The Septic Certification Process

Most American homes are connected to the municipal or local sewerage system, with only around a fifth having an on-site wastewater treatment system. Accordingly, only a few Americans are conversant with the septic tank system, especially home buyers in a rural area.

Most home buyers are also unfamiliar with the law requirements, including inspection, installation, and septic certification process. For instance, with Arizona requiring septic inspection during a transfer of ownership, a buyer may not know that the inspector must be licensed or certified. Similarly, plumbing technicians involved in septic installation need certification or licensing.

How Does a Septic System Work?

Knowing how a septic system works is vital to understand why septic certification for plumbing technicians is essential. Most septic systems consist of a septic tank, a drain field, and a distribution box. The system collects, treats, and disposes wastewater as part of the home plumbing system.

The septic system separates the wastewater into solids or sludge, floatable materials or scum, and liquid waste or effluent. The sludge naturally settles at the bottom of the tank, the scum settles at the top, and the liquid waste in the middle, where it is discharged through perforated pipes into an adjoining drain field.

The soil and other elements in the drain field naturally filter and purify the effluent or watery mix before it returns to the groundwater. While bacteria and other microorganisms in the septic tank consume and dissolve some of the sludge and scum, a homeowner needs to periodically pump it out as it can fill the tank after some time.

Why is Certification Necessary?

Most states, including Arizona, require septic technicians or professionals to be certified or licensed. A septic system is essential, and one of the most expensive plumbing features in a home or property. Its installation involves a lot of technical work and cannot be done by anyone. Typically, not everyone understands how a properly functioning septic system should work.

A poorly designed septic system is bad for homeowners and the community as it can adversely affect the environment. First, for homeowners, a malfunctioning septic system is a health hazard and expensive to maintain. A home’s pipes are connected to the septic system, and any malfunctioning that causes wastewater to back up into the house can be a health hazard.

Essentially, filthy water or sewage backing up into the kitchen sink, toilet, or bathroom can make you and your family sick. Accordingly, you will need to keep addressing such septic issues, while the main problem could be that an unqualified septic installer poorly designed your septic tank. It can end up costing you thousands of dollars in repair or even replacement costs.

Septic tank systems are supposed to be environmentally friendly. They should protect public health by minimizing the contaminants reaching the groundwater. Typically, a septic system is designed so that scum and sludge never enter the drain field. However, a poorly designed septic system or a lack of maintenance can lead to dangerous seepage of these waste materials into the drain field, eventually contaminating groundwater.

Accordingly, there is a need for qualified septic technicians or professionals to install, inspect and maintain these on-site wastewater treatment systems. Certification or licensing is essential in identifying qualified technicians, considering what is at stake for property owners/buyers and the environment.

Who Certifies Septic Technicians?

Arizona law requires a certification for all septic system technicians and professionals, including installers, inspectors, and cleaners. As the regulator of on-site wastewater treatment systems, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is responsible for licensing these professionals. However, training and related certification are usually done by different institutions, including the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT).

The NAWT training and certification process ensures that all septic technicians have the necessary skills and experience to perform the required tasks. Septic certification involves comprehensive training. For instance, septic inspectors must complete an installation and maintenance-related course before qualifying for the inspector training program. They must then complete the inspection course and pass a rigorous exam to be NAWT certified.

Upon completion of respective training programs, NAWT issues trainees or participants with a Certificate of Completion. While Arizona requires certificates of completion for each of the different areas of specialization, including installation and inspection, some states only require one certificate for everything.

Certification Renewal

NAWT certification lasts only two years, and a practicing septic technician must renew their NAWT Certificate of Completion every two years. Renewal requirements include proof of continuing education by attending an 8-hours (1-day) training on inspection and other related competencies. The law requires a technician to submit proof of continuing education anytime during the two-year certification period.

Can Home Owners Self-Install Septic Systems?

According to Arizona’s septic regulations, anyone wishing to install a septic system as part of their property needs a permit. Typically, property developers perform several tasks before they start building, including site evaluation. Whether a property requires a septic system and where to install it is part of these pre-building tasks.

After a site evaluation, if a homeowner decides they need a septic system, they can contract a licensed septic professional to install one. While homeowners can install the system by themselves, the law requires licensed septic contractors to be involved in installing all septic systems for properties intended for re-sale within a year of completion.

Whether self-installing or contracting a septic technician, you need authorization to construct and operate a septic system. While the authorization or permit differs from septic certification for technicians and professionals, it is hard to get it if you don’t know what you are doing. Additionally, ADEQ and the Health Department inspect the construction at every step until completion.

Bottom Line

There is so much at stake in the installation and maintenance of septic systems. A poorly designed septic system is bad for homeowners and the environment. Through ADEQ, NAWT, and other government departments and institutions, Arizona’s septic certification process seeks to ensure that only qualified professionals do septic system-related tasks.

Hiring a non-certified septic technician is unlawful and endangers you, your family, and the larger community through adverse environmental impact. If you are looking for certified septic technicians, we are here for you. All our septic technicians at Curtis Plumbing, including inspectors, installers, and cleaners, are certified and licensed. Contact us today to schedule an inspection or regular maintenance, or learn more about our services.