Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

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.


Massachusetts Septic System Tax Credits

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Here is some information on the ailed cesspool or septic system credit (Title V) for repair or replacement.

If you:

  • Are not a dependent of another taxpayer
  • Own residential property in Massachusetts
  • Occupy the residential property as your principal residence

You're allowed a credit for expenses you paid to:

  • Repair or replace a failed cesspool or septic system to comply with state sewer system requirements
  • Connect to a municipal sewer system to follow a federal court order, administrative consent order, state court order, consent decree, or similar mandate

Nonresidents do not qualify for this credit since the property must be an owner-occupied principal residence in Massachusetts. However, former Massachusetts residents who have to file Massachusetts nonresident tax returns may claim their unused prior year credit carryovers.

Part-year residents qualify for the full credit if the property is an owner-occupied principal residence in Massachusetts.

Qualified expenses you paid to bring a failed system into full compliance include:

  • An upgraded system
  • An alternative system
  • A shared system
  • A connector to a sewer system

Generally, only expenses for services or costs in connecting or hooking-up a sewer line from your property to the public sewer line qualify when calculating the credit. If you obtained a loan to finance a sewer line hook-up or connection, you can include it in calculating the Title V credit if you are required to or are allowed to connect to a town or city sewer system to cure a failed system.

If you voluntarily repair or replace a cesspool or septic tank, you can not claim this credit since it is not considered a "failed" system under Title V. When calculating the credit, do not include betterments (improvements) related to constructing, extending, improving, or maintaining a new or existing sewer system and/or a water treatment system for a city or town either.

To qualify for the credit:

  • The credit is 40% (.40) of the costs (not to exceed $15,000). The total amount of the credit cannot exceed $6,000.
  • When calculating the credit, subtract any interest subsidies you received from Massachusetts.
  • You can claim the credit for the year the repair or replacement work is completed.

If the credit is greater than the tax you owe, you can carry forward the excess credit for up to the next 5 tax years.

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

What to Do If Your Septic System Fails Inspection

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 30, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank Inspection

Why septic systems fail

Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (those with a drain field) are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables. These conditions can cause hydraulic failures and contamination of nearby water sources.

Failure to perform routine maintenance, such as pumping the septic tank generally at least every three to five years, can cause solids in the tank to migrate into the drain field and clog the system.

Whom to contact if you have problems with your septic system

Contact a local septic system service provider, your local health department, or onsite wastewater treatment regulatory agency. contact Morse Engineering and Construction for a septic system inspection or for more information.

Massachusetts Title 5 Septic Requirements

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 23, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

One of the first things to consider when selling a Massachusetts home is to understand the Title 5 septic system law if the property does not have public sewer.

When your home is being serviced by a septic system, one of the most important considerations is getting your Title 5 certification done because the last thing you want is a problem with your septic system.

It is important to get the title 5 inspection taken care of before putting your home on the market. At the very least the inspection should be done within the first few weeks the home is posted for sale. Anyone who has ever had a failed title 5 can tell you how challenging it is to deal with.

The financial burden that a failed septic system creates can be pretty substantial. The cost to put in a new title 5 compliant septic system can range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more depending on the soil conditions, water table and whether ledge is encountered.

Aside from the unplanned financial headache, it also involves excavating your yard to install a new system.

So what happens if your Massachusetts title 5 septic system fails and you do not pass the Title V inspection?

In the event that your septic system fails, you need to get in touch with an engineer and the local board of health in the town where you are selling your home. The engineer will determine if there is a “reserve area” on the original septic system design that would allow for additional leach trenches to be added.

If the engineer determines that a reserve area is not possible, then a new septic system design will have to be drawn up. The septic design will be based on the soil testing that will be done. These tests are known as “perks and deep holes.” The perk test will determine how quickly the soil leaches and the deep hole test will ascertain the level of the water table. Soils that have gravel are more suitable for septic systems than those with clay and rock. A higher water table also is not beneficial for septic systems. With a high water table you may need to have what is called a “raised system” where additional soils need to be brought in.

Once the septic system design is completed and approved by the board of health the next step is to send it out for bid to a few septic system installers. You should get at least three bids because estimates can vary.

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


Septic Systems & Title 5 in New Construction

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 16, 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. Title 5 requirements must be followed in order to prevent damage to human health and the environment.

System owner's responsibilities

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 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

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.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction and your local Board of Health for more information.

Septic System Installation Services ARE Essential in MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 02, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

The world has been put on-hold, but your construction project does not need to be. You can still begin your home construction site work and septic system design and installation.

On the list of Essential Services in Massachusetts, construction is mentioned a number of times as supporting other essential services, but a new section titled “Construction-Related Activities” was added. This means we can work and Morse Engineering and Construction is open for business and taking all necessary precautions.

While much of the work done in Massachusetts has shifted to being performed remotely, if at all, construction sites are still full of activity. At Morse we ensure that work is done safely. Specializing in the design, construction, repair, and replacement of on-site septic systems in accordance with Massachusetts Title 5 regulations, we can inspect, install, design or repair. Contact us for more information.

Septic Inspections When Buying or Selling a Home

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, March 19, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank Inspection

Are you confused about why you might need a septic inspection before selling your home? Or are you buying a new home with a septic system? Get expert advice on septic systems and work with an experienced real estate agent in the process.

Before purchasing a house, prospective buyers usually hire an inspector to complete an inspection. The inspection often includes inspecting the structure of the house and checking for any pests. One of the most important aspects of the house is the septic inspection.

Septic inspections are crucial for your health and that of anyone else living in your home, so homeowners should make sure to schedule them regularly. However, because septic systems are buried in the ground, they're often the last thing on many homeowners' minds — until something goes wrong.

Here's everything that you'll want to know about your septic inspection when you are looking to buy or sell your house.

What is a septic system?

One in five homes in the US has a septic system but you'd be surprised how many people don't actually know what they are. A septic system is a system set up to remove the waste from your house.

In working condition, it takes the water and waste from the washer, sinks, showers, and toilets and filters that water. The system then redistributes it into the ground. The entire process helps to decrease water and soil pollution.

How often should you get a septic inspection?

According to most experts, you should get your septic tank inspected at least every three to five years. The inspection usually lands around the time that you should also have a professional septic tank pumping service pump the tank. Pumping the septic tank is necessary to keep your septic tank healthy and in satisfactory working order.

Despite what experts recommend, many homeowners wait much longer than five years to have their septic tank inspected. Many wait until something goes wrong to have the septic inspectors over. At that point, inspectors will often recommend you repair or replace your septic system, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Getting a regular inspection and pumping will not only save you money from needing a major repair, but it will also help deter any unwanted surprises if you decide to sell your house later.

How is a septic inspection done?

There are two types of septic inspections.

Visual Inspections

When buying or selling a house, the home inspector will usually complete a visual inspection.

A visual inspection involves asking a few questions, such as how old the house is, how often the owner pumps the septic system, and when the last inspection was. The inspector will then flush all the toilets and run all the water in the house to make sure the water pressure is up to par and everything is draining properly. Finally, the inspector will go out to the drain field to make sure there is no standing water, which can indicate a cesspool.

A visual inspection is helpful and quick, but a full inspection can really tell you the real story behind the health of the septic system.

Full Inspections

A full inspection includes everything a visual inspection includes, but it also goes the extra mile. This inspection is the one you'll want to get done every three to five years.

In a full inspection, inspectors will remove the cover to the septic tank and check the water level. The water level can or show whether the water is draining properly. The inspector will then run water in the house to make sure it is properly flowing from the house to the septic tank, and to make sure the water level within the tank does not rise when they introduce more water.

The inspector may use a dye test during this part of their inspection. In a dye test, the inspector will introduce dye into the water that is being drained to see how much of it enters the septic tank.

From there, the septic tank will get pumped and the inspector will check for any backflow from the absorption area. The backflow level tells the inspector if there is a problem with your drain field. The flow level is then checked again to make sure every aspect of the septic system is in working order and there are no blockages.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Key Aspects of Good Sitework

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 06, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Percolation Testing

The following is an overview of six highly important aspects of good sitework, what each different type is, why it is important, and the factors that affect it. These different areas of sitework are common to most types of construction projects, though depending on the circumstances of the project, some may require more intensive work than others.

Clearing and Grubbing

What Is Clearing and Grubbing and Why Is It Important? – Clearing and grubbing refers to the removal of unwanted vegetation such as trees, shrubs, bushes, and other plants, as well as general debris, from a construction site. Clearing and grubbing is a crucial aspect of sitework for the obvious reason that it physically clears the area of things that might be situated directly in the way of the new building or development, or which might block access to the worksite.

What Factors Matter for Successful Clearing and Grubbing? – Several factors influence the success of clearing and grubbing. One important factor is the tree, bush, or plant size. Naturally larger, thicker vegetation requires more extensive grubbing than smaller, sparse vegetation. Likewise the particular type of vegetation is an influencing factor. Some trees and shrubs are harder to remove than others or may simply require different removal techniques. The depth below the surface to which the site is cleared and grubbed is also important and may depend on the intended depth of foundation to be laid. The disposal method of the vegetation and debris removed from the site is also a significant consideration. For example trees and shrubs may be cut up and chipped as a means of disposal, burned, or buried. Environmental considerations, ecological factors, state and local regulations, and the demands of the construction project itself will all likely play a role.

Subgrade Stabilization

What Is Subgrade Stabilization and Why Is It Important? – Subgrade stabilization refers to the process of stabilizing soil levels below topsoil. This is done to prevent the ground from shifting or caving in while the construction work is being done. Subgrade stabilization is also important because it prevents the soil beneath the foundation from later shifting or caving after construction has been completed, which could in turn cause cracks or structural damage.

What Factors Influence Subgrade Stabilization? – Subgrade stabilization is typically performed by using a stabilizing or reclaiming agent which is blended with cement or lime and then added to the soil. As a result the soil type and moisture content present in the soil are very important because they influence the type and amount of additives used. Soil tests and samples are usually taken first to determine the best approach to subgrade stabilization.

Shoring and Erosion Control

What Is Shoring and Erosion Control and Why Is It Important? – Shoring and erosion control is a method of protecting the worksite against collapse as well as the effects erosion and weathering. This is an extremely important element of good sitework because it helps ensure the safety and integrity of the worksite, materials, and equipment.

What Factors Influence Shoring and Erosion Control? – Because shoring and erosion are so heavily dependent on environmental factors those are also the factors that influence how the shoring and erosion control will be undertaken. Rainfall, wind, and other weather conditions in the area are also important.


What Is Excavation and Why Is It Important? – Excavation refers to the process of removing soil and rock from the worksite. It is important because excavation may be required to dig out an area that will need to be occupied by something else as part of the construction and development project.

What Factors Influence Excavation? – Excavation requires large earthmoving equipment and work crews who are experienced and knowledgeable at the process. It is influenced in large part by the depth of excavation required as well as the soil and rock type present.

Drainage Systems and Water systems

What Are Drainage and Water Systems and Why Are They Important? –Drainage systems are used to clear stormwater from the area. Water distribution systems are used to bring safe, potable water into the site. These types of systems are crucial because just about all commercial, industrial, or residential sites will need a means of bring clean water in and pumping wastewater out.

What Factors Influence the Construction of Drainage and Water Systems? – Construction of the drainage and water systems is likely to be influenced by the water source and wastewater destination, required volume and capacity, and the needs of particular facilities.

Good sitework lays the groundwork for the rest of the construction project and it is essential to start things off on the right foot. For outstanding sitework and preparation services and an extensive range of capabilities contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Do's and Don’ts for Septic Systems

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 28, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction - Percolation Testing


  • Check with the local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper if you have a garbage disposal unit to make sure that your septic system can handle this additional waste.
  • Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to the system.
  • Use water efficiently to avoid overloading the septic system. Be sure to repair leaky faucets or toilets. Use high-efficiency fixtures.
  • Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.
  • Check with your local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper before allowing water softener backwash to enter your septic tank.
  • Keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other septic system maintenance activities.
  • Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record for service visits.
  • Have a septic system inspection and get it pumped as necessary by a licensed inspector/contractor.
  • Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.


  • Your septic system is not a trash can. Don’t put dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system.
  • Don’t use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.
  • Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.

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

Septic Design: Types of Septic Systems

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 20, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Septic system design and size can vary widely, from within your neighborhood to across the country, due to a combination of factors. These factors include household size, soil type, site slope, lot size, proximity to sensitive water bodies, weather conditions, or even local regulations. Below are ten of the most common types of septic systems used. The list is not all-inclusive; there are many other types of septic systems.

Septic Tank

A buried, watertight tank designated and constructed to receive and partially treat raw domestic sanitary wastewater. Heavy solids settle to the bottom of the tank while greases and lighter solids float to the top. The solids stay in the tank while the wastewater is discharged to the drainfield for further treatment and dispersal.

Conventional System

A decentralized wastewater treatment system consisting of a septic tank and a trench or bed subsurface wastewater infiltration system (drainfield). A conventional septic system is typically installed at a single-family home or small business.

The gravel/stone drainfield is a design that has existed for decades. The name refers to the construction of the drainfield. With this design, effluent is piped from the septic tank to a shallow underground trench of stone or gravel. A geofabric or similar material is then placed on top of the trench so sand, dirt, and other contaminants do not enter the clean stone.

Effluent filters through the stone and is then further treated by microbes once it reaches the soil below the gravel/stone trench.

Gravel/stone systems are relatively large in overall footprint and may not be suitable for all residential sites or conditions.

Chamber System

Gravelless drainfields have been widely used for over 30 years in many states and have become a conventional technology replacing gravel systems. They take many forms, including open-bottom chambers, fabric-wrapped pipe, and synthetic materials such as expanded polystyrene media. The gravelless systems can be manufactured with recycled materials and offer a significant savings in carbon footprint.

An example of a gravelless system is the chamber system. The chamber system serves as an alternative design to the gravel/stone system. The primary advantage of the chamber system is increased ease of delivery and construction. They are also well suited to areas with high groundwater tables, where the volume of influent to the septic system is variable (e.g., at a vacation home or seasonal inn), in an area where gravel is scarce, or in areas where other technologies such as plastic chambers are readily available.

This type of system consists of a series of connected chambers. The area around and above the chambers is filled with soil. Pipes carry wastewater from the septic tank to the chambers. In the chambers, the wastewater comes into contact with the soil. Microbes on or near the soil treat the effluent.

Drip Distribution System

The drip distribution system is a type of effluent dispersal that can be used in many types of drainfields. The main advantage of the drip distribution system is that no large mound of soil is needed as the drip laterals are inserted into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil. The disadvantage of the drip distribution system is that it requires a large dose tank after the septic tank to accommodate the timed dose delivery of wastewater to the drip absorption area. Additional components, such as electrical power, are necessary for this system, requiring an added expense and increased maintenance.

Aerobic Treatment Unit

Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) use many of the same processes as a municipal sewage plant, but on a smaller scale. An aerobic system injects oxygen into the treatment tank. The additional oxygen increases natural bacterial activity within the system that then provides additional treatment for nutrients in the effluent. Some aerobic systems may also have a pretreatment tank and a final treatment tank including disinfection to further reduce pathogen levels.

The benefits of this system are that it can be used in homes with smaller lots, inadequate soil conditions, in areas where the water table is too high, or for homes close to a surface water body sensitive to contamination by nutrients contained in wastewater effluent. Regular life-time maintenance should be expected for ATUs.

Mound Systems

Mound systems are an option in areas of shallow soil depth, high groundwater, or shallow bedrock. The constructed sand mound contains a drainfield trench. Effluent from the septic tank flows to a pump chamber where it is pumped to the mound in prescribed doses. Treatment of the effluent occurs as it discharges to the trench and filters through the sand, and then disperses into the native soil.

While mound systems can be a good solution for certain soil conditions, they require a substantial amount of space and periodic maintenance.

Recirculating Sand Filter System

Sand filter systems can be constructed above or below ground. Effluent flows from the septic tank to a pump chamber. It is then pumped to the sand filter. The sand filter is often PVC-lined or a concrete box filled with a sand material. Effluent is pumped under low pressure through the pipes at the top of the filter. The effluent leaves the pipes and is treated as it filters through the sand. The treated wastewater is then discharged to the drainfield.

Sand filters provide a high level of treatment for nutrients and are good for sites with high water tables or that are close to water bodies, but they are more expensive than a conventional septic system.

Evapotranspiration System

Evapotranspiration systems have unique drainfields. The base of the evapotranspiration system drainfield is lined with a watertight material. After the effluent enters the drainfield, it evaporates into the air. Unlike other septic system designs, the effluent never filters to the soil and never reaches groundwater.

Evapotranspiration systems are only useful in specific environmental conditions. The climate must be arid and have adequate heat and sunlight. These systems work well in shallow soil; however, they are at risk of failure if it rains or snows too much.

Constructed Wetland System

A constructed wetland mimics the treatment processes that occur in natural wetlands. Wastewater flows from the septic tank and enters the wetland cell. The wastewater then passes through the media and is treated by microbes, plants, and other media that remove pathogens and nutrients. The wetland cell typically consists of an impermeable liner, and gravel and sand fill, along with the appropriate wetland plants, which must be able to survive in a perpetually saturated environment.

A wetland system can work via either gravity flow or pressure distribution. As wastewater flows through the wetland, it may exit the wetland and flow into a drainfield for further wastewater treatment into the soil.

Cluster / Community System

A decentralized wastewater treatment system under some form of common ownership that collects wastewater from two or more dwellings or buildings and conveys it to a treatment and dispersal system located on a suitable site near the dwellings or buildings. It is common to find cluster systems in places like rural subdivisions.

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