What To Do If You Fail A Dye Test

Are you struggling to sell off your house because it failed a dye test? Well, you are not alone; many U.S. homeowners find themselves in the same situation every year.

A dye test is conducted to determine whether or not your home plumbing is properly connected to your city’s sewer system. There are two-types of sewer systems: sanitary-only and combined sewer. If you live in a sanitary sewer area, your sewer is only meant to handle steady, consistent waste flow from your house. Improperly connecting your drains or downspouts to the sewer system can create rapid and sudden surges in rainwater and cause the system to overflow. An overflow can flood rivers and streams with waste and chemicals, and destroy the local ecology.

The problem is important enough that the federal government has ordered the states to ensure every house passes the dye test. Once a property meets the compliance criteria, homeowners receive the “Evidence of Compliance Certificate.”

If your home fails the dye test, you may have to shell out between $30,000 and $40,000 to fix the issue. Obviously, this is horrifying, so let’s take a quick look at the dye test process and what you can do to remedy an improperly connected plumbing system.

What happens during a dye test

During a dye test, a special fluorescent dye is flushed down a drain or downspout on your property. An inspector will then examine the surrounding area for any traces of dyed water.

Preparing for the dye test

If your home has a septic tank, DO NOT pump it before the test. If the inspector notices any disturbed soil, he can fail you immediately. There have been instances when homeowners poured bleach into the water supply, toilet, or septic tank to fool the inspector, but trying to fudge the results can backfire and cause you to fail the test.

The Inspection

During inspection, the inspector checks your yard drain, driveway drain, subsurface drain, and ensures that they are not connected to a sanitary-only sewer.

What happens if you fail


If you fail the dye test, you will most likely have to connect your property’s downspouts into the storm water sewer. However, as mentioned above, this can cost you thousands of dollars, and in some cases, cost you more than the value of your house.

Luckily, residents of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area may be able to benefit from a recently proposed bill which would give homeowners loans or grants to help pay for the cost of dying their drain systems. If you’re facing expensive repair costs, we recommend that you contact our local government and ask about your loan and/or grant options.

Unfortunately, dye tests might be here to stay. But, only houses in certain areas will encounter problems, so always make sure you know the facts before you get too worried.

If you are in need of a consultation, or just have some plumbing questions, call Terry’s Plumbing. We’re ready to solve all of your plumbing needs.

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