Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

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Septic FAQs

- Thursday, March 21, 2024
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank

How often should I pump my septic tank?

The frequency with which you should have your septic tank pumped depends on factors like the tank’s size and the level of your household’s usage. Typically, pumping is recommended every three to five years to prevent overflows and maintain your septic system’s efficiency. However, consulting a professional for personalized advice based on your specific situation is a wise approach.

What are the signs of septic tank problems?

Signs of septic tank problems can include foul odors around the tank area, slow-draining sinks or toilets, sewage backups in your home, unusually green or lush grass near the tank, or even gurgling sounds in your plumbing. If you notice any of these signs, it's critical to address them immediately to prevent further septic system issues and costly repairs.

How can I prevent septic tank problems?

Preventing septic tank problems starts with responsible usage. Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items like wipes or chemicals. Limit excessive water use, fix leaks promptly, and schedule regular tank inspections. Be cautious about what you plant or build over the tank, as roots and heavy structures can damage it. These measures help maintain a healthy septic system and prevent costly issues down the road.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.


10 Types of Septic Systems for Your Home

- Monday, March 18, 2024
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System

Septic designs vary from home to home depending on the size of the lot, soil type, slope of the ground, proximity to nearby bodies of water, climate, and more. This list describes nine types of septic tanks and designs, each with different advantages and uses. Learn more about each before hiring a septic tank company to find the best system for your needs.

1. Septic Tank

If you already have a septic system on your property, you might only have to deal with replacing a septic tank rather than installing a new system. Luckily, this is a job that happens only once every couple of decades, assuming the original septic tank was of high-quality construction and was pumped as needed every three to five years.

While you might be able to make do with other home appliances or systems that are on their proverbial last legs, you can’t go for very long with septic tank that needs replacing. And while no one likes to get hit with an unexpected bill for a replacement appliance, a new septic tank is arguably at the better end of the bargain when one considers what could go wrong in the event of an entire septic system failure.

The cost of a new septic tank will vary depending on the size of the tank, which is determined by your household’s waste needs. A 500-gallon tank, for example, costs between $500 and $900 and is ample for the needs of a one-bedroom home. However, it will cost $900 to $1,500 for a three- to four-bedroom home, and upwards of $1,500 for a six-bedroom home or larger.

2. Conventional Anaerobic Septic System

A conventional home septic system starts with an underground watertight septic tank. Waste flows from the home into the tank, where heavy solids settle on the bottom and oils float to the top. Liquid waste, or effluent, is then pushed into a system of distribution pipes that branch out and slowly release wastewater into an area of land called a drain field.

Drain fields are deep, underground trenches lined with gravel and strong geofabric. Along with natural microbes, these layers filter out contaminants to protect the environment. Because conventional systems are the most common type of septic system for single-family homes, they are relatively easy to repair when needed.

3. Chamber System

Chamber septic systems are a common alternative to conventional gravel systems in places with a high groundwater table. Instead of using gravel drain fields, these systems consist of a series of connected open-bottomed leaching chambers surrounded by soil. Microbes in the soil around the chambers treat a home’s wastewater before it’s released and travels toward the groundwater.

These systems can be built more easily than conventional systems and sometimes consist of recycled materials, but the added chambers may require extra maintenance.

4. Drip Distribution System

Drip distribution septic systems use a buried network of small tubing to disperse effluent over a large drain field. After the septic tank is a large dose tank that collects wastewater and releases it slowly as the tubes in the drain field empty. This timed release helps avoid overflowing the drain field.

The large dosing tank may require additional maintenance and electrical power to run, making drip distribution more expensive than conventional systems. The small pipes also require filters to prevent large debris from clogging the system. However, the piping is buried in shallow soil and can be convenient to access if needed.

5. Aerobic Treatment Unit

Aerobic treatment units (ATUs) are like small-scale municipal sewage plants. They inject oxygen into the septic tank to increase natural bacterial activity, adding nutrients to the wastewater for treatment. Some aerobic systems also have pretreatment and final treatment tanks to disinfect the water before dispersing it into the environment.

ATUs work in homes with smaller lots, inadequate soil conditions, high water tables, or nearby bodies of water that are sensitive to contamination.

6. Mound System

Mound septic systems get their name from a large, raised mound built to contain the drain field. Effluent from the septic tank transfers to a pump chamber that pumps it into a mound of gravel and sand at timed intervals. The effluent filters through the sand and eventually disperses into the soil.

Mound systems are popular in rural areas with plenty of land to build on, but the soil is too shallow for normal dispersal.

7. Recirculating Sand Filter System

Sand filter systems work above or below ground. Effluent flows from the septic tank to a pump chamber, which pumps it onto the top of a sand filter. The filter is a sand-filled box lined with PVC or concrete. Effluent is filtered as it flows down through the sand and then discharged to a drain field.

Like a mound system, they are good for sites with shallow soil, high water tables, or a nearby body of water. They also require frequent maintenance and are relatively expensive to build at $7,000 to $18,000. However, they can function with much more limited space.

8. Evapotranspiration System

The drain field for an evapotranspiration system is unique among the different types of septic systems. It features an open-air tank lined with a waterproof material that prevents effluent from ever filtering into the soil or reaching groundwater. Instead, wastewater slowly evaporates into the air.

These systems are only useful under very specific conditions. They require a warm, dry climate and plenty of sunlight. Too much rain, snow, or humidity could cause the system to fail. However, installation and maintenance are easy compared to other types of septic tanks. Evapotranspiration septic systems cost $10,000 to $15,000.

9. Constructed Wetland System

Another unique septic system, a constructed wetland recreates the water treatment processes in natural wetlands. Wastewater flows from the septic tank into a wetland cell made of a watertight liner, gravel, sand, and aquatic plants that thrive in a perpetually saturated environment.

The plants and microbes in the wetland cell break down the wastewater, removing pathogens and nutrients before it flows into a drain field.

10. Cluster or Community System

Cluster systems can be built in small neighborhood communities to collect wastewater from two or more homes or businesses.

Each building has its own septic tank for initial treatment before wastewater flows into a nearby common drain field, drip distribution system, or constructed wetland system shared between the community. These systems are most common in rural subdivisions.

If a septic system is the best option for your home, be sure to follow a septic system installation checklist, starting with hiring a septic tank pro.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.


How to Find Your Septic Tank

- Thursday, March 14, 2024
Morse Engineering & Construction Industries, LLC - Finding Septic Tank

The septic tank is an integral part of many properties, quietly doing their job underground, and in the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often forget about what's beneath our feet. However, locating your septic tank is crucial for several reasons. Whether you're planning maintenance, embarking on a construction project, or simply want to stay informed about your property, knowing how to find your septic tank is essential.

Why Find Your Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are buried underground in order to be discreet. These tanks are eyesores, and they house your home’s wastewater—not exactly something you want your guests to see and smell. So, why is it so crucial to know where this tank is located on your property? Here are a few reasons.

Maintenance Access

Regular septic tank maintenance is key to ensuring its longevity and optimal functionality. In fact, these tanks need to be pumped every three to five years, and neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs to your septic system down the road. Finding your tank allows for easy access, making routine inspections and pumping a breeze.

Easier to Spot Issues

By knowing your septic tank's location, you can keep an eye out for signs of trouble. Cues like odorous areas, lush patches of grass, or depressions in the soil can indicate a full septic tank, which need immediate attention.

You're Building a New Structure

Before building on your property—whether it’s a simple garden shed, a large gazebo, or some other structure—you need to know where your septic tank is so that you don’t build on top of it. Construction over the tank can damage it, disrupt sewage flow, and lead to expensive repairs. It will also be harder to access the tank for maintenance. Proper planning ensures a trouble-free and efficient building process.

You're Starting a Digging Project

Whether you're planting trees, installing a new fence, or digging a garden pond, knowing your septic tank's location is crucial to avoid accidental damage. Accidentally hitting the tank during excavation can result in hazardous sewage spills, environmental contamination, and costly (and smelly) repairs. Knowing its location ensures a safe and smooth digging process.

How to Find a Septic Tank

Now that you understand the importance of locating your septic tank and some places you may be able to rule out, let's explore practical methods for locating your tank.

1. Review Your Property's Documents

Start by checking any official paperwork and inspection documents you have on hand for your property. There may be a property map or blueprints that indicate the tank's location, which is typically anywhere from five to 25 feet away from the house structure. This information can be a valuable starting point that will help you find the exact spot your septic tank is buried.

2. Check for Visual Evidence Around the Property

Walk around your property and look for visual cues. Is there an area with lush, green grass, even during dry spells? It could be that sewage leaked out at some point and is fertilizing the landscaping above your septic tank. Are there depressions or mounds in the ground that seem out of place? These often occur as a result of mis-sizing during the digging process, and these signs can indicate the presence of a septic tank.

3. Follow Your Home's Main Sewer Line

If you’re still unsure of your tank’s location after examining your documents and your property for clues, you can figure out the general area by following your main sewer line. This pipe directly connects to your septic tank, almost certainly in a straight line.

Inside your home, head to the basement, crawl spaces, or cellar to take a look around for the main sewer line.

Look for a pipe that has a diameter of about four inches and is made from a sturdy material like heavy PVC or cast iron.

Once located, visually follow the main sewer line from where it exits your house.

Head outside to the corresponding outdoor location where the pipe exited.

Follow the logical straight path of the sewer line, moving away from your home in a straight line.

Look for visual evidence of the septic tank along the way, such as uneven ground or inconsistent grass and plant growth.

Once you find the possible location of the septic tank after following the main sewer line, you can use a couple of different tools to confirm its location.

4. Use a Soil Probe or Metal Detector

Septic tank covers contain some metal, so if you happen to have a metal detector on hand, this could save you some time and effort. If you don’t have one, however, a metal soil probe can be a handy tool for locating your underground septic tank. By gently inserting the probe into the ground in areas where you suspect the tank might be, you can feel around for resistance or a hollow area, which could be the tank.

5. Check With Your Local Records Office

Since faulty septic tanks have the potential for negative environmental impact—like contaminating local water supplies—many municipalities require installers to get permits prior to placing septic tanks. This requirement is good news for you since your county probably maintains records of your septic tank's underground location for safety and protection. Contact your local records office to find out if that’s the case.

Mark Your Septic Tank's Location

Once you've successfully located your septic tank, it's crucial to mark its position for future reference. Use durable materials like stakes, flags, or even a small permanent structure—like a potted plant or a bird bath—on the ground to clearly indicate its location.