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Every week, we fix septic systems that were previously repaired or installed incorrectly or patched over with something cheap but not right for the job. Homeowners become discouraged because they paid possibly thousands of dollars for a product that failed before its time.

After such a bad experience, homeowners soon believe that all service providers are not to be trusted. To help overcome that fear, we’re providing a few ways to spot a scam when you need service, repairs, or even a new septic system – one of the most expensive systems in your home.

1. Get Proof of Insurance

Did you know New Jersey requires all home improvement contractors to submit their proof of insurance with the proposal? That means you shouldn’t need to hunt it down. If a contractor says they’re fully insured, they should provide this document to you immediately without questions.

If you think insurance is just a barrier to a better price, you should definitely reconsider. If the contractor is injured on your property – you could be liable!

2. Make Sure They Use the Right Tools for the Job

In just the past few months, we have replaced at least five sump pumps from client’s septic systems. Why? Because a sump pump is not a septic pump! If a contractor tries to “save you money” by installing the wrong product for the job, they are not actually saving you money. When the product fails, they will most likely not return your calls (based on our clients’ experiences), and you’ll end up paying more to repair the damage.

3. Don’t Pump Before Inspection

Buying or selling your home? Do not allow the septic to be pumped for at least two weeks before a home inspection. While this may seem like a nice gesture from the homeowner, you cannot properly inspect a septic system when the tank is empty! During inspection, the tank needs to be at operating level to ensure it’s working properly — making it easy to notice potential leakage, incorrect installation, or settling.

4. Don’t Buy Unnecessary Additives

This is one of the most common scams in the septic industry, and it’s extremely enticing. A septic service provider will suggest flushing a bacteria or chemical additive to help break down waste in your tank. Unfortunately, this has never been proven to extend the life of your septic system! Your septic has all the naturally-occurring bacteria it needs to run efficiently. These septic additives are simply a way to boost profit for the service company without any measurable benefit to the homeowner. These products are also commonly sold at large home improvement stores.

Certain drain cleaning products are necessary, and you should use them to maintain the drains in your house and help prevent blockages as recommended. But do not fall for this popular scam that has no scientific backing.

Protect Your Home from Scams

With these large purchases, you may be tempted just to choose the lowest bid without too much research. But this could cost you even more money in the long run. Look out for these common scams, and you can still trust your gut — does the contractor feel evasive? Hard to reach? Avoiding specific questions? Do they have great online reviews?

Make sure you’re choosing an expert who will act in the best interest of your home and property.