A simple telescoping pole mirror is a go-to inspection tool for Ohio’s A-1 Septic.

Mike Mutchler, co-owner of A-1 Septic Tank Cleaning of Wooster, Ohio, believes in adopting the best technology for the job. However, the one tool he says he couldn’t possibly live without is a surprisingly low-tech choice — an aluminum inspection pole by Mr. LongArm Inc., with acrylic mirrors.

The lightweight aluminum pole scopes from 3 to 6 feet and comes with two interchangeable aluminum mirrors, one 4 by 6 inches tall and the other 6 by 6 inches. The knuckle fitting allows the mirror to swivel 180 degrees. The pole can be outfitted with an optional clamp-on battery-powered flashlight to provide additional visibility.

“I have had that tool with me in the truck since I bought it around 10 years ago and I can safely say I use it almost daily,” says Mutchler. “By shining the light onto the mirror, you can direct the light to whatever tank feature you’re inspecting. It’s essential for any work I do on septic tanks.”

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Mutchler makes it a point to inspect every septic tank that he’s pumping. He also likes to hand dig any job with earth coverage of less than 3 feet using a plain old hand shovel. Once he uncovers the structure, checking the condition of the baffles prior to pumping is very important. If they’re in bad shape, concrete outflow baffles can drop chunks of concrete into secondary tanks during pumping.

“I’m also checking to make sure the pipes don’t have cracks and making certain that the tank is watertight and structurally sound. The last thing you want to do for someone is pump their tank and then open up the newspaper a few days later and read that a guy mowing his lawn broke through the ground and fell into his septic tank.”

Mutchler wipes the mirrors between inspections using antibacterial hand sanitizer and a cloth. The different mirror sizes come in handy to inspect tanks with tighter access requirements.

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“Some of the people who built these septic tanks used 6-inch tile risers and I can’t use the 6- by 6-inch mirrors there,” says Mutchler. “You can easily switch out the bigger mirror for the 4- by 6-inch version and get into those tighter access points.”

Check out a full profile and a video interview with Mike Mutchler. 

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