Help, I think my septic was installed illegally!

Please be aware, this post is specific to Oklahoma regulations. If you are not in Oklahoma and have a concern about your septic system, start by contacting your local health department.

People usually make their way here because they’ve bought a new house or installed a new system and they are having a problem.

They’ve reached out to their builder or their installer for repairs only to discover something is fishy.  That could be a number of things:

  • The builder “doesn’t know” who installed the system
  • Your system needs repairs but the installer can’t be found or refuses to make them
  • Or, you need a copy of the DEQ paperwork only to discover it doesn’t exist.

Now what?

If you’ve exhausted all avenues of working with (or finding) the installer start with filing a DEQ complaint.  Include as much info as you can.  Now, don’t expect much out of the complaint.  At best, you may be able to discover who installed the system (if they filed any paperwork).  The DEQ strives for compliance over enforcement so they won’t force the installer to make repairs, they will only ask nicely and they can threaten to pull the bond to pay for repairs if it was a certified installer.  Regardless, this is the first step of documenting the issue for a future lawsuit or Attorney General case if the installer is a serial offender.  Speaking of the AG, don’t forget to file a case with their office as well if the DEQ can’t get it resolved.

Finally, if you feel the DEQ didn’t properly investigate the complaint.  You can also reach out to the Oklahoma Onsite Wastewater Association.  

What Exactly Are the Rules?

Oklahoma has gotten a reputation as the Wild West within the national wastewater industry.  That’s because our regulations are weak compared to other states.  However, there are a few rules the homeowner should be aware of.

  1. Every septic system requires a permit.  It doesn’t matter if you’re outside city limits.
  2. You are entitled to 2 years of warranty and maintenance on all new aerobic systems.
  3. Installers are required to keep their paperwork for 3 years.
  4. Paperwork will be on file with the DEQ for legally installed systems.

If an installer (or builder) tells you otherwise, you need to be concerned.

Prevention is Better Than the Cure

Even though Oklahoma rules are weak, you can take a few simple steps to help protect yourself.

  • Verify your installer is certified using the DEQ installer database
  • Ask to see a copy of the Authorization to Construct before the installation and/or a copy of the approved final.
Example of an Authorization to Construct (ATC) permit issued by the Oklahoma DEQ to Cyclone Septics to install a septic system
DEQ Authorization to Construct (ATC), also known as the permit.
example of an Oklahoma DEQ septic final
Current DEQ final. Form my be different depending on when system was installed. Verify it is signed by a DEQ specialist.

If you are struggling with a system you think was bootlegged or one the installer won’t repair, contact us.  We’ve helped dozens of homeowners repair faulty systems and walked them through the steps for filing a complaint.  

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