septic system

Bacteria and Enzymes in Your Septic System

What makes a septic system work properly? Billions of naturally occurring microscoBasic Septic Maintenancepic bacteria and enzymes are responsible for a major part of the three-stage treatment that processes wastewater in a septic system.

The wastewater in the septic tank begins the process of decomposition by separating into layers.  Bacteria, which is naturally present in all septic systems, will begin to digest the solids which have settled to the bottom of the tank.  These naturally occurring bacteria will change up to 50% of these solids into liquids and gases.

There are all kinds of additives on the market advertised to improve the biological environment of your septic system, but most experts agree that they are not needed.  The best plan is to keep high doses of cleaners and bleaches out of your septic system which can kill off the beneficial bacteria.

Another important part of the process occurs in the drainfield.  The effluent, or wastewater from the septic tank enters the drain or leachfield and comes into contact with the biomat.  There are organisms living in the biomat which further digest the organic matter in the effluent and from there it reaches the soil where the last part of the process occurs.  Bacteria in the soil further treat the waste. It is important that the drainfield not be flooded.  Many of these bacteria found in the soil and biomat are aerobic or oxygen dependent.  If water floods a drainfield, they may die off and will not be replenished until the flooding is relieved.

All Clear Septic can answer all your septic system questions.  Call them at 508-763-4431  or visit  Ask them about their maintenance program and emergency services.  They have all the answers to your septic needs.

This blog was posted on on February 17, 2016.


drain field

Soil and Your Septic System

Soil and

Drainfield Soil

 Soil plays a major part in the proper functioning of a septic system. Many people do not realize what an important role the type of soil can make in your drainfield. Soil failure can be  a major cause of septic system failure.

 Soil works as a fine filter, and is the home to trillions of microscopic organisms that feed on organic matter in the effluent from the drainfield.

Soil Types

The texture of the soil  determines how quickly wastewater will be absorbed in the drainfield.  Soil percolation is the ability of the soil to absorb water.  The best types of soil for drainage or percolation contain a balance of coarse and fine particles. 

Gravel, or soil with a coarse texture, or coarse sand may not be adequate.  They allow wastewater to pass too quickly to provide adequate treatment. These types of soils work only if they are deep. Soil may be brought in for septic systems and drainfields when the current soil is inadequate.

Clay Soil

Some soil mixtures may contain some particles of clay. Clay soil can be used in drainfields, but water moves through it much slower than in gravel or coarse textured soil. The problem with clay particles is that they can swell and block soil passages.  This slows the movement of wastewater even more.  If clay particles  electronically bond to sodium molecules contained in wastewater, hardpan can occur.  The passage of wastewater is totally blocked and this can lead to septic failure. Hardpan conditions in clay soil can be chemically treated.  There are some products on the market to treat this condition.

Since soil plays such a critical part in the life of your septic system, it’s best to leave it up to the experts.  Call All Clear Septic at 508-763-4431 for all your septic needs and questions.  Ask them about their septic system maintenance program.  Or visit

This blog was posted on on February 10, 2016.


septic functional inspections

Septic System Failure

What causes a septic system to fail?  What are some of the signs of a failed septic and what can you septic system failuredo to avoid this?  If you are a home owner with a private septic system, these questions may have run through your mind.  

What causes a septic system to fail?  We must start by understanding that wastewater is made up of organics and water. The organics come from human waste, soaps, garbage, etc. When excess organics are introduced into the system they clog the soils preventing water from passing through. If too much water is introduced into the system it can wash organics out of the septic tank and into the field speeding up the clogging of the soils. Excessive water can also hydraulically overload the system. Each septic system is similiar to a funnel and can only allow a fixed amount of water to pass through. If you exceed that amount of water the system will flood resulting in breakout of sewage onto the ground or backup of sewage into the house. Regular septic system maintenance can identify problems that can damage your system. 

What are some of the signs that your septic system is failing?    A foul smell inside the house or outside near the drainfield is a bad sign.  Also, wastewater flowing up to the ground near the drainfield, muddy soil around the septic system, water in the basement, toilets that back up as well as sinks when laundry is running and also thick, lush grass over the drainfield.  If you notice any of these signs, call a septic system professional from All Clear Septic right away.  Also taking part in the preventative maintenance program All Clear offers as well as regular inspections can prevent your septic system from  failing altogether.

What are other ways to help avoid septic system failure?  Keep toxic chemicals out of your system.  Never clean any oil-based products or chemicals in your sink such as paint rollers.  Keep toxic household cleaning products from entering your septic system.  Try to use “non-toxic” and “septic safe” cleaners.  Do not drain your hot tub into your septic system drainfield.  It was not designed to handle the large amount of water.  Make sure you let it cool and drain far away from your drainfield.  Also, garbage disposals can spell disaster for your septic system.  Start a compost pile for all your kitchen scraps and you can use this in your garden or flower beds.  Water softeners are also a sure way to kill your septic system. The backflush from water softeners containing salt should never be placed into the septic system

The best defense against septic system failure is prevention.  Call All Clear Septic at 508-763-4431 or visit  and see how they can help you with a maintenance program to keep your septic system functioning properly.

This blog was posted on on February 4, 2016.


All Clear Septic

How to Take Care of Your Drainfield

All Clear Septic




What is a drainfield?   drainfield  is sometimes called a leachfield or absorption field.   It 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.

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

How to Take Care of Your Drainfield

Locate your drainfield and reserve area  You should never plant a garden or anything larger than grass over top of your drainfield.  Planting grass is a good idea to combat erosion of the soil over the drainfield.  Don’t park cars, equipment or anything heavy over the top your drainfield or reserve area.   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.  Try not to build anything or pave over your drainfield – no patios, garages, driveways or other structures.  The drainfield  in not a  safe place to house livestock.

Follow these tips and you can extend the life of your drainfield.  Call All Clear Septic at 508-763-4431 to inquire about their septic maintenance program.  They can help keep your septic system running smoothly and extend the life of the system.  Visit for more information.

This blog was posted on on January 20, 2015.


Septic Maintenance in New England

Weather in New England and Southeastern Massachusetts can be brutal and unpredictable especially in the winter.  Maintaining your septic system is particularly important at this time of year.  Winter is not the time to deal with a costly repair.  Your way of life and haseptic maintenancebits can drastically affect your septic system for the good or the bad.

The Bathroom is the first place everyone thinks of when you talk septic system.  One-ply toilet tissue is better than the thicker brands and flushing only toilet tissue down the toilet is a good rule of thumb. Flushing anything else can cause problems with your system.  Making sure small children do not have access to the bathroom unattended can keep unwanted items from accidentally being flushed down the toilet.

Restricting the amount of water that goes into your system everyday can help extend the life of your system.  Low-flow showerheads and taps, water-saving toilets, shorter shower time, fixing any leaky faucets, turning the faucet off while you brush your teeth, can all reduce the amount of water that goes into your system daily and give the system time to effectively work.

The kitchen is also an important area to be diligent. Solids should never be put down the drain.  The more solids in your system, the harder it will have to work to break them down.  Curbing the use of chemical cleaners, especially bleach will help keep the beneficial microbes that naturally occur in a septic system in place.  These cleaners can kill off the good bacteria that help break up the waste in your system.

Composting can help.  Setting up a bucket near the sink for food waste such as egg shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grinds etc.    Then start a compost pile outside away from the septic system and periodically dump the bucket in this pile.  It will break down over time and be great fertilizer for your vegetable or flower garden in the spring.

Also, keep a grease can in the fridge. An old coffee can is ideal.  Keep straining your grease from cooking into the can and when it’s full, simply throw away and start with a new can.

These are some of the ways to keep your New England septic system up and running.  For more information, visit for everything you need to know about septic system maintenance and troubleshooting.  Call 508-763-4431.

This blog was posted on on January 13, 2016.


All Clear

Up Your Game with Septic System Risers


You can extend the life of your septic system by just performing a couple of simple and cost-effective tasks. Signing up for the All-Clear Preventative Maintenance Program is one way to eliminate septic system surprises and make simple adjustments that will prevent costly repairs or replacements. Another way to improve the effectiveness of your septic system is through the use of risers, covers and filters.


When your septic system is more accessible, it is also much more safe and attractive. These goals can be achieved through the use of strong, durable risers and system covers. Once installed, homeowners will be able to provide easy access to the system for future repairs, upgrades or cleaning services, eliminating the need to dig and excavate the system each time it needs to be pumped or inspected, making these services less costly.


People in the septic industry, including engineers, scientists and educators, suggest that property owners install an effluent filter in the outlet tee of their septic tank to extend the life of their system. Coupled with a regular maintenance program, such as All-Clear’s Preventative Maintenance Program, and professional pumping, your septic system could actually last indefinitely.  Due to the high cost associated with replacing a septic system, this seemingly small upgrade to your system will pay off in a big way.


Give All-Clear Septic & Wastewater a call at 508-763-4431 for more information about adding risers, covers and effluent filters to your septic system. Consultation services are available for both residential and commercial property owners free of charge.  We can help you save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your septic system through our Preventative Maintenance Program, services, education and system upgrade options.

Visit for more information.

This blog was posted on on January 6, 2015.

septic system

Understanding Septic System Terms

What are some common septic system terms and what do they mean?  Check out these definitions to better help you understand your septic system.

Absorption Field: Aseptic systemn underground leaching area within the soil that receives the liquid wastewater  and distributes it over a specified area where it is allowed to seep into the soil.

Black Water: Raw, untreated sewage and wastewater containing human waste.

Cesspool : A pit dug into the ground with the walls loosely lined by stone or brick to allow liquid wastewater to seep out of the cesspool into the ground while holding the solids in the pit.

Distribution Box: A hollow cylindrical or cubical structure constructed of concrete, fiberglass, plastic or steel. The Distribution Box is located underground between the septic tank outlet and the distribution field.

Effluent: Wastewater which flows out of a septic tank.

Effluent Filter: A housing and cartridge typically made of plastic located at the outlet of a septic tank containing small openings or bristles that allow liquids to pass through but block the flow of solids out of the septic tank into the distribution components.

Effluent Pump: A pump used to transfer liquid effluent from a pumping chamber to a distribution component when the effluent cannot flow by gravity.

Gray Water: Wastewater which does not contain human waste. Gray water is created from the use of laundry facilities, dishwashers, bathing, or other similar household activities.   Please note that most states consider laundry and bath water black water not gray water because it can contain human waste

Influent: Raw, untreated sewage and wastewater which flows into a septic tank.

Leach field: Another name for a absorption field.

Septic Tank: A tank made of concrete, fiberglass, plastic or steel used in a septic system in which accepts influent and is designed to separate and hold the solid matter of continuously flowing sewage. The tank also holds bacteria required for the digestion of the solids.

Septic Tank Riser: An extension of the septic tank used to raise the tank cover to ground level or higher for easy septic tank maintenance. Septic risers are easy to install and are designed to work with a wide variety septic tank configurations.

Sludge Layer: The bottom layer of matter in a septic tank that is heavier than water and comprised mostly of solids.

Scum layer: The top layer of matter that is lighter then water primarily comprised of fats oils and greases.

Vent Pipe: A vertical pipe made of plastic, steel, clay, or cast iron, that is connected to a component of a septic system that allows displaced air to flow to the atmosphere.

Visit for more information on all your septic needs or call 508-763-4431

This blog was posted to on December 31, 2015.



Title 5

FAQ on Title 5 Inspections


FAQ on Title 5

What do I need to do to sell my house or build an addition on my home?

If you own a home that has a private sewage treatment system in the State of Massachusetts, you are required to have a State-Certified Title V Inspector perform an official Title V Inspection on your system prior to selling your home or building an addition.

What is a Title V Inspection?

Since 1995, the State of Massachusetts has required homeowners to have their private sewage treatment system check thoroughly by a State-Certified Title V Inspector. Here is what you can expect from an official Title V Inspection – the inspector will:

  • conduct an interview with the property owner
  • research the paperwork for your property at your city’s Board of Health Department
  • survey the general size of the building or list a summary of the number of bedrooms
  • inspects the connection from the house/building to the system
  • inspects the inlet/outlet of the septic tank
  • examines the integrity of the tank
  • measures the liquid/contents of the tank
  • examines the integrity of the distribution box
  • measures the liquid/contents of the distribution box
  • checks the soil absorption system (SAS) condition
  • checks the relation of the system’s water table to the SAS
  • examines the integrity of the pipes using a special “sewer cam” (All-Clear specialty service, not required by the state)
  • provides an official 17-page document to the local approving authority and the owner, including all findings and a detailed sketch of the system

Is it possible to get an inspection even if I am not selling my home?

Yes, this type of inspection is called a Voluntary Assessment. All of the same steps in the above inspection detail will be taken, however the 17-page document will NOT be sent to your local approving authority – it is for your information only. A Voluntary Assessment is a great way to find out more about your own septic system. All-Clear highly recommends this to our clients as a means of properly maintaining, upgrading and repairing your system to prolong its life. Ask us about additional services we can provide to ensure the proper working of your septic system.

Can I get a Voluntary Assessment performed even if I don’t live in Massachusetts?

Yes, All-Clear is also certified to perform inspections in the State of Rhode Island.

Should I get my system pumped or cleaned before I get an inspection?

Absolutely not. The State of Massachusetts requires that your system be inspected under “normal use conditions” for a minimum of 2 weeks or more. If your system needs pumping during this period, we can arrange to have it done for you while the components of your system are exposed.

Will my landscaping be affected by the inspection?

The All-Clear team is very respectful to the landscaping of your home or property. In order to minimize the amount of physical work required to perform your inspection, we use state-of-the-art locating equipment that helps us to locate your system components within a 4-inch radius. We also use a specialized “sewer cam” to let us inspect your pipes without having to dig them up. Any sod that needs to be removed is cut carefully and laid on tarps so it can be neatly replaced when your inspection is complete.

Visit for all your questions or call 508-763-4431.  We are happy to talk to you and put your fears to rest.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year from All Clear Septic.

This blog was posted on on December 23, 2015.

Title 5 Inspections

Title 5 Inspections

Title 5 InspectionsAre you buying or selling a home and think the Massachusetts Title 5 Requirements are confusing?  Here is some information to help you through the process of a Title 5 Inspection.

In general:  On-site system inspections are required:

  • When properties are sold, divided or combined.
  • When there is a change in use or an expansion of a facility.
  • When MassDEP or the local Board of Health requires an inspection.
  • Title 5 requires inspections for large systems, shared systems, and condominiums on a periodic basis. Systems located in cities and towns with MassDEP-approved inspection programs are required to comply with local inspection requirements.   There are always exceptions to the rule, but these are general guidelines.Many people ask who is responsible when the septic system fails and needs to be replaced.  The owner or operator of the system is the legally responsible party required to upgrade a failing system. Prior to transfer of the property, this is typically the seller. Often, the buyer and seller work out the financial issues as part of the sale of the property. Title 5 does not require that a system be in passing condition prior to the sale, but most lenders will not issue a mortgage until the failing system is upgraded or funds to perform the upgrade are escrowed.

    Inspections are valid for a certain period of time. Inspections required in connection with a property transfer generally are good for two years. If a property is sold more than once in the two-year period, the single inspection is valid for all transfers. When a system is pumped on an annual basis and the pumping records are available, an inspection is valid for three years.

    How do I have my system inspected if I am selling the property in the middle of the winter?

    If weather conditions prevent an inspection before a sale, Title 5 allows the inspection to be done up to six months afterwards, provided that the seller notifies the buyer in writing of the need to complete the inspection.

    There are many components included in the system inspection.  General layout of the system components (location of the building sewer, septic tank or cesspool, distribution box and leaching field);  Type of use (e.g., house, school, retail space), Title 5 design flow, and whether the facility is presently occupied;  Analysis of the criteria specified in Title 5 that indicate system failure, and, for large systems, those which indicate threats to public health and the environment; Water use records from the previous two years, if available;A description of the septic tank, including its condition, approximate age, thickness of grease/scum layer, and other relevant information;A characterization of the distribution box and dosing tanks with pumps, if any, such as condition and evidence of solids carryover or backup; and The condition of the soil absorption system including, any signs of hydraulic failure.

    The property owner or facility operator is generally responsible for arranging an inspection. However, prior to the time title is transferred, the seller and buyer may contractually assign responsibility for the inspection, provided that it occurs within the specified timeframes.

    The completed Inspection Form must be submitted within 30 days of the inspection, in most cases to the local Board of Health. Inspection Forms for state and federal facilities must be sent to MassDEP. Both MassDEP and the local Board of Health get copies of the Inspection Form for large systems and shared systems (310 CMR 15.301(10)). 

     The buyer of the property receives a copy of the completed inspection form as well as the seller.

    Visit for more information or call 508-763-4431

  • This blog was posted on on December 16, 2015.
All Clear Septic

Septic Maintenance- Part 3

All Clear SepticAnother way to prevent unnecessary stress on your system is to know how many appliances are hooked up to your septic system and when they are operating.  Washing machines, dishwashers, showers, baths, and hot tubs all use a large quantity of water, and should never be used at the same time.  This large quantity of water, if drained all at the same time, has the possibility of stirring the solids in the bottom of the septic tank which can then make it to the drain field which reduces the effectiveness of the field and may clog the system.  If you can, do not use showers, washing machines and dishwashers at the same time.  This will allow the water to flow into the septic system and drain normally without stressing the system.  Hot tubs should never be drained into the septic system.  To drain it,  let the water cool and drain it onto the lawn or other location away from septic systems, drain systems, or the home itself, and in accordance with local regulations.

Garbage disposals also put a serious strain on the septic system.  Using one increases the amount of solids sent to the septic tank dramatically and decreases the time between pumpings.  In some cases the ground solids will float on the surface and may even pass to the drain field which can lead to blockages or other septic failures.  If you have a septic system, discontinue use of a garbage disposal to increase the life of your septic system and reduce the number of times you need to pump it.

Household chemicals and cleaners can seriously impact the function and degrade the physical structure of your septic system.  Most cleaning chemicals and cleaners should not be put down the toilet.  Depending on the chemical being used, it can kill the bacteria in your tank which help to naturally digest some of the solids and process the waste in the septic tank.  Without these bacteria, the tank will not function properly and will need to be pumped or serviced  much more often.  Hazardous waste such as gasoline, paint thinners, oils, paints, and pharmaceuticals should never be put into the septic system.  This dramatically increases the chance of polluting the soils and groundwater, and may cause serious damage to the septic systems’ structures and biological processes.

One of the easiest things you can do to help maintain your septic system is to keep good records of installations, pumpings and service calls.  With good records you will be able to help service personnel determine possible issues far easier as they will have a good history of the system and can help predict problems.  They will also be a good reminder of when you should have the system serviced or pumped to ensure a long-lasting and effective septic system.   CONTACT US ABOUT OUR MAINTENANCE PROGRAM.  WE GUARANTEE YOU WILL PASS A TITLE 5 INSPECTION IF YOU ARE ON OUR MAINTENANCE PROGRAM OR YOUR INSPECTION IS FREE.  ALL MAINTENANCE CUSTOMERS GET HALF OFF THE INSPECTION PRICE.

Remember, your toilet is not a catch-all for household waste.  It is far better to put whatever it is in the trash than into the septic system to help prevent costly repairs and repeated service calls.  If you do have questions or concerns about your septic system, don’t hesitate to call All-Clear Septic and Wastewater Services at 508-763-4431 today!

You can also visit for information.

This blog was posted on on December 9, 2015.