We have a contractor working a plumbing job for us in a bathroom. The inspection passed, however as he was walking out, he asked about where our washing machine drained to. I said it was to a dry well that was done by a plumbing company, it is not tied to the septic tank. We have plans to do that but not in the immediate future.

He said that wasn't legal and we'll want to fix that at some point. I couldn't tell, but can he take this to the county and issue us a fine or worse? The washer isn't part of the permit that was pulled for the work, JUST the bathroom stuff.

HOME: I wanted to provide an update. Turns out he can hold final inspection because I revealed the information. Maybe the General Contractor could have fought harder but in the end I revealed information that I probably shouldn't have. We ended up having to tie the washing to septic. It wasn't a huge deal, a morning of digging and and hour for the plumber to hook up the pipe.

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    Seems he was just passing along information to be nice. But you might want to get it fixed sooner than later, but he can make an issue out of it. Plumbing company should have known what was allowed, so they might make it right, unless you demanded they where they placed the drain. – crip659 Feb 17 at 18:30
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    Dry wells over time plug up yours sounds like it was well done, it must have been in a strange place so the inspector noticed it. I would doubt you have anything to worry about.+ good question. – Ed Beal Feb 17 at 19:27
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    Words and definitions matter, what company did might be allowed by locals where a 'dry well' is not. Talk is good. – crip659 Feb 17 at 19:42
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    Hah! I used to live in a town which banned dry wells. The adjacent town (both without muni sewers) required dry wells for "grey water" discharge. Sometimes rules are boneheaded. – Carl Witthoft Feb 18 at 19:45
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    Thanks for coming back with the update, @Robb, but please put it in the answer box, below, since it's really an answer, and this isn't a general discussion forum. – FreeMan May 10 at 14:29

This widely varies by municipality.

In general - big generalization - if this is something that isn't in the permit, something that is not being currently worked on, and something that is not an occupancy danger is out of scope for an inspector when visiting during a permit sign-off.

  • Isn't on permit - pretty clear your wash machine is not part of bathroom
  • Something that is not being currently worked on - so let's say you were getting this sign-off but then inspector notices you have outlets open in the room with the washer. It doesn't take much and inspectors will say you are working on something to be permitted. For instance I hide my toilets (boxes included) when doing minor refacing of a bathroom - which may include new vanity, new toilet, update plumbing (not change it - just make sure it is right and not old parts that may fail), and a paint job. Inspectors see the toilet in the garage when inspecting something else... "what else do you have going on here". Then I have to have an inspector out 3 times and quirky rules for a facelift. Yours is clearly not being worked on, but this is a very hazy area!
  • occupancy danger - this would normally be under electrical issue or fire rating issue. There is other gray area but don't think a washing machine hose could get there.

Now the other thing to think about is that some cities have presell inspections that have to take place before you can sell your home (not the buyer's inspection). If your city requires that I would figure that that drain-off that you currently have will not pass. I would also figure anyone who has your house inspected will have this noted and may require you to make it code before buying.

If I were in your house and might sell it the next couple years I would probably call inspector, and just ask about it. What can I do to make it code? Most inspectors will give you advice on this, especially basic plumbing requirements. If I were planning on living in house for next 10+ years... there will probably be a new inspector by then.

  • This makes sense. I do plan to tie it together it just would require a lot of digging as I have to do it outside to get it to the tank. And the drain tile thing we had put in is pretty good, before it was a super cheap french drain!!! No plans to sell for a long time, 20+ years. – Robb Feb 17 at 21:32
  • I would not worry about it then. If it works I wouldn't worry about it unless you have plans to do a lot more laundry. I guess this grey water issue is really a winter issue. There are systems that will store this type of water for gardening and meet code and very DIY friendly. – DMoore Feb 18 at 4:22

Short of it: Yes he can hold final inspection because of revealed information. Possibly your GC could fight for it but we decided to just tie in the washer to septic as it wasn't that much work (some digging and some pipe).

I'd like to think if I had said "this isn't part of the project" he would have left it but I suspect he may have been able to hold final until he knew 100% everything was tied to septic.

  • Now that your laundry drains to your septic tank, it's wise to remember laundry day can discharge a lot of water, potentially enough to fill the septic tank and cause damage to the leechfield. If you don't already have a septic tank alarm, get one. This can inform you when the water level in the tank is high, allowing you to decide not to do any more laundry for the day, or take a shorter shower, to avoid long-term damage to your septic installation. – Jeff Wheeler May 10 at 18:36
  • I've not heard of these and I've lived on septic most of my life. I'll look into it. Septic tank and drain field were done 2 years ago to code. – Robb May 10 at 19:06

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