South-Central Kentucky Dirty Jobs: Septic Tank Cleaner

By: Daniel Kemp Email
By: Daniel Kemp Email

Almost everyone has to work to survive, but there are some jobs that are just too tough for many to stomach. We found out just how dirty those jobs are, as Daniel Kemp gave one man a hand, who earns a living making other people's business--his business.

"We don't set certain hours. We're open when they need a job done," Philip Lamastus said.

And that job's a dirty one Philip Lamastus faces daily. Having retired from the garbage business after nearly 32 years, Philip soon found a different calling--cleaning septic tanks.

"I had been around this quite a bit. So I decided I wanted to get me some trucks and go back in and do this," the septic tank cleaner said.

It's a job common in rural areas, which aren't hooked up to city sewers. And a job I was able to lend a helping hand to.

"Most of the labor's done with a shovel and pick," Philip assured.

After a small dig, the lid's ready to come off and we're ready to pump.

But like a chef mixing settled ingredients in a soup, Philip must first, well--"stir the pot."

"We've seen some people come out before and say 'Shew, that stinks!' We say it smells like money to us," Philip admitted.

But the stench isn't stopping me from jumping in and testing out his technique.

So after a quick mix, we back up the truck, put the hose in place and with a push of a button and a pull of a lever, we're sucking more than a thousand gallons of wastewater from the underground tank.

But cleaning these tanks isn't what Philip considers the best part of the job.

"I like meeting people and talking to people. But I also like to be able to help people. If they call me late of a night or early of a morning, or on a Sunday-if they can't flush their commode, I consider that an ox in a ditch, so we go," Philip said.

But with the good comes the bad.

And Philip says stopped up sewage lines have definitely been bad.

"I've cut many a lines and that sewage would just run out and you're laying in it like a swimming pool and it was all around and somebody would say, 'Why didn't you run?' And I say, 'There ain't no place to run!'" he assured.

Luckily, no one is running from this job today.

And after a rinse and a little post-pump cleanup, this tank is again clean and ready for service.

As for all the gallons of sludge, waste and water we vacuumed out? It all gets recycled.

"It will go through a treatment plant and it'll be treated," Philip said.

And flow right back into your home to re-use again. It's a process Phillip can certainly assure--

"It's a dirty job."

Philip adds that his job is one he's always enjoyed.

He also recommends having your septic tank pumped once every three years.

And if you have any dirty job ideas, send them to

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