Tough Jobs: A-1 Septic Tank Cleaning
SEPTIC TANKS ARE NOT usually at the top of our minds, but when they are not working as they should, we definitely notice.
A-1 Septic Tank Cleaning is a family-owned septic tank and grease trap servicing company that has been serving the Topeka area since 1947, through three generations of family.
Owner Tamara Russell says that her grandfather, Henry Howland, started the business in 1947 with a focus on roadside rest stops, then expanded.
“My father went full-time in 1973, and handled most of the business until 2002, when my husband Brian Russell took over doing the driving and invoices and all the hands-on work,“ Russell said.
“I took over the books and accounting that year, too, but my father answered phones and managed the schedule until he passed in 2009.”
”Russell says that usually when people call, it is because they have heard gurgling, noticed standing water in their yard, or smelled something unpleasant. A-1’s focus is on the septic tank, not plumbing, but Tamara says that they often help people determine if a plumber’s services are needed.
Russell notes that one big challenge is that for septic tanks, the company is usually being called in response to a problem, and heavy rain makes those problems worse.
“This was a challenging year,” Russel said, laughing. “Rain makes it hard to get in to do work, and you have to be careful, because if it’s an older system and you pump it too much, it could collapse. Sometimes the work has to wait, and that’s difficult for people.
“This was a challenging year,” Russell said, laughing. “Rain makes it hard to get in to do the work, and you have to be careful, because if it’s an older system and you pump it too much, it could collapse. Sometimes the work has to wait, and that’s difficult for people.”
Russell offered a few tips to help folks take better care of their systems. One reminder is that septic tanks do require maintenance.
“We don’t always think about these systems, but a septic tank is never maintenance free,” Russell said. “We recommend that you invest in better toilet paper, it’s easier on your system. And baker’s yeast is a great, chemical-free way to take care of your system. You can call us if you have questions, and we’ll give you some tips.”
Russell was raised in the business and remembers helping out and riding with her father to jobs as a child. She is proud that her family has helped others in the community for generations.
“We like helping people,” Russell said, “especially our repeat customers. We’ve worked with a lot of restaurants for years and years now. We do steady business, because we have great reviews and a long reputation of service.”