Rhode Island Septic Systems

Tips for Septic System Maintenance in Rhode Island

Rhode IslandSeptic systems are very common throughout Rhode Island. If you are a homeowner and have one of these on-site sewage systems, you are probably very aware of the maintenance and diligence that is required to properly maintain a septic system. If you are new to septic systems, it can be a bit overwhelming to get a handle on all the dos and don’ts.

This article will attempt to give you an overall understanding on how septic systems work in Rhode Island, what you can do to help keep your system running efficiently and when it’s time to call a professional to help you service your system. Whether you have a septic system in Cumberland, Woonsocket, Providence or somewhere in between, these tips will help you to increase the longevity and efficiency for many years to come.

How Septic Systems Work

Most of the septic systems found throughout Rhode Island consist of a specific set of equipment, which includes a septic tank, a leaching field and a distribution box. The wastewater that comes from your home is held temporarily within the septic tank, which is where the waste solids become separated from the water. Bacteria decomposes the solids, which are later pumped out by a professional septic system company.

The partially treated water leaves the tank and then moves on into the distribution box. Once inside the box, the water is distributed evenly into the leaching field. The water drains into trenches that are filled with gravel through holds in the distribution box, which are then used to help further treat the wastewater. The wastewater then seeps slowly into the soil of your leach field for a secondary purifying treatment.

Today there are some alternative systems that use different substrates than soil or gravel. One option is to use sand instead of soil. Another is to use peat. Whichever type of system you are currently using, you need to ensure that you properly maintain a septic system so that it does not pollute the groundwater. Don’t just change from soil to sand, peat or any other type of substrate unless you consult with a septic system professional to make sure that the change will work well with your current system.

How to Properly Maintain a Septic System

The best thing you can do for your septic system is to provide proper care and maintenance. There is a lot of responsibility on the part of the homeowner to ensure that the system is not being abused so that it will run properly. Regular visits from your septic system professional to inspect your equipment, check your levels and pump your system if necessary, will help keep things in proper working order.

Water conservation is the number one way to protect your system. Take some simple steps to ensure that you are limiting your use of water. The more you save, the less will end up in your system. Water-saving devices, such as low-flow toilets and shower heads are extremely helpful. Check for leaks in faucets and toilets on a regular basis and refrain from running a load of dishes and clothing unless you have a full load.

Chemicals can be extremely dangerous to a septic system. Don’t ever put any chemicals or paint thinners down your drains. These chemicals will kill off the microbes that naturally occur within your system and prevent it from functioning properly. Other things, such as food waste, fat and grease are also damaging to your system and should not be put down the drain. Unless your system has been designed to accommodate a garbage disposal, you should not use one with a septic system.

Maintain your leach field as well by ensuring that nothing is planted or growing over the area except for grass. It goes without saying that you should never pour concrete or asphalt over a leach field. Parking or driving vehicles over the leach field can ultimately compact the soil and crush the piping, rendering it useless to the treatment process.

When to Call a Professional

If you notice any problems within your septic system, such as drains that drain slower than usual, gurgling sounds or a foul odor around the house, you need to call a septic system service professional. Another sign is a very lush and green patch of grass within the drainage field, signaling that the grass is receiving more liquid and nutrients than usual. The technician will inspect your equipment, test the drain field and check to ensure that it is all draining properly and will check inside your home to make sure your plumbing is functioning well.

In the State of Rhode Island, some locations  require what are known as Rhode Island Town Inspections. These locations include South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Jamestown and Charlestown. The local town ordinances require both residential and commercial property owners to submit inspections of their septic systems on a regular basis.

All Clear Septic and Wastewater Services provides all of these services and more. They are fully licensed to provide Rhode Island Town Inspections and Massachusetts Title 5 Inspections.  All Clear utilizes state-of-the-art tools and fully trained and certified professionals to provide the best possible services to their customers at a very affordable and competitive rate. So whether you are in Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts, call  All Clear Septic for pricing, information or to set up an appointment at 508-763-4431 or visit www.allclearseptic.com

first maintenance inspections

A New Englander’s Guide to Septic Care

Septic System CareWhen it comes to maintaining a septic system in New England, you really need to stay on top of it on a daily basis. Whether you realize it or not, everything you do can potentially impact your septic system. Rather than providing a whole list of things you should do and things you shouldn’t do, this article will focus on the reasons why you need to stay on top of your septic system in order to keep it functioning efficiently for many years to come.

Kitchen Care

The kitchen can be one of the most dangerous places for the septic system. Homeowners all throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as the rest of New England, put all sorts of things down the kitchen sink that have no business going down there. The first rule of thumb is that you should never put solids down the drain and allow them to get into the septic system. The more solids in your system, the harder your system needs to work to break them down and more frequently you’ll need to have your tank pumped.

Kitchen cleaners and other commonly used chemicals can also wreck havoc on your septic system. For proper wastewater cleaning in Westport, Wareham and Plymouth, it is best to avoid use of common household chemicals in the kitchen if they will end up in your septic system. Spraying counters and wiping them with paper towels that will be disposed of is one thing, but spraying your sink with bleach or diluting floor cleaner in your sink for mopping is a recipe for disaster. Household chemicals can actually kill off the beneficial microbes that naturally occur in a septic system that work to break down solids and should never be used.

Bathroom Care

If you have a septic system you are probably already aware of the special toilet paper products that must be used in order to properly maintain your system. In addition, reducing the amount of water used in the bathroom is a great way to help improve the efficiency of your septic system. Septic maintenance in Cape Cod or anywhere else in New England should include restricting the amount of water used each day. Limiting the amount time that family members spend in the shower is one of the best ways to save water. Too much water in your septic system doesn’t give the system enough time to effectively clean and purify the wastewater.

Children can often cause problems to a septic system in the area of the bathroom. Small children love to flush everything they can fit into the toilet when they begin potty training and older children have a tendency to flush anything they don’t want their parents to find. Notes from friends, things they might be embarrassed about or might get them into trouble – it all goes down the toilet. Have a conversation with your children and share with them the importance of not putting solids down the drains. Training for proper septic system care should start early and frequent reminders are also beneficial.

Tools You Can Use

It can be difficult to stay on top of water usage and monitoring what items are going down the drain, particularly in a busy home with lots of children. Here are some simple things you can do or add that will make the job of maintaining a septic system in New England a lot easier:

  • Composting – Setting up a compost system for kitchen waste instead of using a garbage disposal or risking kids putting solid food waste down the sink can decrease sludge build up by as much as 40%. Set up a compost pail next to the kitchen sink to collect fruit rinds, coffee grounds, egg shells and other compost items and create a compost pile in your backyard – away from the drain field.
  • Grease Can – Keep a grease can for cooking grease used in frying or from bacon or other foods. You can use an old coffee can with a lid and then throw out the grease with your regular garbage. Keeping grease out of your septic system will benefit its effectiveness for years to come.
  • Water-Saving Toilets – These specialized units are available through most home improvement stores and are designed to use 1/3 less water than conventional toilets. This is a great way to reduce water usage without having to think about it every time you flush.
  • Reduced-flow Taps and Shower Heads – Very easy to install and use, these low-cost tools will help to reduce the amount of water used in the shower and in your sinks. These are particularly helpful in households with teenagers who won’t adhere to time-limit rules for showers.

Septic Maintenance in Cape Cod and Beyond

The typical septic system in New England is designed to handle a “normal” amount of wastewater, but how much is considered normal? The best way to put it in perspective is to look at what’s not normal. Dish washing, showers for six people, three loads of laundry and 100 people over for a party all in one day is not considered normal – in fact, it could be a recipe for disaster.

For more tips and professional advice on septic maintenance in Cape Cod or to hire professional wastewater cleaning in Westport, contact All-Clear Septic and Wastewater. Located in Acushnet, All-Clear services customers all throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island and is certified to perform Title V Inspections and Rhode Island Town Inspections. Call All-Clear at 508-763-4431 to set up an affordable maintenance program for your septic system.

Septic Pumping

Southcoast Massachusetts Area Home Owners: Are You Pumping Your Septic System Too Frequently?

Septic Pumping TruckMost homeowners don’t think about their septic systems each and every day. Plumbing and sewage are those types of things that tend to be out of sight and out of mind for most people. The only time we really think about them is when there’s a problem: a drain that won’t go down, a toilet that won’t flush, a septic system that suddenly smells like… well, you get the picture.

When a septic system emergency occurs, most homeowners think that they need to simply get the tank pumped so they call out the local septic system pumping company. In reality, septic system maintenance should be something that happens on a regular basis, not just as a band-aid or a quick fix when something goes wrong. Another thing that many homeowners don’t realize is that there are some services that will be more than happy to charge a couple hundred dollars or so to pump your system – even if you don’t need it.

How Often Should Your Septic System Get Pumped?

Your system should be checked by a licensed septic and wastewater technician who can help you to overcome any small issues and concerns before they become big, costly problems. Local services, such as All-Clear Septic and Wastewater in the Southcoast Massachusetts area, offer year-round maintenance programs designed to save you money and help you protect your investment.

Depending on the size of your tank, the “health” of your system and the number of people living in your home, required septic tank pumping should be approximately every two to three years. This may surprise homeowners who are paying for pumping services on a more frequent basis or, for that matter, for homeowners who just ignore their system completely until they have a septic system emergency on their hands.

According to data from the EPA, your tank should be pumped when the bottom of the floating layer of scum gets to within six inches of the outlet or if the sunken sludge layer is within twelve inches of the outlet. Getting regular check-ups by an experienced, professional septic system repair company – not just a pumping service – can help you know when you need to get your tank pumped or if your system needs a different type of service. At bare minimum, annual inspections by a qualified septic system service provider will help you keep tabs on your system.

Making a Small Problem Worse

Some homeowners may tell you that you can use commercial products to increase the amount of time between required septic tank pumping. The products they are talking about contain chemicals that are designed to aid in the break down of the sludge within the tank. Your septic system already has tons of naturally-occurring microbes working within your drain field and in your tank to help break down solid wastes and purify wastewater.

Unfortunately, some of these products can throw off the delicate ecosystem that has developed within your tank and disrupt the ability of the enzymes to break waste down. The EPA even strongly recommends that homeowners do not substitute these chemical products for regular maintenance through a preventative maintenance program, inspections and pumping, when required.

Why is Pumping Necessary?

You might be thinking that if all those enzymes are doing such a great job, why should an efficiently-running septic system ever need to be pumped in the first place? While the natural process of the system is the best way to break down sewage waste from your home, eventually the tank will need to be pumped to remove excess solids. Again, depending on your usage and size of the system itself, this needs to happen approximately once every two to three years, as needed.

If your tank needs to be pumped and isn’t, the entire septic system can overflow. Septic overflow of wastewater can often lead back to the source, pumping sewage back up through toilets and drains throughout the home. A failed septic system can also lead to a flooding of your drain field, which doesn’t just mean a stinky. flooded yard, but could also mean wastewater seeping into nearby creeks and rivers, tainting the local groundwater.

Once this happens, the waste from your failed septic system can contaminate the local drinking water that is used by your family and your neighbors. Once this waste enters the local water supply, harmful bacteria and other diseases are likely to spread, such as E.Coli or even hepatitis. This is why it is so important to contract a professional service company for a preventative maintenance program and inspections, and why you will ultimately need to plan on having your septic system pumped every two to three years.

Sign Up for Septic System Preventative Maintenance Program Today

For homeowners living in the Southcoast region such as Barnstable, Brockton, Monponsett, Attleboro, Nonquitt, Rochester and even customers located in Rhode Island, All-Clear Septic and Wastewater is your best bet for professional septic system maintenance services and inspections. Certified to conduct Title V Inspections in Massachusetts and Rhode Island Town Inspections in the State of Rhode Island, All-Clear can help you stay on top of your septic system and ensure that it continues to work effectively and efficiently for years to come. Call All-Clear at 508-763-4431 for more information about our Preventative Maintenance Program, septic repair, rejuvenation, inspections, assessments and other available services.

septic system

Septic Systems: What You Need to Know Before You Buy or Sell Your Home in Massachusetts

Septic System in MassachusettsIf you are buying or selling a home that has a septic system in the State of Massachusetts, there are a few things you need to know. A brand new septic system can cost you as much as $30,000 or more to replace, however with proper septic system maintenance, it can continue to work effectively and efficiently for approximately 25 years.

The standard home inspection that is required when you buy or sell your home in Massachusetts does not include an inspection of the septic system. There is a separate inspection required in the State of Massachusetts that homeowners need to be aware of, which is called the Title 5 Inspection.

What is a Title 5 Inspection?

A Title 5 Inspection is a complete and thorough inspection of your septic system. This inspection must be performed by a person who has been certified by the State of Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

A Title 5 Inspection is a part of the Environmental Code for the State of Massachusetts, which regulates all septic systems and works to provide these inspections for the health and safety of the public, as well as the protection of the environment.

The inspection checks to ensure that the septic system has been properly constructed and checks to ensure that any upgrades were done according to code and state regulations. The inspector also checks to ensure that proper septic maintenance has been performed throughout the lifetime of the system.

For the Buyer

In the State of Massachusetts, it is the responsibility of the buyer to ask the seller about the septic systems. You should ask when the system was last pumped and how many people are currently living in the home. A typical system should be pumped about every 2-3 years, more often if there are more than 5 residents in the home. Increased demand, particularly in a situation where more people are living in the home than it was designed to hold, can lead to many damaging problems.

The number of bedrooms in a home dictates the design and capacity of the septic system that gets installed. However, in some cases, a home may have more bedrooms than the original design due to remodeling or by poor quality design by the installer. A home that has more bedrooms than the system was designed for will very likely experience system failure much earlier than the typical longevity for a residential system.

Once you get the information from the seller, make sure to consult with a septic system inspection and maintenance service that is certified in the State of Massachusetts, such as All-Clear Septic out of Acushnet, Massachusetts. All-Clear is certified to inspect septic systems all over Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and can give you the information you need about the health and condition of the septic system in a home you are thinking about buying.

For the Seller

If you are thinking about selling your home you should make sure that you get proper septic system maintenance and consider calling out a local service to do a review of your system. All-Clear Septic offers a service known as a Confidential Voluntary Assessment, which will go through your entire system, just like a Title 5 Inspection. This assessment is completely confidential, giving you the opportunity to repair or maintain your system without having to go through the state like you would with an official Title 5.

Proper septic system maintenance should be taken care of year round from the day you purchase your home, and should not be thought of as a last minute fix before selling your home. The tank should be pumped on a regular schedule, the drain field should be kept free of vegetation that could clog the drain lines and your entire family needs to be aware of excessive water use hazards. An annual inspection of your system will help monitor it for any minor problems that can be fixed before they result in major, costly repairs.

Once you are sure that your system is working effectively and efficiently, you can get a Title 5 Inspection. This is an excellent selling point because once your system is certified in the State of Massachusetts, you can list it as “Title 5 Certified” with your real estate agent. If your system fails the inspection and you are unable to get it fixed, you would need to list it as “Failed Title 5” with the agency. While this can be a problem for some buyers, it is better to let them know up front what to expect when they purchase your home.

The More You Know…

Before you buy or sell your home in Massachusetts, it is important to know everything you can about proper septic system maintenance and care, as well as requirements of Title 5 Inspection by the State of Massachusetts. Call All-Clear Septic for a consultation if you unsure of how to proceed. We service residential and commercial customers all over Southeastern Massachusetts, including New Bedford, Fall River, Middleboro, Dartmouth and out on the Cape, as well as all throughout Rhode Island. Give us a call at 508-763-4431 for more information about our septic and wastewater services.

septic maintenance

What NOT to Put in Your Septic System

The best way to avoid problems with your septic system is to know what NOT to put in it. Most people know that you shouldn’t flush any non-biodegradable materials, but there are a lot of everyday things that we all use that also should not find their way into your system. If you didn’t grow up with a septic system in your home, chances are you aren’t aware of the risks associated with using these products, so now is your chance to learn.


An easy way to remember the first batch of things that you should avoid putting down your drains:

  • F = FATS
  • O = OILS
  • G = GREASE

If you can avoid putting fats, oils and grease down your drains, your septic system will need a lot less cleaning and pumping. Commercial businesses are required to add a grease trap to food preparation areas to separate this type of wastewater from their on-site septic system, but homeowners should take heed to keep this gunk out of their systems as well.

One way to keep F.O.G.s out of your system is to pour any residual fats, oils or grease from cooking into an old coffee can for disposal instead of rinsing it down the kitchen sink. Oils, which can include body oils, hair oils, baby oil and other non-cooking items, should also be avoided whenever possible and not rinsed directly into the drain. Some hair conditioners and body lotions also fall under this category, so learn to be a label reader and look for products that are septic-friendly.


We use a lot of chemicals each and every day and don’t even realize it. Ammonia in the window cleaner, bleach in surface cleaners, disinfectants for the toilets – the list goes on and on. A lot of these household chemicals eventually make their way into your septic system where they can wreck havoc on the natural balance of bacteria and filtration, eventually leading to septic failure.

While it is important to keep your home clean and germ-free, make sure to choose all-natural, chemical-free solutions whenever possible and use toilet bowl cleaners sparingly according to the guidelines on the product labels. Choose laundry soap, stain removers, dish washing liquid, dishwasher soap and other products that go directly into the drain carefully. Look for non-toxic options that are made safe for septic use and follow the directions for usage to the letter.

Septic Tank Additives

There are a lot of products available on the commercial market that claim to be safe for use in septic systems. These additives are supposed to help keep your septic system running clean and clear, but can actually damage your system in the long run. Stick to a responsible preventative maintenance and cleaning program, learn about proper care for your septic system and apply all that you have learned to your daily activities, and you’ll never need to add tank additives anyway.

Toilet Trash Can

A lot of people use their toilet as a trash can, flushing things that really have no business being in the toilet, drain or septic system. We’ve already discussed oils, grease, chemicals and additives in your drains, but when it comes to the toilet, some people seem to lose all common sense. Non-biodegradable materials can actually kill off the beneficial bacteria that is used to treat your wastewater. Plastics, disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, condoms, cat litter, pet food, pet waste – the list goes on and on.

Poisonous Materials

If you have any leftover household chemicals from a renovation project, make sure to dispose of them responsibly. Don’t pour them down the drain and don’t just throw them in the trash can. Check with your local hazardous waste collection center for information on the proper disposal of paint, paint thinner, solvents and other toxic chemicals that can be dangerous for your septic system as well as the local landfill. Other poisonous, toxic materials that should never make their way down household or garage drains include antifreeze, pesticides, oil and gasoline.

Knowledge is Power

The more you know about septic systems and how they work, the easier it is to properly maintain and care for yours. Preventative Maintenance Programs, such as the one offered at All-Clear Septic & Wastewater can help you to save thousands of dollars on costly repairs by keeping your system clean and running smoothly. Give All-Clear a call at 508-763-4431 for more information about our septic services.

Tips for Commercial Septic System Property Owners

Most of the customer care information that you will find online with regard to septic systems is geared toward residential consumers.

Commercial septic system users have a completely unique set of guidelines, care tips and maintenance schedules that they need to adhere to in order to keep their systems in healthy running order. There are many commercial businesses that use septic systems including restaurants, schools, hospitals, beauty shops and laundry facilities.

This article will focus on the care and maintenance of septic systems for commercial business owners.

Wastewater and Water Usage

One of the biggest concerns for both residential and commercial clients is water usage and the amount of wastewater it adds to the system. Commercial systems that discharge less than 10,000 gallons of sanitary wastewater each day fall under the Massachusetts Title 5 regulation and all of the associated requirements. This includes Title 5 Inspections and rules regarding cleaning, usage and pumping, as well as repairs or upgrades of failed systems.

However, commercial systems that discharge industrial wastewater or anything other than sanitary wastewater must first store the non-sanitary wastewater in an industrial wastewater holding tank. These businesses must apply for a permit to use the industrial wastewater holding tank. Any sanitary wastewater from these same commercial businesses can continue to be discharged into an on-site system. The point is just to separate the non-sanitary wastewater from the on-site system for proper processing.

Industry-Specific Issues

Certain types of commercial businesses must address specific issues that are related to their unique industry. For example, according to Massachusetts State Law, printers, photo processors and dry cleaners must be certified under the Environmental Results Program (ERP), which is a program for streamlined permitting and compliance, due to the types of chemicals and industrial waste produced by their facilities. Other types of businesses will have other types of requirements under the law.

Beauty Shops

Under Massachusetts law, these facilities are able to utilize a septic system for toilet waste and regular shampoo water as long as they are using less than the 10,000 gallons per day limit. Wastewater that comes from chemical treatments, such as hair color, perms, straighteners, etc., must be store in an industrial wastewater holding tank with a permit from MassDEP. To faciliate this, beauty shop owners can choose to direct all sinks to the holding tank or use a special sink that has been separately plumbed for use with chemical treatments to ensure that the wastewater goes to the holding tank.


As long as it remains under the 10,000 gallon per day threshold, hospitals can send all sanitary wastewater from sinks, showers, toilets and laundry to a septic system. In most cases, however, hospitals will use much more than 10,000 gallons per day. Lab waste is considered to be industrial wastewater and must be stored in a MassDEP permitted holding tank.

Laundry Facilities

Again, as long as sink and toilet waste are sanitary and under the 10,000 gallons per day maximum, this type of business can send their wastewater to an on-site septic system. However, any wastewater from the laundry itself must be stored in a permitted MassDEP industrial wastewater holding tank. Businesses that offer both laundry and drycleaning services must fall under the regulation of a Dry Cleaner and are required to be certified under the ERP.

Office Buildings

As long as no chemicals or otherwise considered industrial wastewater is being produced, most office buildings are eligible to use an on-site septic system for sanitary wastewater that results from toilet waste, sinks and showers as long as it is under the 10,000 gallons per day limit. In this case, no other permitting or certification would be required.


Sanitary wastewater under 10,000 gallons per day can be discharged into a septic system if it comes from sink or toilet waste. Due to the food preparation and cooking that goes on in this type of business, all restaurants are required by Massachusetts State Law to install grease traps that can handle the wastewater that comes from the food preparation stations in the kitchen. All restaurant grease traps should be inspected on a monthly basis and must be cleaned once the grease level hits 25% of capacity or every three months.

Grocery Stores

As long as they use less than 10,000 gallons of water per day, grocery stores can discharge the wastewater from sinks and toilets to a septic system. Food preparation areas must have grease traps installed and, as with restaurants, should be inspected monthly and cleaned every three months or when the grease level reaches 25% of capacity.

Call a Professional Service

If you run a commercial business in the State of Massachusetts, you should contact a professional septic system service to ensure that you are working within the parameters of local law. All-Clear Septic & Wastewater has over 15 years of experience servicing, inspecting, repairing and cleaning septic systems for commercial and residential customers all over Southeastern Massachusetts. Call us today at 508-763-4431 for a professional consultation and evaluation of your septic system and help you stay on top of it all with our Preventative Maintenance Program.


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Drainfield… But Were Afraid to Ask!

Most property owners that have a septic system know very little about their drainfield. We are told not to plant anything other than grass on top of it, not to build anything over top of it, not to park vehicles or anything else on top of it – but unless you experience a failed septic system, it isn’t all that obvious just how important the drainfield is to the entire treatment process.

What is a Drainfield?

Your drainfield – which is sometimes called a leachfield or absorption field – is a network of pipes, trenches, gravel and soil. The pipes are perforated to allow wastewater to drip and flow through. They are laid inside of trenches or beds that are filled with gravel, which is also part of the filtration process. Soil surrounds the entire drainfield area and works in other ways to help your septic system work effectively.

What is the Process?

After it helps your solids to settle within the septic tank, liquid wastewater – which is sometimes called effluent – is discharged from the tank by one of two methods: pressure or gravity. It is moved to the absorption area, which is what we call a drainfield.

Gravity vs. Pressure: In a gravity discharge system, the wastewater will usually flow into a distribution box, which equally disburses it between the various trenches in the drainfield for final treatment. Pressure discharge systems will typically push the wastewater directly into the drainfield.

Once it reaches the drainfield, the wastewater trickles out of the pipes and passes into the gravel layer. Then it passes on down into the soil, which is where filtration happens on a micro level. The soil actually filters the wastewater like a composting system, percolating similar to an old-fashioned percolator coffee pot, passing through the various pore-like spaces within the soil. This is where the soil microbes go to work, treating the wastewater before it enters the ground water supply.

Fact: Soil that is dry, permeable and rich in oxygen that is located several feet below the actual drainfield is best suited for this process and will yield the most positive results.

Why is Soil Important?

Some people live in an area where the soil is sandy or rocky, while others live in areas with dark, rich soil or clay-based soil. The type of soil in your drainfield is actually very important because it is the final step in the treatment process, working to properly and safely dispose of the effluent before it works its way into the local surface or ground water. Clay soils can sometimes be too tight for filtration because of its natural density. However gravel or sand-based soils can sometimes be too loose, allowing too many solids to make their way through.

What is a Reserve Area?

Property that has had a new septic system installed since 1980 have what is called a reserve area. This reserve area is set aside, determined to be a suitable area for a new drainfield if it is needed. Because of its potential use, it must be treated just like your drainfield, meaning no planting, building or parking on top of it. A reserve area is required in the event of a failed septic system and it is important to ensure that one is available to replace the failed area.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Drainfield

Because we don’t all sit around taking about our septic systems with the neighbors or at family gatherings, this is a good place to answer some of the most important drainfield questions and address some of the issues that affect septic system owners.

  • Locate your drainfield and reserve area.
  • Don’t plant a garden or anything larger than grass over top of your drainfield.
  • Don’t park cars, equipment or anything over top your drainfield or reserve area.
  • Learn how to conserve water and find out what your maximum water usage should be for your system.
  • Keep excess water away from your drainfield such as drainage ditches, irrigation systems, runoff from roofs in storms or draining hot tubs and pools.
  • Don’t plant any trees or shrubs within 30 feet of the drainfield.
  • Plant grass over top of your drainfield to prevent soil erosion.
  • Don’t build anything or pave over your drainfield – no patios, garages, driveways or other structures.
  • Keep large animals off the drainfield – this is not a safe place to house livestock.

If you have any additional questions about maintaining and taking care of your drainfield, call All-Clear Septic & Wastewater at 508-763-4431. Located in Acushnet, Massachusetts, but serving customers all over Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island including New Bedford, Dartmouth, Fall River, Westport, Mattapoisett and Fairhaven, All-Clear can get you on a Preventative Maintenance Program that will keep your septic system working for you.

effluent fulters

What Is an Effluent Filter?

When it comes to maintaining a septic system in Massachusetts, there are a number of requirements placed on property owners by the state. However, there are additional measures that can be taken that, while not required by law, can really go a long way toward increasing the efficiency and longevity of your tank. An effluent filter is one of those things that can help your septic system run much more smoothly, improve the filtration process and protect your drainfield from getting plugged up by larger solids.

Installation: What to Expect

An effluent filter is installed in the tank, replacing the exit baffle. What this does it to filter all of the wastewater before it leaves the tank, preventing larger solids from getting into the drainfield. Depending on the location of your septic tank and the company that you hire to install it, the installation process shouldn’t take very long. Most newer units are only about a foot below the service and can have as much as a 24-inch opening over the exit baffle, making it simple to install or replace an effluent filter.

Obstacles can occur on older units that must be considered. If the tank is not up on risers and is more than four feet below the surface, it will take more time and cost more to install. If the opening over your existing exit baffle is only four inches across, as is seen in some older units, the installer will have to physically get inside the tank to install the filter. Speak with your septic service representative about your particular unit, its age and location to get a better idea of what to expect prior to installation.

The Advantages of an Effluent Filter

We already discussed the purpose of installing an effluent filter to aid in maintaining a septic system in Massachusetts, but there are also some distinct advantages to adding this filter to older systems. Even if your system has been properly maintained and is working efficiently, the exit baffle connections will eventually fall off in about 20-30 years and will need to be replace. This happens even with concrete baffles, so no system is one-hundred percent foolproof.

Replacement baffles are made out of PVC pipe and are attached to the pipe that comes into the tank rather than to the tank itself. This is why a replacement exit baffle is more durable than the original ones that were installed on these older units. Because there is no connection to hold the baffle to the septic tank, there’s nothing to corrode and fall off, making it a permanent replacement solution.

The effluent filter works in much the same way. It is made out of PVC and is installed to the pipe that comes into the tank, rather than being connected to the tank itself. If you are told that you need to replace the exit baffle, it is in your best interest to pay the extra money and have them put in an effluent filter instead because it will fix the issue and add extra protection to your drainfield at the same time.

How Important is an Effluent Filter?

Like with all other septic system issues and maintenance concerns, the importance or urgency of replacing the exit baffle with an effluent filter will be dependent upon the age of your system and your typical daily use. Systems that are over 20 years old should upgrade to an effluent filter as soon as possible to avoid issues associated with failed exit baffles.

Families that have small children should consider making the upgrade to an effluent filter as soon as possible due to the high volume of non-biodegradable items that inevitably get flushed by young ones. Families with teenagers need to consider the “evidence” that gets flushed, such as cigarette butts or condoms, as well as feminine hygiene products and an increase in beauty products that can make their way down the drain. When these items make their way to the drainfield they can cause permanent damage.

However, for households where there are just one or two adults and not a lot of company, there is much more control over what is going down the toilets and drains. While an effluent filter is beneficial to each and every home with a septic system, it is not as essential in a home situation like this as it is in a more crowded, varied household.

Call All-Clear Septic & Wastewater at 508-763-4431 for information about maintaining a septic system in Massachusetts. All-Clear can provide you with a professional evaluation of your system and let you know if an effluent filter will benefit your system, as well as the costs associated with this upgrade and the urgency that it should be added.


The Truth About a Failed Septic System

Proper preventative maintenance and an understanding of how to use a septic system can go a long way toward preventing failure, but it is important for property owners to understand what happens when a septic system fails so they know what they are trying to prevent. In addition to all of the costs associated with cleaning up, repairing and possibly replacing a failed system, there are other hazards to consider that, as property owner, you could be held responsible for if things get out of hand.

Some septic systems fail due to age, poor design or other issues not directly related to the abuse or neglect of the home or business owner, however in most cases failure is a direct result of abuse or neglect.

Neglect comes in not properly maintaining, cleaning and repairing the septic system, not upgrading it as it ages or as technology improves or just simply ignoring it and hoping that you won’t have a problem. Abuse comes in the form of putting chemicals and other waste into the system, flooding it regularly with excess water, not protecting the drainfield and a host of other user-related issues.

What Happens When the Septic System Fails?

When your septic system fails it can actually become a serious health threat that can affect not just you and your family, but your neighbors and the people who live all around you. Failed septic systems can also work to negatively impact the local environment, polluting groundwater, streams, lakes, ponds – anything within the general area. In fact, studies show that a single failed residential septic system could literally put thousands of water supply users at-risk, particularly if the home is in a public water supply watershed. Neglect and abuse does more than affect you and your wallet, it can actually spread disease, pollution and damage throughout your whole town.

Financial obligations associated with a failed system include the expenses and materials associated with repairing or upgrading the system. But what a lot of property owners don’t realize is that a failed system can also drastically reduce their property value. In the State of Massachusetts, property owners need to pass a Title V Inspection before they can sell or make structural changes to their home or buildings. If your system is failed – you won’t pass. You need to get on top of this right away or you will be subject to additional fines and penalties as stated in Massachusetts State Law.

Signs of a Failing System

For the sake of this article, let’s say that you are one of those neglectful or abusive septic system owners. You don’t get your system cleaned, pumped, inspected or evaluated on a regular basis and you really put a lot of heavy use on your system. The fact that your system hasn’t failed yet, filling your backyard with hazardous waste is nothing short of a miracle, but what are the signs that it might be getting ready to fail? Can you head off this disaster before it hits?

Basic signs that your septic system is failing or is about to fail:

  • occasional sewage odors
  • toilets that drain slow
  • sink or shower drains that drain slow
  • unusually quick growth over your drainfield or leach field area

Obvious signs that your septic system has failed:

  • sewage odors that won’t go away
  • sewage back-ups inside the house
  • sewage surfacing in the drainfield

Get Ahead of the Problem

The good news is that it’s never too late to make it all right and get on track with your septic system. The first thing you should do is call a professional septic service company that is licensed and certified in the State of Massachusetts to take care of all your problems. If you don’t need a Title V Inspection to sell or make changes to your home, you can request a Confidential Voluntary Assessment of your property to ensure that everything is in working order.

All-Clear Septic & Wastewater is licensed and certified to take care of all your septic system needs. They can provide an inspection or assessment as a part of a professional consultation to help you get your septic system on track. Cleaning, pumping, repairs, rejuvenation – All-Clear will do whatever it takes to get your system functioning properly.

All-Clear also educates customers about the proper usage and maintenance of septic systems to prevent problems in the future. A Preventative Maintenance Program is also available to take the worry out of septic system ownership – All-Clear will take care of it all for you with regular cleaning and maintenance schedules for optimum efficiency. Give All-Clear a call today at 508-763-4431 and get your septic system on the road to recovery!

Septic Systems for Dummies: A Beginner’s Guide to Proper Maintenance

There are a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding the proper care and maintenance of septic systems. Concerns expressed by citizens, the local boards of health and the EPA with regard to potential contamination of local drinking water supplies and area groundwater, prompted the State of Massachusetts to institute a law with regard to the proper construction and maintenance of on-site septic systems.

In 1995 Title 5 of the State Environmental Code was established to protect the citizens of Massachusetts from potential health threats by requiring property owners to receive an inspection of their private septic systems before selling, expanding or changing their homes in any way. Any septic systems that fail Title 5 Inspection must be upgraded or repaired.

How to Hire a System Inspector

If you are preparing to sell or make changes to your property, you will need to hire a licensed and certified inspector. In order to be qualified to inspect your property, a Title 5 Inspector must have passed the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administered exam, making it important to check on the identification, certification and references for any inspection service you are considering. The DEP website suggests that you get an estimate for inspection services in-writing.

If Your System Fails…

The State of Massachusetts gives property owners up to 2 years to upgrade or complete repairs on any septic system that fails a Title 5 Inspection. If you do fail you will need to contact your local board of health for information on obtaining approval for repairs, upgrades and other requirements. Hiring someone to do repairs or upgrades on your failed system should be done with the same care as hiring an inspector. Check ID, certification and references, taking care to hire a septic system service professional that will do quality work at a fair price.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost to upgrade or repair your system will depend upon several factors that are relative to your unique situation:

  • soil conditions
  • location to water supplies
  • size of the property
  • number of individuals using the system
  • reason the system failed inspection

For citizens living in the State of Massachusetts, there are a couple of ways to help you cover the costs associated with repairs or upgrades if you can’t afford them. You can apply to qualify for low-cost financing through the Federal Farmers Home Administration (FHA) or the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) or check with your city or town to find out if there are any “betterment” loan programs available to homeowners with low-cost, long-term financing opportunities. The State of Massachusetts also allows residents to take a system repair tax credit of up to $6,000 per homeowner, helping you to recoup your losses in a Title 5 failure situation.

Preventing Septic System Failure

The best way to avoid all of the costly repairs and upgrades associated with a failed septic system is to learn the proper methods for care and maintenance. Hiring a professional company to provide preventative maintenance services, regular system pumping every 2-5 years as-needed and minor lifestyle changes, respecting the unique requirements of living with a private septic system in order to increase its effectiveness and longevity.

Homeowners should consider getting a Confidential Voluntary Assessment inspection of their septic systems to determine whether there are any potential problems that need to be addressed before failure occurs. Preventative maintenance programs and receiving education about your particular septic system are two of the best ways to prevent septic system issues.

One of the chief causes of septic system failure is human error or neglect. Putting non-biodegradable items in your toilet or down your drain will clog the system and prevent it from working properly. Paper products, diapers, feminine products can be really damaging, but cooking oils, fats and grease will also thicken and clog your pipes. Water usage can affect your system as well, so its important to monitor and limit your use of water on a daily basis to avoid putting excess water into the system.

Quality Septic Services You Can Trust

Call All-Clear Septic & Wastewater at 508-763-4431 for information about our Title 5 Inspection, remedial repair, cleaning and preventative maintenance services. With over 15 years of experience serving residential and commercial customers throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, All-Clear has the knowledge, technology and experience you can depend on to take care of all your septic system needs.