety is top priority with Details Home Inspections, your professional home inspector in Vancouver Washington.

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