Excavation and Septic Services on Cape Cod

About Septics

Contact us to request an inspection of your system.

A septic system has two parts: the septic tank and the soil absorption area. The septic tank is a watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Newer tanks generally have risers with lids at the ground surface to allow easy location, inspection, and pumping of the tank. In Massachusetts, septic systems are regulated by local towns based on Title 5, the state environmental code governing septic systems. Here is how a typical septic system works:

Sometimes a septic system will also have an additional filter installed at the outlet from the septic tank to the leach field. These filters are very effective at stopping the smaller particles from entering the leach field and help lengthen the life of your system.

Don't wait until you have a problem! Have your system pumped and inspected on a regular basis.

Septic Do's

  • Know where your septic tank and leach field is. If you do not know, many local health departments will have plans on file.
  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped regularly and keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits and other system maintenance.
  • If you have a filter in your system, be sure to clean it annually.
  • Help promote bacteria. Yeast, baking soda and sugar all help. You can also buy "enzyme" packs to help bacteria growth, although there is some controversy about how much they work. In any case, using enzyme packs does NOT replace regular system maintenance!
  • Use biogradeable products whenever possible, especially for your laundry and dishwasher. Look for "septic-safe", "no chlorine", "natural" labels.
  • Spread your laundry over several days. Load after load can overwhelm your system by flooding your drain field without allowing sufficient recovery time.
  • Grow grass or small plants (not trees or shrubs) above the septic system to hold the drain field in place.

Septic Don'ts

  • Use bleach, disinfectants, drain and toilet bowl cleaners or any products with bleach or labeled "antibacterial", "sanitizing", "disinfectant" sparingly. They can destroy the bacteria that help break down the waste.
  • Don’t use commercial-grade drain cleaners to clear a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.
  • Don't use colored toilet paper.
  • Do not dump grease or non-biodegradables such as cigarette butts, diapers, feminine products, paint thinner, anti-freeze, pesticides, etc. down your sink or toilet.
  • Garbage disposals are very hard on septic systems. If you use one, the system must be pumped more often.
  • Don't winterize your pipes with anti-freeze. Look for "propylene glycol" (instead of ethylene glycol) or glycerine
  • Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system as it will compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.
  • Be sure you don't plant trees near your septic system. Tree roots can clog pipes.
  • Keep roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and other drainage systems away from the leach field. Flooding the field can slow or stop the septic treatment process and cause plumbing fixtures to back up.

Some good sites for more information