Unger Recommends All HSV Homes Have a Popper Clean-Out Relief Valve

At the Public Services Committee Meeting on Thursday, April 27, 2023, HSVPOA Board Director Bruce Caverly inquired about a recent sewer backup in which a clean-out line was not installed between the sewer tank and the home. There was a question about whether the POA or the homeowner is responsible for sewer system backup damages. In this case, it was a triple failure with the homeowners’ line and the POA valve failing. In addition, the alarm failed as well.

In a recent HSV Voice article, Unger was asked, “Is there supposed to be an access point between my house and the sewer tank in my yard that someone can use to clean out the sewer line if necessary?”

Unger responded to the Voice, “Depends. When a new house is built today, there should be a clean-out on the line between the home and the tank.” This clean-out is the homeowner’s responsibility.

At the Public Services Committee Meeting, Unger said, “Unfortunately, in many older homes, these clean-outs were not required and not installed when the home was built. The Public Services Department highly recommends that residents have a Popper Clean-out Cap installed in case of a problem with the tank outside their home. This could prevent sewage from backing into a resident’s home in case of a system failure.”

Who Pays to Maintain the Sewage Systems?

This topic concerns the sewage systems owned by property owners (located on private property). Before 2017, the homeowner was responsible for paying for the repair of their grinder tanks (sewer system). The POA performed the work and billed the property owners for materials only. Pump costs were around $1,300, which could be a hardship for homeowners. Unger also said, “The floats and other parts are not cheap.”

“It was agreed that for $1 a month, the POA would take responsibility for repairing/replacing failed tanks,” explained Unger. The POA never took ownership of the tanks. The homeowner still owns the tanks. The POA accepted responsibility for the repair or replacement (if necessary) of the grinder tank systems but not the maintenance. Unger said, “We would need an army to maintain 9,000 tanks.”

The POA does not break even with this $1-a-month repair/replacement program. The repair/replacement costs to the POA are around $2 to $3 monthly. The POA collects around $108,000 per year from the $1 a month fee, but materials last year alone cost the POA $150,000 to $200,000. With wages added in, it costs us between $200,000 and $300,000 annually. Unger said he would talk to the Board Directors about how to handle this and will discuss this issue in another Public Service Committee meeting.

Maintaining Sewage Systems Located on Privately-owned Property

The homeowner is responsible for maintaining their individual sewage systems on their property. Unger said, “What does maintenance mean? Check the alarm panel, floats, and pumps. You check your air conditioner every year. We didn’t take on the obligation of maintaining the grinder tank systems. We took on the repair if something were to fail.”

In addition, the homeowner is responsible for the sewage line to the road, not the POA.

Unger explained, “My goal is to ensure people know the risks. We have to get it out there. We want to avoid this happening again.”

Contact Information for HSVPOA Public Services Director

Ken Unger
Director Public Services
Hot Springs Village

By Cheryl Dowden