Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

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Loan options and Tax Credits for Septic System Repair or Replacement

- Friday, July 29, 2022
Morse Engineering and Construction - Failing Septic System

If you don’t have the cash handy to repair or replace the system there is a loan program in Massachusetts participating lenders offer low-interest rates to eligible homeowners through this Massachusetts Housing Program.

Some septic installers will also be paid out of the closing proceeds but, that is part of the negotiation of the real estate agent and usually there is a document that needs to be provided by the attorney as well to secure payment.

Massachusetts Septic Tax Credit

When installing a new system there is a State tax credit The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides. The amount changes over times and I want this blog to be timeless so, here is the link State of Massachusetts Tax Credit for Septic Systems.

With Title V and septic systems, the size of the system depends on the bedroom count.

For more information on replacing or repairing a septic system, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Do I need a Title V Inspection to Sell for a Home Sale in Massachusetts?

- Friday, July 22, 2022
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

There are exceptions. If the exceptions don’t apply then yes, you do need a passing Title V inspection.

You do not need an inspection when the house transfers title between:

  1. Between current spouses;
  2. Between parents and their children;
  3. Between full siblings; and
  4. Where the property is held in a trust.
  5. Refinancing a mortgage or similar financial instrument;
  6. Appointment of, or a change in, a guardian, conservator, or trustee;
  7. Any other change in ownership or the form of ownership where NO NEW parties are introduced (e.g., for estate planning or in a divorce);
  8. The property owner or buyer has signed an enforceable agreement with the Board of Health to upgrade the system or to connect the facility to a sanitary sewer or a shared system within 2 years following the transfer of title, provided that such agreement has been disclosed and is binding on subsequent owners;
  9. The property is subject to a comprehensive local plan of septic system inspection approved in writing by MassDEP and administered by a local or regional government; and the system has been inspected at the most recent time the plan requires.

Without exemptions, it is required for the sellers to provide a passing Title V report. .

Title V Test

The Title V tests are to be done during normal usage of the property so, toilets flushing, laundry and showers etc. however, some houses are vacant so the soil has had time to dry out so to speak and it’s hard to determine if under normal usage the system would show signs of failing. This is very important that a buyer understand this and the buyer has a contingency plan should the system fail under normal usage.

The day of the test the septic system inspection should include a discussion with the homeowner to determine the history of the system, size of the household, a review of the system permit, a tank inspection, a distribution box inspection, a drain field bed inspection, and a house inspection. Usually they charge you extra if they have to dig out the lid so be aware.

The inspector will evaluate the tank and associated water use. No leaks or cracks can be in the tank. The inspector will dig test pits 2-3 feet down to check for signs of standing water or biomat growth for the drain field test. The D-Box will also be inspected to insure all mechanical equipment is in good working order. Inside the home, he will flush the toilets, run water in the sinks, and run the washing machine through a full cycle to see if the household plumbing is all going to the system and working correctly.

Reporting requirements The report takes about a week and Inspector must use the MassDEP-approved inspection form and provide the report to the governing health department within 30 days of the inspection.

The buyer or other person acquiring title to the property served by the system must receive a copy of the inspection report. One thing you can do as a buyer is to go to town hall to see when the initial system was installed, so you can determine if it is likely there will be problems in the future.

For sellers, oftentimes sellers put the house on the market and have not completed the Title V test, which can be a risk as if the septic system fails it is a big expense and time delay. Some towns take the full 90 days for review and approval as many of the towns don’t hire full –time staff or share environmental engineers for a specific region. Then there is the installation and then the final approval which can add several weeks.

It’s a good idea to get a few prices too because there is the cost for the engineering drawings, the permit costs and the installation costs. For the installation costs there can really be a big range. I’ve seen everything from 11K to 30K for the same system. Not always do sellers have the luxury to do the tile v test and then take the process slow so sometimes you just have to go with the flow. If you are planning to move in a few years from now, know that once the test is completed it is valid for 2 years unless it is pumped annually and then it is valid for 3 years. After that time frame you have to re-do the test.

For more information on replacing or repairing a septic system, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Selling a Home that Failed Title 5 Inspection

- Friday, July 15, 2022
Septic System Construction - Fiskdale, MA

Q. I am selling a home that has a failed Title 5 inspection. What are my seller’s options? h3

It is a common misunderstanding that a property must have a passing Title 5 inspection for title to transfer. What the law requires is that a pre-sale inspection occurs within 2 years before a transfer takes place. A failed Title 5 is one of the most frequent stumbling blocks to a successful transaction.

If a property has a failed inspection, the system must be repaired or replaced within 2 years. The current owner or buyer of a property with a failed inspection may enter into an enforceable agreement with the Board of Health requiring them to upgrade the system or connect to the public sewer within 2 years following the transfer of title. If a property owner has entered into this type of agreement, they must disclose it to prospective buyers, and it must be binding on subsequent owners.

The most straightforward option available to sellers with a failed Title 5 inspection is to repair or replace the septic system prior to transfer. However, this may not be a viable option for all sellers because of the expense involved. In these situations, the seller and buyer may negotiate a resolution that satisfies both the requirements of the law as well as the financial well-being of all parties involved.

It is also important to remember that an inspection is not required before a transfer in the following situations:

Refinancing or any situation where no new parties are introduced;

  • A transfer between spouses;
  • A transfer between parents and child(ren);
  • A transfer between full siblings; and
  • Where the property is held in a trust.

For more information on replacing or repairing a septic system, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


FAQs on Septic Systems

- Thursday, July 07, 2022
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction Fiskdale, MA

How do I find a copy of my septic system's design?

Typically, a septic system is permitted and inspected by your local permitting authority, most often the local health or environmental department. You can contact them to obtain a copy of your property’s septic record drawing (the “as-built” design) and copies of the permit. The permit may also have additional information on your system, such as the date of installation, soil properties, etc.

Where should septic tanks be placed?

Your local health department may have septic tank placement requirements and a minimum setback distance from your foundation. Typically, it should be located on level ground so solids can settle in the tank. The location of the plumbing outlet usually dictates where the tank is located and depth of the tank to account for adequate slope on the inlet pipe. Septic tanks should be placed away from areas subject to flooding and surface water ponding. The tank should be properly vented. Avoid steep slopes and areas of dense tree roots or other obstructions. Also, place the septic tank where it is accessible for future inspections and pump outs.

How close can a septic tank be to a property line?

Isolation distances from septic tanks to property lines are typically part of local or state permitting regulations. Contact your local permitting authority which is most often the local health or environmental department for specific requirements in your area. Your local zoning regulations may also include setbacks to various features like buildings and property lines.

How do I get a permit for the repair, new construction, or replacement of a septic system?

A septic system permit is issued by your local permitting authority which is most often the local health or environmental department. You can apply for the permit yourself, or the contractor hired to build the system can obtain it on your behalf. Check with your local municipality in the event they also require additional permits to install your system.

Is one type of septic system better than another?

The type of septic system for your home depends on a variety of factors, such as lot size, ground slope, soil conditions, size of the home/occupancy, local/state regulations, and your budget. Some properties can be served by a conventional gravity septic tank and drainfield, while others may require advanced technologies for wastewater treatment or alternate drainfields – like low pressure pipe or drip distribution systems. For more information on the most common types of septic systems, visit EPA's Types of Septic Systems. Some advanced treatment systems have test results demonstrating their treatment performance.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


What Can Cause Septic Systems to Fail?

- Friday, July 01, 2022
Morse Engineering and Construction - Failing Septic System

If the amount of wastewater entering the system is more than the system can handle, the wastewater backs up into the house or yard and creates a health hazard.

You can suspect a system failure not only when a foul odor is emitted but also when partially treated wastewater flows up to the ground surface. By the time you can smell or see a problem, however, the damage might already be done.

By limiting your water use, you can reduce the amount of wastewater your system must treat. When you have your system inspected and pumped as needed, you reduce the chance of system failure.

A system installed in unsuitable soils can also fail. Other failure risks include tanks that are inaccessible for maintenance, drainfields that are paved or parked on, and tree roots or defective components that interfere with the treatment process.

Failure symptoms

The most obvious septic system failures are easy to spot. Check for pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement. Notice whether your toilet or sink backs up when you flush or do laundry. You might also notice strips of bright green grass over the drainfield. Septic systems also fail when partially treated wastewater comes into contact with groundwater. This type of failure is not easy to detect, but it can result in the pollution of wells, nearby streams, or other bodies of water. Check with a septic system professional and the local health department if you suspect such a failure.

Failure causes

Household toxics

Oil-based paints, solvents, and large volumes of toxic cleaners should not enter your septic system. Even latex paint cleanup waste should be minimized. Remember that your septic system contains a living collection of organisms that digest and treat waste.

Household cleaners

For the most part, your septic system’s bacteria should recover quickly after small amounts of household cleaning products have entered the system. Of course, some cleaning products are less toxic to your system than others. Labels can help key you into the potential toxicity of various products. The word “Danger” or “Poison” on a label indicates that the product is highly hazardous. “Warning” tells you the product is moderately hazardous. “Caution” means the product is slightly hazardous. (“Nontoxic” and “Septic Safe” are terms created by advertisers to sell products.) Regardless of the type of product, use it only in the amounts shown on the label instructions and minimize the amount discharged into your septic system.

Hot tubs

Your septic system was not designed to handle large quantities of water from your hot tub. Emptying hot tub water into your septic system stirs the solids in the tank and pushes them out into the drainfield, causing it to clog and fail. Draining your hot tub into a septic system or over the drainfield can overload the system. Use the same caution when draining your swimming pool.

Water Purification Systems

Some freshwater purification systems, including water softeners, unnecessarily pump water into the septic system. This can contribute hundreds of gallons of water to the septic tank, causing agitation of solids and excess flow to the drainfield. Check with your licensed plumbing professional about alternative routing for such freshwater treatment systems.

Garbage disposals

Eliminating the use of a garbage disposal can reduce the amount of grease and solids entering the septic tank and possibly clogging the drainfield. Using a garbage disposal frequently can significantly increase the accumulation of sludge and scum in your septic tank, resulting in the need for more frequent pumping.

Improper design or installation

Some soils provide excellent wastewater treatment; others don’t. For this reason, the design of the drainfield of a septic system is based on the results of soil analysis. Homeowners and system designers sometimes underestimate the significance of good soils or believe soils can handle any volume of wastewater applied to them. Many failures can be attributed to having an undersized drainfield or high seasonal groundwater table. Undersized septic tanks—another design failure—allow solids to clog the drainfield and result in system failure.

If a septic tank isn’t watertight, water can leak into and out of the system. Usually, water from the environment leaking into the system causes hydraulic overloading, taxing the system beyond its capabilities and causing inadequate treatment and sometimes sewage to flow up to the ground surface. Water leaking out of the septic tank is a significant health hazard because the leaking wastewater has not yet been treated.

Even when systems are properly designed, failures due to poor installation practices can occur. If the drainfield is not properly leveled, wastewater can overload the system. Heavy equipment can damage the drainfield during installation which can lead to soil compaction and reduce the wastewater infiltration rate. And if surface drainage isn’t diverted away from the field, it can flow into and saturate the drainfield.