Cincinnati-area plumbing expert discusses septic tanks
Photo courtesy of Tony Rutledge | Servicing your septic or sewer system on a regular basis can prevent a smelly situation.
Who we talked to
Tony Rutledge, service manager
6141 Centre Park Drive
West Chester, Ohio
Since 1958, Winelco Inc. has helped Cincinnati residents rid themselves of their most unmentionable byproduct. Following a friend's suggestion, Tony Rutledge joined the company in 1986.
"I've had strange reactions from people when I tell them what I do," Rutledge says. "It's not quite what most people think it is."
How can a homeowner keep their septic tank or aerobic system in top condition?
"Make sure absolutely no grease and nothing non-biodegradable like regular paper, latex or feminine products goes down the drain. There's a saying in the industry that if it's not something you'd eat - other than what you usually do when you're in the restroom - don't let it go down the drain. Then, the best thing is to conserve water. If you're doing all your laundry on one day and not conserving water, you could be overloading the system's capacity."
How often should you get your septic tank pumped?
"Every two and five years. People who throw everything they can down the drain will probably need their tank pumped every two years. People who conserve water and are careful about what goes down the drain can go about five to six years between pumping. Wet spots in the yard and, obviously, sewage backing up into the floor drain can indicate a problem."
What are the most common services you provide for septic and aerobic systems?
"A common problem for an aerobic system is the motor or blower. Usually we'll repair it in our shop and have it back in within a week. The system remains operable without the motor or we'll provide a loaner motor. The price is generally anywhere from $160 to $800, depending on the motor's brand. Pumping is the most common service for septic system tanks. The price depends on how much each county charges for dumping the tank's contents at their wastewater treatment plant. For the most expensive county, the most we charge for pumping alone is about $275 for 1,000 gallons or less."
What's the strangest thing you've seen in a septic tank?
"A few years back, we had a tank lid open and the customer's dog ran out and fell in. It was mostly empty, so we just climbed down and got it out."