Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

A Complete Septic System Installation Checklist

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 09, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction Fiskdale, MA

Did you know septic systems are still in use in almost a third of all homes in the United States? Many rural areas and some suburban areas do not have access to sewer, so new septic system construction and system repairs must be done to maintain a wastewater treatment system for the home and property.

Septic system installations can become tricky when there are a lot of variables, such as building a new home or replacing a system during a home sale. Below is our ultimate checklist with insider tips for a homeowner undergoing a septic system installation.

1. Learn state septic regulations

In most states, the government regulates septic system installations through local county and state laws. Many states will regulate septic systems and wastewater through their state environmental agency or a health department. In Massachusetts it is the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Search their website for septic system information. Many will have a whole section with information geared towards septic system owners that will give you maintenance information as well as repair and installation information.

2. Check out what septic system permits are required

Permits vary from state to state. A thorough search of the local agency’s website should tell you what permits are required in different situations and direct you to those applications. Some states also have laws that allow certain systems to be grandfathered in or exempt from needing a permit.

In some cases a property will need to be evaluated before getting an installation permit, so the local agency can determine the type of system that fits the property’s soil condition best.

And in a worst-case scenario, a few states and local rules are vague, leaving the homeowner unsure of what can be installed and how. In situations like this, we recommend choosing a local septic contractor with a good reputation — online and offline — to help you navigate the state laws.

Insider tip: Permitting and application review can take awhile, especially during summer months. We recommend planning four to six weeks ahead and asking the local agency that reviews permit applications about their current review time.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Septic Systems and Title 5: Homeowner Checklist for New Systems

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 03, 2020
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

Considerations for System Design

There are two components of septic system design : soil evaluation and actual design. Soil evaluation consists of noting where your property lines may be so that test holes can be dug. These holes will locate your soil absorption system, which handles the fluid part of septic wastes. This step also includes actually digging the test holes with a backhoe and performing a soil examination and percolation test.

Soil evaluation does not have to be performed by a professional engineer, but can be done by a Massachusetts-certified Soil Evaluator. The results of the soil examination are submitted to you and the Board of Health. You can then submit the results to a chosen registered professional engineering firm for design purposes.

Questions to ask Prior to Choosing a Soil Evaluator

  • Will you provide a written estimate for all phases of the proposed work? Will you charge us for determining where our property lines are located, or use general fieldwork as determined from meeting with us today?
  • If you cannot determine the location from our plans, or from property bounds, drill holes, stakes or other property line markings, how will you determine property lines for location of the system components and soil absorption system?
  • Will the soil examination and percolation test be performed by you or a subcontractor? Will you be present to show the subcontractor where to dig the holes for location of the soil absorption system? Do the subcontractor and the heavy machine operator work directly for you, and do they carry the necessary liability insurance?
  • Will they be responsible for calling Dig Safe, if required?
  • Will the dug holes and tractor (tire) damages be filled in, graded and seeded?
  • When the soil examination is completed, will you submit a copy to the Board of Health, our chosen design engineer and us?

Questions to ask Prior to Choosing a Septic System Designer

  • Will you provide the system design to include:
  • Site visits and written estimate for all phases of the proposed work
  • Survey work for the system design
  • Review of soil evaluation test and opinion to us of the type of systems that could be installed, along with price estimates for each one
  • Draft plans for review and approval of approved system
  • Final plans submitted to Board of Health.
  • Will you provide Engineering Oversight of Construction?
  • What is your hourly charge for inspection of the contractor's work?
  • What is your estimate of total time required for this inspection, and the likely maximum costs?

    For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction

  • Septic Systems & Title 5 New Construction

    Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 26, 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.

    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 (310 CMR 15.000). If you have questions related to building or expanding a new Title 5 system 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 h3

    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.

    For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    Failed Title V Certification when Selling A Home: What to Do Now

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 11, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic Tank Inspection

    When selling a home in Massachusetts that involves a septic system, one of the most important considerations is getting your Title V certification. The last thing you want is a problem with your septic system!

    What happens if your septic system fails and your title V does not pass?

    First, get in touch with a local engineer and the board of health. The engineer is going to determine if there is a "reserve area" on the original septic design where additional leach trenches could be added.

    It may be determined that the system needs to be placed in another area. In this case the engineer will draw up a septic design. The septic design is based on soil tests. These tests are called "perks and deep hole tests". The perk test determines how quickly the soil leaches and the deep hole test determines the water table level. Soils that have more gravel are better than those with clay and rock. A higher water table is not good when considering septic systems. With a high water table, you may need to have a "raised system."

    Once the septic system design is done and approved by the board of health, you'll want at least three bids from various septic installers.

    If you are in the middle of a Real Estate transaction and find out your septic system has failed and it will not be able to be repaired or replaced before the closing, the bank giving the buyer the loan will require you to escrow 1.5 times the estimate to fix or replace the system. However, keep in mind that every bank will not allow a septic escrow. The buyer may end up having to wait until the installation is complete.

    If you are unfortunate enough to have to replace your septic system, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    What Kind of Septic System Is Right?

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 04, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC - Septic System in Sturbridge, Fiskdale, MA

    There are several types of septic systems you may consider for your new construction project, each of which could be beneficial in different ways.

    Conventional Septic Systems

    There are two general styles of conventional septic tanks that are used today, with the older graveled septic system being cheaper but not as preferred as the newer chamber septic system. Conventional septic systems feature a septic tank that is fed by a pipe which connects the building it is being used for. As water fills up inside the septic tank, it will eventually rise to the level of a drainage pipe, which leads out to the drainage field where the water drains into the ground. Septic tanks are intentionally made in large sizes to allow time for the wastewater to separate, creating a layer of sludge on the bottom and a layer of scum that floats on the surface. Both the chamber and graveled system drainfields create porous surfaces that allow the untreated water to sink into the soil, which naturally removes harmful bacteria and viruses.

    Low-Pressure Pipe Systems

    This solution is often used for situations where the natural terrain and orientation of the building demands that the drainfield be located uphill from the tank, meaning that gravity won’t cooperate when it comes to getting your wastewater to drain in the right place. This system is similar to the conventional septic system design, only there is a second tank added inside the main septic tank. This tank is programmed to pump out the wastewater twice each day, sending the wastewater through the drainfields where it can percolate into the soil.

    Evapotranspiration System

    In environments where the level of evaporation vastly exceeds the level of precipitation, such as in a semi-arid or arid climate, an evapotranspiration septic system will be a great solution. These types of climates tend to not have sufficient layers of permeable soil to treat the wastewater, so an alternative to the conventional system is needed. An Evapotranspiration septic system features an underground tank with a drainfield that has a trench with an impermeable barrier rather than a porous surface. This trench is topped by mounded sand and plants, which allows the water to evaporate into the air and transpirate into the plants. This process allows the wastewater to be treated through the sand without spilling over onto the dry terrain. An alternate version of this system changes the drainfield by making it permeable, allowing the water to percolate into the soil as well, making it a viable solution for moist climates as well.

    When you need septic service, installations, or repairs that you can trust, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

    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.


    What Does a Septic System Inspection Include?

    Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 14, 2020
    Morse Engineering and Construction - Septic System Inspection

    Are you getting ready to buy or sell a home? Your home or the home you are about to buy may need a septic system inspection.

    What a septic inspection includes:

    • Locating the system.
    • Uncovering access holes.
    • Flushing the toilets.
    • Checking for signs of back up.
    • Measuring scum and sludge layers.
    • Identifying any leaks.
    • Inspecting mechanical components.
    • Pumping the tank if necessary.

    For more information on septic system inspections, 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.