(WSVN) - He is trying to follow the law to have a certified inspector check out his unique sewage system, but no one wants to do it and now he is facing fines of $500 a day. Is that legal? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When most people flush their toilet, they don’t worry about where it goes. But when you have a septic tank, that flush can bring trouble…

Raul Rodriguez, unique problem: “We don’t have anybody to maintain the system, and we have to do something.”

Raul and Teresa live in Coral Gables in a home that was built in the 1920s, and then remodeled a few years ago.

Raul Rodriguez: “And it went from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom home. Quite comfortable, centrically located, nice area.”

Many Gables homes have septic tanks and drain fields instead of county sewage. The Rodriguez family have what’s called an aerobic treatment system.

Raul Rodriguez: “They call it a drip system. The water doesn’t go out as regular sewage. It’s supposed to evaporate itself. And that is why you don’t have to use a sewage system to get rid of the waste water. It treats it and then it evaporates.”

A unique system with one catch: a certified inspector has to check the system twice a year.

Raul Rodriguez: “And then samples are sent to the health department and it’s supposed to pass, so it’s a lot more complexed.”

Then when company checking Raul’s system stopped doing this type of work, things got much more complexed…

Raul Rodriguez: “Well I’ll just call up and find me a new somebody, any septic provider. But no, they have to be certified by the manufacturer Aquaklear before they can even work it.”

Raul got the list of contractors certified by the manufacturer in Mississippi. He called 15 of them.

Raul Rodriguez: “‘We got more business than we can handle. We can’t take any.'”

Raul contacted the State of Florida to let them know he couldn’t find a certified inspector to do the work … and they delivered more bad news.

Raul Rodriguez: “They find in their records there is no maintenance agreement. We can be penalized $500 a day for non-compliance.”

Raul is trying to follow the state requirements … but can’t.

Raul Rodriguez: “What am I supposed to do in this Catch-22? Because I’ve already exhausted all my means.”

Meaning he is soon going to be fined $500 a day. Even in ritzy Coral Gables, that’s a lot of money.

Raul Rodriguez: “I can’t say the word on TV. It’s very frustrating.”

Well Howard, if the government requires you to do something and you can’t find someone certified to do it, can you be fined?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Unfortunately, yes. Whether it’s the city, county, state or feds, they have the right to punish you if you do not comply with their demands. Meaning if you can’t find someone who is certified and can’t get someone who is certified and cannot get certified yourself, you face these costly fines.”

We started by contacting Grady Tucker who owns Aquaklear in Mississippi — the system Raul has. He didn’t want to help. He told us he is busy, doesn’t talk to reporters and hung up on us.

We kept looking and luckily found All State Diversified. They agreed to sign a contract to handle Raul’s system.

Guillermo Suarez, All State Diversified: “We design them, we install them and we maintain them.”

Raul Rodriguez: “I’ve been working on this for over a year trying to contact somebody.”

Fortunately we found a company. More fortunate for Raul is he does not have to worry about those $500 a day fines anymore.

Raul Rodriguez: “Thanks for Help Me Howard, we were able to accomplish that end. Help Me Howard did a fantastic job.”

Glad we could help. Now before you install a unique system or buy a home with something unusual that requires a specialist, make you you have someone to maintain it or get certified to do it yourself, ’cause you don’t want to face government fines.

Stinking mess choking you up? Ready to clear the air? You don’t need a specialist. Contact us and see if we can flush your problems away.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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