Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

Septic System FAQs

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 06, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

How long does a septic system last? Properly maintained, a septic system should last for decades.

How often should you pump a septic tank? Have your septic system inspected and the tank pumped every three to five years. Check with your local health department to see what they recommend for your area.

What can I put in my septic tank? Hopefully, only your greywater and blackwater will go into your septic. Things like cigarette butts, diapers and wipes, sanitary products, paper products other than toilet paper, or a high level of cleaning products that will destroy the healthy bacteria in the tank should never be flushed or sent down the drain.

Do they need to dig up my lawn to pump my septic tank? If your tank doesn’t have an exposed lid, yes, they’ll have to remove the grass to access it. Though this will only be a small section of your yard and not the entire thing.

Does my septic need additives like Rid-X? No. A well-maintained system has everything it needs to break down the solids and create a healthy septic flora. However, seasonal homes may not get enough solid waste to produce the microbes needed for a healthy system. Only then, do experts recommend the use of additives in your septic tank. Check with your local septic tank servicer to find out their recommendations for your home.

Can I plant anything over my drain field? Yes, but be careful. The root systems of trees and shrubs can damage the underground pipes. Vegetable gardens could also become contaminated from the drainage. However, landscaping over and around a septic drain field with native plants is an appropriate use of the space. For more information on septic system inspections, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Should I Buy a Home with a Septic Tank?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 23, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank Inspection

What Are the Signs of a Failing Septic Tank?Besides pumping, septic tank inspections should be done regularly to check for leaks or clogs. Red flags that the system may have a clog include occasional bad odors and slowly draining or gurgling fixtures.

What About Maintenance Costs?

Septic system maintenance costs depend on the tank and drainfield sizes, tank accessibility, and how far away waste must be hauled for disposal. Pumping a tank might cost between $250 to $500. Know your state’s rules. Some require a septic system inspection before a title transfer. But even if your state doesn’t require an inspection, your lender might. (Conventional home inspections typically don’t include an inspection of a septic system).

According to Zillow, an inspection can detail the system’s condition, determine if it’s sited a proper distance from a well (to avoid contamination), and can confirm the absence of invasive tree roots in the drainfield, which may damage the system.

Also, know the age of the system. Prices can vary widely if you do have to replace a system. A conventional system may cost between $3,000 and $7,000, but that an alternative system may cost even more.

Owning a home with a septic tank doesn’t have to be scary. With the proper maintenance and care, you can enjoy your house for years to come.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Should You Buy a Home with a Septic System or Municipal Sewer Line?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Curious about getting a house with a septic tank or water well? Here’s what you need to know. Homebuyers deciding between a rural homestead and city living often have to consider where their water utilities will originate. Do they want to live off a well and/or a septic system? Or would they rather plug into a municipal water and sewer line if either are available?

A common question is "which is better?" The answer is that it’s not a matter of one being better than the other. In some instances there simply isn’t a choice — municipal water and sewer aren’t available.

If you do have a choice, understanding how each system works, and the pros and cons of a septic system versus city utilities can go a long way in helping you decide.

Have the septic system inspected

If you’re buying a house with a septic tank, know your state’s laws. Some require a septic inspection before a title transfer, but even if your state doesn’t, your lender might. This will be an additional cost for the buyer, as traditional home inspections don’t include a septic system.

If you are buying a house with a septic system, it is recommended that you open the tank and have a full visual inspection. Find out if it’s full of solids or is there evidence that it’s been flooded?

A basic inspection, includes probing the drain field. Probing the drain field (also called a leach field) is necessary to determine the layout of the drainage pipes below ground and the saturation level of the soil. If there are excessive wet areas, there could be a problem.

The inspection might also include a dye test, in which a fluorescent dye is injected into the system to determine if sewage is leaking. Pros and cons of a septic system h3

If “no monthly sewer bill” popped into your mind as the biggest asset to having a septic system, hold your horses. Many buyers want septic so as to avoid having sewer bills. And while it’s easy to understand this thought process, they don’t understand that there are expenses they need to consider.

Pumping out the septic tank is required to remove the sludge and scum that accumulates. How often it’s pumped is determined by the tank size and how many people live in the home.

Most tanks are 1,000 gallons for a three-bedroom house or smaller, which would average $265 to pump. A four-bedroom house or larger might require a 1,500-gallon tank, which would cost $320 to pump.

It is usually recommended you clean out your system every three to five years, but it’s going to be different depending on your local water tables and local codes. Contact your local health department for their recommendation.

Have the septic system checked by a reputable company before purchasing the property and then remember to take care of it over the years. Septics will serve you faithfully for years if you take care of the basics. For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


A Complete Septic System Installation Checklist

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 09, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction Fiskdale, MA

Did you know septic systems are still in use in almost a third of all homes in the United States? Many rural areas and some suburban areas do not have access to sewer, so new septic system construction and system repairs must be done to maintain a wastewater treatment system for the home and property.

Septic system installations can become tricky when there are a lot of variables, such as building a new home or replacing a system during a home sale. Below is our ultimate checklist with insider tips for a homeowner undergoing a septic system installation.

1. Learn state septic regulations

In most states, the government regulates septic system installations through local county and state laws. Many states will regulate septic systems and wastewater through their state environmental agency or a health department. In Massachusetts it is the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Search their website for septic system information. Many will have a whole section with information geared towards septic system owners that will give you maintenance information as well as repair and installation information.

2. Check out what septic system permits are required

Permits vary from state to state. A thorough search of the local agency’s website should tell you what permits are required in different situations and direct you to those applications. Some states also have laws that allow certain systems to be grandfathered in or exempt from needing a permit.

In some cases a property will need to be evaluated before getting an installation permit, so the local agency can determine the type of system that fits the property’s soil condition best.

And in a worst-case scenario, a few states and local rules are vague, leaving the homeowner unsure of what can be installed and how. In situations like this, we recommend choosing a local septic contractor with a good reputation — online and offline — to help you navigate the state laws.

Insider tip: Permitting and application review can take awhile, especially during summer months. We recommend planning four to six weeks ahead and asking the local agency that reviews permit applications about their current review time.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Septic Systems and Title 5: Homeowner Checklist for New Systems

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 03, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Considerations for System Design

There are two components of septic system design: soil evaluation and actual design. Soil evaluation consists of noting where your property lines may be so that test holes can be dug. These holes will locate your soil absorption system, which handles the fluid part of septic wastes. This step also includes actually digging the test holes with a backhoe and performing a soil examination and percolation test.

Soil evaluation does not have to be performed by a professional engineer, but can be done by a Massachusetts-certified Soil Evaluator. The results of the soil examination are submitted to you and the Board of Health. You can then submit the results to a chosen registered professional engineering firm for design purposes.

Questions to ask Prior to Choosing a Soil Evaluator

  • Will you provide a written estimate for all phases of the proposed work? Will you charge us for determining where our property lines are located, or use general fieldwork as determined from meeting with us today?
  • If you cannot determine the location from our plans, or from property bounds, drill holes, stakes or other property line markings, how will you determine property lines for location of the system components and soil absorption system?
  • Will the soil examination and percolation test be performed by you or a subcontractor? Will you be present to show the subcontractor where to dig the holes for location of the soil absorption system? Do the subcontractor and the heavy machine operator work directly for you, and do they carry the necessary liability insurance?
  • Will they be responsible for calling Dig Safe, if required?
  • Will the dug holes and tractor (tire) damages be filled in, graded and seeded?
  • When the soil examination is completed, will you submit a copy to the Board of Health, our chosen design engineer and us?

Questions to ask Prior to Choosing a Septic System Designer

  • Will you provide the system design to include:
  • Site visits and written estimate for all phases of the proposed work
  • Survey work for the system design
  • Review of soil evaluation test and opinion to us of the type of systems that could be installed, along with price estimates for each one
  • Draft plans for review and approval of approved system
  • Final plans submitted to Board of Health.
  • Will you provide Engineering Oversight of Construction?
  • What is your hourly charge for inspection of the contractor's work?
  • What is your estimate of total time required for this inspection, and the likely maximum costs?

    For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction

  • Septic Systems & Title 5 New Construction

    Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 26, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

    Whether you're building a new septic system or upgrading an existing one, there are Title 5 requirements that apply to new construction.

    System owner's responsibilities

    Whether or not you are the person actually doing the construction, it is always the system owner's responsibility to ensure things are done in accordance with Title 5 regulations (310 CMR 15.000). If you have questions related to building or expanding a new Title 5 system Title 5 system, you should contact your local Board of Health directly as they are the primary regulatory authority for new construction.

    For new construction of a septic system, the first step is to go to your local Board of Health as well as your local Building Department. You will need to obtain permits from both separately. You should initially provide each department with a verbal explanation of what you're proposing. Required approvals before starting construction h3

    In your initial conversation with the Board of Health and Building Department, it is important to ask them what Title 5 requirements and local requirements must be complied with in your particular case, and what specific approvals are needed from them. Both Departments will give you applications to be completed and returned. Once the Board of Health and Building Department have approved your applications, they will send you a letter in writing that either a) approves the request, b) approves the request but with specific conditions that must be met or c) denies the request.

    Also, the Board of Health will tell you whether MassDEP has to approve any of the applications. MassDEP reviews an application only after the Board of Health has made a final decision. You must ensure that all of the necessary approvals from the Board of Health, the Building Department, and MassDEP, if appropriate, are received before you or anyone else begins any work.

    Depending on the type of work you're proposing and approved for, you may need to hire a licensed system inspector to verify the location of system components, and perform the necessary work. There can be a variety of professionals involved: designer, soil evaluator, installer, inspector. However, even if you've hired a licensed inspector or system designer to do the work, you as the system owner are always responsible for your system. As work is being completed, you should be getting regular and detailed information and receipts from the professionals you've hired. For more information, refer to the Local Septic Management Homeowner Checklist.

    For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    Failed Title V Certification when Selling A Home: What to Do Now

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 11, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank Inspection

    When selling a home in Massachusetts that involves a septic system, one of the most important considerations is getting your Title V certification. The last thing you want is a problem with your septic system!

    What happens if your septic system fails and your title V does not pass?

    First, get in touch with a local engineer and the board of health. The engineer is going to determine if there is a "reserve area" on the original septic design where additional leach trenches could be added.

    It may be determined that the system needs to be placed in another area. In this case the engineer will draw up a septic design. The septic design is based on soil tests. These tests are called "perks and deep hole tests". The perk test determines how quickly the soil leaches and the deep hole test determines the water table level. Soils that have more gravel are better than those with clay and rock. A higher water table is not good when considering septic systems. With a high water table, you may need to have a "raised system."

    Once the septic system design is done and approved by the board of health, you'll want at least three bids from various septic installers.

    If you are in the middle of a Real Estate transaction and find out your septic system has failed and it will not be able to be repaired or replaced before the closing, the bank giving the buyer the loan will require you to escrow 1.5 times the estimate to fix or replace the system. However, keep in mind that every bank will not allow a septic escrow. The buyer may end up having to wait until the installation is complete.

    If you are unfortunate enough to have to replace your septic system, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    What Kind of Septic System Is Right?

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 04, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

    There are several types of septic systems you may consider for your new construction project, each of which could be beneficial in different ways.

    Conventional Septic Systems

    There are two general styles of conventional septic tanks that are used today, with the older graveled septic system being cheaper but not as preferred as the newer chamber septic system. Conventional septic systems feature a septic tank that is fed by a pipe which connects the building it is being used for. As water fills up inside the septic tank, it will eventually rise to the level of a drainage pipe, which leads out to the drainage field where the water drains into the ground. Septic tanks are intentionally made in large sizes to allow time for the wastewater to separate, creating a layer of sludge on the bottom and a layer of scum that floats on the surface. Both the chamber and graveled system drainfields create porous surfaces that allow the untreated water to sink into the soil, which naturally removes harmful bacteria and viruses.

    Low-Pressure Pipe Systems

    This solution is often used for situations where the natural terrain and orientation of the building demands that the drainfield be located uphill from the tank, meaning that gravity won’t cooperate when it comes to getting your wastewater to drain in the right place. This system is similar to the conventional septic system design, only there is a second tank added inside the main septic tank. This tank is programmed to pump out the wastewater twice each day, sending the wastewater through the drainfields where it can percolate into the soil.

    Evapotranspiration System

    In environments where the level of evaporation vastly exceeds the level of precipitation, such as in a semi-arid or arid climate, an evapotranspiration septic system will be a great solution. These types of climates tend to not have sufficient layers of permeable soil to treat the wastewater, so an alternative to the conventional system is needed. An Evapotranspiration septic system features an underground tank with a drainfield that has a trench with an impermeable barrier rather than a porous surface. This trench is topped by mounded sand and plants, which allows the water to evaporate into the air and transpirate into the plants. This process allows the wastewater to be treated through the sand without spilling over onto the dry terrain. An alternate version of this system changes the drainfield by making it permeable, allowing the water to percolate into the soil as well, making it a viable solution for moist climates as well.

    When you need septic service, installations, or repairs that you can trust, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    Choosing the Right Size Septic Tank

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 28, 2020

    This blog includes two different septic tank size tables to determine the required size or capacity you need for your septic tank.

    How big does your septic tank need to be?

    Typically the septic tank volume for a conventional tank and drainfield is estimated at a minimum of 1000 gallons or 1.5 x average total daily wastewater flow.

    Morse Engineering and Construction

    Also important to know is what the smallest recommended septic tank sizes can be based on building occupancy or wastewater volume.

    How big does our septic tank need to be based on the number of bedrooms in the home?

    Some jurisdictions use the number of bedrooms rather than number of occupants or estimated daily wastewater flow to guide homeowners and septic installers in choosing a septic tank size.

    Morse Engineering and Construction

    For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


    What Does a Septic System Inspection Include?

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 14, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

    Are you getting ready to buy or sell a home? Your home or the home you are about to buy may need a septic system inspection.

    What a septic inspection includes:

    • Locating the system.
    • Uncovering access holes.
    • Flushing the toilets.
    • Checking for signs of back up.
    • Measuring scum and sludge layers.
    • Identifying any leaks.
    • Inspecting mechanical components.
    • Pumping the tank if necessary.

    For more information on septic system inspections, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.