508.896.6601 Brewster, Cape Cod
Sewage Disposal System


How does a Sewage Disposal System work?

A typical sewage disposal system or septic system is comprised of three main components. First, the septic tank component is used to settle out solids in the waste stream and allows the liquid portion to flow into the distribution box. This second component, also referred to as the D-Box, allows the liquid waste to flow equally and evenly over the last component, the soil absorption system.

The soil absorption system disperses the waste effluent into the soil around and below the system. The bottom and sidewalls of the soil absorption system, over time, develops a slimy mass known as the biomat. The biomat further treats the waste through filtration, absorption and aerobic bacterial digestion.

There is some treatment of nitrogen and phosphorous within the within a standard sewage disposal system. Other types of components can be added to a sewage system so as to provide a higher level of treatment to the waste stream. These types of system are typically used in environmentally sensitive areas around the Cape and Islands. Components providing the higher level of treatment to the waste are typically referred to as Innovative Alternative Technology.

When should a sewage system be pumped?

Pumping frequency for single family homes vary depending on the amount of daily flow, concentration of the wastewater entering the septic tank, the number of persons served and the tank size. A system serving a dwelling that is only used every weekend during the summer months can go longer between pumping than a home which is occupied on a year round basis.

J. M. O’Reilly & Associates, Inc recommends a professional inspection at least once every two years so as to determine the pumping frequency. The homeowner should plan to pump the septic tank every 3 to 5 years.

Is my sewage system working properly?

There are many different signs when a sewage system is having problems properly disposing of the wastewater.

Direct sewage backup into a basement washing machine hook-up or first floor tub is the most alarming warning that the system is either in a state of failure or a pipe is blocked or collapsed.
Lush grass over the soil absorption system is a sign of effluent getting to the root zone of the vegetation. This may not be a sign of failure, but it should be investigated.
A gurgling sink or tub as it drains, or a slow draining toilet is a sign that there may be a back up of the sewage within the system.
Damp, wet or a mushy ground surface over the soil absorption system is a sign that the system is backed up, but has not backed up to the point of flowing back into the dwelling.

Please contact J.M. O’Reilly & Associates at 508-896-6601 or [email protected] if you have any concerns about the function of your home’s sewage disposal system.

Why have your sewage system inspected?

There are several reasons why a property owner needs or wants to have their sewage system inspected.

The most common reason is due to a pending sale of the property. Under 310 CMR 15.000 of the Massachusetts Sanitary Regulations, known as Title 5. When a property is served by a private sewage system governed under Title 5 and is to be sold, the property owner is responsible for the inspection of the sewage system. The person doing the inspection needs to be licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental protection. J.M. O’Reilly & Associates, Inc .is licensed and a recognized expert in completing real estate transfer inspections.

If a property is to be improved with an expansion of living space or sewage flow, the existing sewage system needs to be inspected, again by a licensed system inspector within the Commonwealth.

As referenced above, under “Is my sewage system working properly” (LINK TO ABOVE), the property owner may want to have the system uncovered and investigated for compliance or operational issues. Under this circumstance, the inspection would be voluntary and the results would be shared between the property owner and the inspector. The nature of the inspection may change if the system was found to be in danger of impacting the public health and safety.

Please contact J.M. O’Reilly & Associates at 508-896-6601 or [email protected] if you have any questions or needs relative to the inspection of your sewage disposal systems.

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J.M. O’Reilly & Associaties, Inc.

1573 Main Street Brewster, MA P.O. Box 1773 Brewster, MA
Phone: 508.896.6601
Fax: 508.896.6602
Land Surveying Cape Cod