Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

Why You Need to Inspect Your Septic System

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Failing septic systems and cesspools can contaminate drinking water, shellfish beds, and beaches. Title 5 of the State Environmental Code protects us by requiring inspection of private sewage disposal systems. Local boards of health receive these inspection reports. Most systems will pass inspection. Title 5 requires the replacement or upgrade of systems that fail.

If you own a home with a septic system or cesspool and plan to put it up for sale, add a bedroom, or change its use, you will need to get a system inspection. This information will help you make the right decisions about who to hire and how to finance repairs.

You'd Better Shop Around

When you need to hire a system inspector, there are two important things to remember:

  1. MassDEP does not regulate inspection fees, nor does any other state agency. Inspectors can charge whatever their customers are willing to pay. The fee also may vary depending on the complexity of the inspection.
  2. Only certain professionals may perform Title 5 system inspections:
    • Professionals who meet experience requirements and have passed a MassDEP-administered exam;
    • Registered Sanitarians;
    • Certified Health Officers; and
    • Registered Professional Engineers who specialize in civil, environmental or sanitary engineering.

Before hiring anyone, do some comparison shopping:

  • Get written estimates from several inspectors. Ask them whether the price of the inspection includes pumping the system; often it does not.
  • Ask for and check each inspector's identification and references.
  • Before signing a contract, be certain that it spells out the work plan, the cost and payment terms, and any guarantees the inspector is willing to provide.
  • Once the inspection is complete, make sure the person who signs the form is the same person who conducted the inspection.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Four Options for Septic Systems When Building a House

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 18, 2019
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction

To plan your ideal home and watch it come into being is a pretty amazing process. And there’s probably nothing like the topic of sewage to burst that happy bubble where you daydream about your new home.

Buzzkill or not, building a house in rural New England often means a private septic system might form a crucial part of your new home reality. You won’t just be making decisions about laminate vs. hardwood flooring or what color the exterior of your house should be. You’re going to have to deal with something that sounds nasty even to just say it aloud: effluence.

Let’s make sure we even know what a septic system is. The main objective of a septic system is to remove waste from the house, disperse effluence into the ground, and then let nature take over the job of “treating” the water. That is, filtering the liquid waste through soil, sand, and gravel and returning it into the aquifer from which it originated.

Very early on in the construction of your home, a general contractor will talk to you about what kind of septic system your property will need. The best system will depend on a combination of factors, such as how many people live in the house and the soil composition and soil depth of your land.

In most cases, though, your septic choice will be among a set of four standard options.

Gravity Fed: In this passive system, waste leaves the house through a pipe, which is connected to a fiberglass or concrete tank. Inside the tank, naturally occurring bacteria break down the solids contained in the incoming waste. Eventually, as more sewage comes into the tank, gravity forces the old sewage out. It is dispersed through a series of perforated pipes that are buried in gravel-filled trenches several feet under the ground.

Pressure Distribution: This system is similar to the gravity fed system, except that it includes a pump. Instead of waste gradually ending up in the drain field (or leach field), the pump periodically floods the drain field with effluence.

Sand Filter: This system also uses pumps, but instead of the waste being pumped directly into the soil, it is first dispersed through a series of pressurized lines placed atop a bed of gravel. From there, the effluence trickles down through what is, essentially, a box of sand. The sand treats the wastewater, which collects in a drain under gravel and is then moved into a second pump chamber before being pumped into a drain field.

Mound: In this system, pumps disperse effluence into a sand- and gravel-filled bed that is constructed above the natural surface of the ground.

It’s details like this that can make the difference between a house that’s easy to maintain and one that requires far more attention far more frequently. For more information on other important aspects of building a house, check out our blog on construction terms you need to know!

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Options if Your Site Fails a Perc Test

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 12, 2019
Percolation Testing

Even if your site fails a perc or deep-hole test, all is not lost. For sites with high water tables, you may be able to “de-water” the leaching area by strategically placing gravel-filled trenches and subsurface drain pipe to conduct water away from the drain field. You’ll need a highly experienced earthwork contractor, and possibly the help of a civil engineer or geotechnical engineer, to make this work.

Also, a wide range of alternative septic systems have been developed in recent years for use on almost any type of site. Find out which systems are approved for use in your area and which might be suitable for your site. In general, these systems cost more and many require pumps, alarms, and other components that require more monitoring and maintenance than a standard septic system. As these become more common and more widely accepted, formerly unbuildable lots may all of a sudden become approved building lots. As with all new building technology, however, look at products and systems with a proven track record in the field.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.