September 20, 2021

How's Business?—The SludgeHammer: Alternative to Costly Septic Repairs



Topangans love their septic systems. Except when they fail.

That’s when sticker shock sets in like a sledgehammer and homeowners realize the cost of upgrading an old system or installing a new one can be upwards of $60,000.

Maurice Bourget of Bourget Construction and Topanga Septic says being pro-active in the care, feeding and maintenance of your septic is the key to prolonging its life and reducing waste to the environment, which is how the SludgeHammer came to Topanga..

Will Wicks, local installer and distributor for Topanga Septic, describes SludgeHammer as a small but powerful weapon to battle sludge and scum.

“It’s a highly advanced microbe generation system that makes your septic tank self-cleaning,” he explains. “The bacteria blend eats organic waste, toilet paper and almost anything you can put down a garbage disposal.”

Dan Wickham, Ph.D., a marine biologist and environmental activist, who served as president of the Russian RiverKeepers Association, developed the Sludgehammer after working for many years detoxifying petroleum-contaminated soil using microorganisms.

He worked with bacteria in the field of bioremediation of contaminated soil, and eventually developed his breakthrough concept, the Aerobic Bacterial Generator (ABG). That opened the pathway to apply advanced biotechnology to wastewater treatment in a simple and economic fashion.

Upon discovering that these bacteria could clean soil, he helped create a method to use the bacteria to clear clogged septic leach fields in 2000. His latest version of the SludgeHammer is fully refined, tested and is working in thousands of septic systems and larger industrial waste systems throughout the world.

Wastewater pollution from septic tanks is another concern that this system addresses. It not only eliminates sludge, it also reclaims leach fields and produces an end product of water perfect for drip irrigation, all while operating on about as much energy as it takes to power a common light bulb, saving money every day. It also does away with the smell of a faulty septic system.

“We’ve been working with Rosi Dagit, [Senior Biologist for the Resource Conservation District], in an effort to see if the SludgeHammer can help protect the groundwater and creeks of Topanga,” Wicks said.

Dagit is one of the homeowners who installed the SludgeHammer at her home and, as a biologist, she saw the system as a potential alternative solution to costly and cumbersome current county-approved systems. She began working with Topanga Septic to see if the SludgeHammer system could meet the three criteria set by both county and state to become another approved system.

“It’s like a pilot study. We started with two systems, my own and another one,” Dagit said. We sampled them before activating the SludgeHammer and then did one follow-up test after it ran for a period of time. We more than accomplished one of the requirements: to reduce total nitrogen content by half.

“This truly does two important things: it extends the life of the leach field significantly and it’s very cost effective. The advantage of SludgeHammer is it goes into your tank, thus avoiding the elements and equipment needed for the current systems approved—and required—by the county.

“None of these things are one size fits all, but this is a wonderful tool to add to the toolbox,” Dagit added. “Septic tanks are good for managing our waste and have worked for many, many years. We need our septic tanks to work well. When they don’t, they pollute.”

Maintenance of the system is key. In their experience, Bourget and Wicks don’t see other companies that use similar technologies providing the maintenance services they do.

“Lack of maintenance results in disconnected air pumps with dead bacteria and a tank full of solids,” they say. “Competitor claims that you can just put a ‘magic unit’ in your tank and forget it, aren’t true. As with any technology, proper installation and maintenance are necessary for it to work and do its job.”

For homeowners who fear they may have to replace or seriously upgrade their aging septics, they may want to consider the SludgeHammer. Its units can be placed into existing septic systems—right into the tank—meaning easy installation without the high cost of building a completely new septic system. No new tanks or retrofits are necessary—just a small air pump and the SludgeHammer system to let nature do what it does best.

“Topanga Septic has installed about 30 systems throughout the Canyon just in the year since I started working here, ” Wicks said. “Being proactive with your septic system really is worth it. The longer you can prolong your system and reduce waste to the environment, the better.”

For information:(310)455-4015.