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Title 5 Septic Systems for New Construction

- Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Morse Engineering and Construction -  Title 5 Septic Systems for New Construction

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

If you are building a new septic system or upgrading an existing one, there are Title 5 requirements that must be followed in order to prevent damage to human health and the environment.

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. If you have questions related to building or expanding a new 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 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.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


5 FAQs: Repairs and New Construction

- Friday, May 19, 2023
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

Why can't I put my soil absorption system (SAS) under my driveway?

Title 5 precludes using area under a driveway for a soil absorption system unless restrictions on the land leave no other feasible option. Impervious areas such as driveways or parking lots restrict air passing through the soils. In addition, the weight of the cars can compact the soil and may break distribution pipes. Lack of oxygen prevents the degradation of the septic tank effluent in the soil, and compaction reduces flow, making the system likely to clog and fail. Soil absorption systems which are placed under driveways are required, by 310 CMR 15.240 (7), to be vented to the atmosphere. Additional standards apply to system components in areas where automobile or other heavy equipment is anticipated. How far away from property lines and existing buildings does my septic system need to be? h3

Title 5 (310 CMR 15.211) lists minimum setback distances, and the local Board of Health can provide more information about your particular situation.

I am thinking about adding living space to my home (family room, garage, etc), but I'm maintaining the same number of bedrooms. Am I required to have a Title 5 inspection to get a building permit? h3

A system must be inspected upon any change of use or expansion of use for which a building permit or occupancy permit is required. However, if the change of use or expansion does not increase the existing design flow, the requirement is for an assessment only, in order to determine the location of all system components, including the reserve area. This will ensure that the proposed construction is not placed on top of any system components. The requirement for an assessment can be waived if an official record exists that shows the location of system components as they relate to the proposed construction. (310 CMR 15.301(5).

Contact your local board of health to verify if local regulations require a full inspection.

Can a Board of Health require the replacement of an undersized septic tank?

Yes, if its continued use will jeopardize the soil absorption system or the environment. Any tank smaller than 1000 gallons may be judged to be too small, depending on individual circumstances.

Does a Board of Health have to issue a Disposal System Construction Permit (DSCP) for the replacement of a single component such as a Distribution Box or septic tank? h3

Yes. Title 5 allows system components to be replaced without replacing the entire system, but requires a DSCP and a Certificate of Compliance once the work is done (see Conditional Pass).

What are the advantages of pressure distribution for a septic system with a pump?

Although Title 5 does not require it, pressure distribution for systems with pumps generally results in a more efficient and longer-lasting system. Pressure distribution can be especially important when a reduction in distance to ground water is being requested for a mounded system.

Is it legal for the Board of Health to restrict the use of mounded systems for new construction?

Communities may have requirements more restrictive than DEP's provided correct procedures are followed in adopting them (310 CMR 15.003 (3)).

A property owner with a failing septic system is in the process of obtaining local approvals for an upgrade. In the meantime, the system is experiencing breakouts of sewage onto the ground. What should be done in the interim?

Breakout of sewage onto the ground is a significant threat to public health and the environment, and the Board of Health should take immediate action to address the situation. Interim steps could include requiring the system owner to seal off any discharges from the septic tank and begin a pumping program with a licensed septage hauler. Ultimately, responsibility for the failing system falls on the system owner, but Boards of Health have primary responsibility for enforcing Title 5 in order to ensure public health and safety.

Can MassDEP recommend a certified soil laboratory?

No. Massachusetts does not certify soils testing laboratories. You can inquire with your local Board of Health on any local labs that may provide that service or check the yellow pages under "testing laboratories".

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Consumer Protection Tips: Septic System Inspections

- Monday, May 15, 2023
Morse Engineering and Construction

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.

For a list of qualified system inspectors in your area, contact your local Board of Health. You can also see lists of approved system inspectors on the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control website.

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.

5 Ways to Save Money on Septic Repair

- Friday, May 05, 2023
Morse Engineering and Construction

Larger septic tank repair jobs can put a dent in your home maintenance budget. To reduce your costs over time, consider the following strategies:

Clean it: Retain the annual services of a local septic tank cleaning company. Regular cleaning gives your septic pro access to spot potential issues before they develop into big problems, while also eliminating one major cause of septic system failure—the buildup of sewage and scum that overwhelms your system.

Use treatment products: Ask your septic pro about products designed to help the bacteria in your system break down solid waste to stop clogs from occurring. Products such as Rid-X or Green Gobbler can give those bacteria an extra boost so your system operates more efficiently.

Pump it regularly: According to the EPA, you should have your septic tank pumped every three to five years.

Minimize water use: On average, a single-family home uses approximately 70 gallons per person per day. Leaks and inefficient appliances, such as leaky toilets, can waste hundreds of gallons of water. The more wastewater your septic system must process, the more frequently it’ll need inspection, servicing, and repair. Consider installing newer versions of heavy-use appliances, such as high-efficiency toilets and showerheads.

Point Drains Away: Keep your home’s drainage components (roof drains, gutters, etc.) flowing away from the drainfield so it doesn’t flood and slow down the treatment process or cause backups in your home’s plumbing fixtures.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.