Questions to ask licensed professionals

Septic System Professionals are certified by the state and hold business licenses that require bonding and insurance protection. Most local SSTS programs maintain a list of local professionals currently licensed by the state to conduct this specialized work.

Interview your septic system professional and learn about how they do business. Make sure they are licensed, reputable, and reliable by asking for and checking references. The right questions to ask of potential septic system professionals depend on what type of service you are seeking. The following scenarios are the most likely instances in which you will find yourself hiring a septic professional.

Suggested interview questions to troubleshoot, repair, or replace a septic system:

  • Can you provide a complete failure analysis?
  • How many years have you been in the industry?
  • Are you a member of MOWA or other professional organization?
  • Are you a basic or advanced designer?
  • Do you install systems as well?
  • Do you maintain systems as well?
  • Can you provide me the contact info for you last three designs?

Suggested interview questions for buildings other than single-family dwellings:

  • Do you have experience dealing with challenging sites?
  • What alternatives to conventional systems are you familiar with?
  • For what types of "other establishments" have you designed septic systems?
  • How much does a design cost and what is included with the design service?
  • Do you do design/build?
  • Do you support bidding on your designs?
  • Will you share a copy of a management plan you have developed?
  • Who will take care of getting the septic permit?
  • Have you worked in this jurisdiction before?
  • What resources do you utilize if a question or problem arises?
  • What was the last mistake you made and how did you rectify it?

Suggested interview questions for hiring a professional to maintain your septic system:

Through which access do you pump the tank?

A: It is important that your maintainer evacuate the contents of your tank through the maintenance hole. If they state that they can remove the contents through the inspection pipe, they are not doing the job correctly. A good maintainer will recommend that you install a riser to create surface access to your tank. While this is your choice, you can save money by not paying them to dig up your maintenance access every time they visit your system.

Do you completely remove the contents of the tank? How?

A: A maintainer needs to either vacuum and back flush the contents of the tank or stir the contents into a slurry in order to remove all of the septage. If they do not mention either of these activities, call another maintainer!

Do you recommend the use of additives?

A: Additives are not necessary for proper tank operation.

Do you certify all of your employees?

A: Only one person in a company needs to be certified in Minnesota. Find a company that values education and maintains certification for all of their employees.

Where do you take the septage after removing it from my tank?

A: Septic tank maintainers know that they can either land apply the septage in certified locations or take it to a wastewater treatment plant that accepts this waste. If they tell you not to worry about where it goes, or that you can save money by allowing them to dump it in a nearby ditch, call another maintainer!

How much does it cost?

A: The cost of proper tank management varies across the state. The cost should not be the primary factor by which you choose a professional. Doing a good job takes time and is worth paying a little more for.