Are your customers listening?

Consumer education is key to preserving a new onsite system

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After you install a new onsite system and you’re explaining its limitations to the homeowners, do you ever wonder how well they’re is listening? Installers and pumpers often tell me their customers know less and less about how to how to live with a septic system. 

The customers are often city folk who are used to the bottomless pit of wastewater that is the sewer system. They have always performed marathon laundry sessions, processing load after load over the weekend. They have teen-aged children who are accustomed to taking hour-long showers. They think nothing of inviting 100 guests over for a backyard party where toilets in all four bathrooms are receiving flush after flush.

For some, these habits don’t change much when they build that big dream home in the country, just beyond the reach of the municipal sewer. When the septic system is in and the lawn is seeded over, you sit down with the homeowners and lay out the rules for water conservation and tell them to spread out the heavy water-use activities. Are they always paying attention?

When I see stories like this one in the South Jersey Times, I can’t help but wonder if some of the neighborhood’s septic issues are brought on by misuse:

The story outlines how many homes in this newer subdivision have failing or overloaded septic systems. One homeowner, pictured in front of his beautiful brick Colonial Style home, laments the condition of his septic system and wonders who should be held responsible.

“The house is only seven years old but currently there’s water and a failed drainfield,’’ he tells the newspaper. Several residents are puzzled over the symptoms of system failure in homes less than a decade old.

While I’m not saying the homeowners are responsible for the failing systems – the circumstances aren’t detailed – I have to wonder if all of the homeowners heeded the practical advice of their system installers. Since these situations can come back to haunt the installer, it remains important to stress homeowner education 

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