Troubleshooting: Service Provider Responsibilities

Troubleshooting: Service Provider Responsibilities
Jim Anderson

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Before locating and troubleshooting begins, there are some actions a service provider should take when arriving at a site. Have all of the equipment and tools ready and on hand that are necessary to inspect and troubleshoot the system. Look at the whole system from an inspector’s standpoint to identify all sources of potential problems. Identify all deficiencies during the visit, not just one item.

Clearly communicate with the customer from the start, and make them aware of what you are going to do, the process to be followed and potential solutions. Present a proposed plan of action to the customer at the end of the troubleshooting effort.

Before even backing a truck into the driveway or onto the lawn, notify the homeowner that you are there to begin the process of determining what is wrong with the system and walk them through the procedures that will be used. Provide your business card and discuss how they can contact you with questions.

If the driveway is in poor condition or there has been excessive rain, explain the potential for damage to the driveway by the equipment. Similarly, if it will be necessary to drive over a portion of the lawn, discuss how potential ruts and tracks will be repaired.

It is a good idea to have the customer sign a waiver for this type of potential damage. Here is an example of what that agreement might look like:


[Company Name], has informed you that the movement of our trucks, vehicles and equipment onto or off of your property may cause damage to the property due to the weight and/or movement of the trucks, vehicles and equipment. 

By executing this Hold Harmless Agreement in the space below, you are authorizing [Company Name] to enter your property for the express purpose of moving trucks, vehicles and equipment onto or off of your property. In addition, by signing below, you agree to hold harmless [Company Name] from any and all claims, liabilities, causes of action, actions, expenses (including attorneys’ fees) and damages to property resulting from or arising out of the weight and/or movement of [Company Name] trucks and equipment on your property. 

For purposes of this Agreement, the term “property” is defined to include your driveway and surrounding areas and structures.

Other hazards or obstacles should be noted and dealt with before moving equipment into position. Weather conditions such as snow and ice should also be taken into account.

If the parking location is a distance from the actual septic site, make sure there is enough hose to reach the tanks. Low-hanging tree limbs, cars, bicycles and other hazards that are in the way should be removed. Identify any low wires or other utility lines that could interfere. Bushes, shrubs and flowerbeds that may be impacted should be identified and an agreement reached in terms of any potential damage and who is responsible to fix or replace the vegetation. The one thing you do not want is to destroy a customer’s heritage rosebush without them understanding it was in the path of solving their septic problem.

With these ideas in mind, the next part of the process is to locate the septic tank and other system components. Stay tuned!

About the Author
Jim Anderson is connected with the University of Minnesota onsite wastewater treatment education program, is an emeritus professor in the university’s Department of Soil Water and Climate, and education coordinator for the National Association of Wastewater Technicians. Send him questions about septic system maintenance and operation by email to


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