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Septic System Failure Information

If your septic system failed Title 5 inspection, or was determined to be a "conditional pass" or "needs further evaluation", see below for information on the next steps in the process.

How can my septic system fail?

  • A septic system can fail in a myriad of ways. Below is a list of common failure points:

    • Deteriorated or broken structures such as distribution boxes and septic tanks​

    • Cesspools are being phased out in Massachusetts and can often trigger an automatic failure

    • Hydraulic failure of the septic field which backs up wastewater to the ground surface or home

  • A system does not have to be a total failure! The provisions in the Title 5 inspection process allow for partial failure where only a tank or a distribution box has to get replaced instead of the whole system

  • A system can also conditionally pass. In this case, you may have some smaller commitment to your system like pumping it or having it otherwise serviced

What can I do in the case of failure?

  • You have a few tools at your disposal when your septic system fails. Which avenue you pursue is dependent on how system failed.

    • In the Event of a conditional failure, the Board of Health will determine actions necessary to bring the system into compliance with Title 5. This often ends up being a replacement of a damaged or deteriorated portion of the system.​

    • In the event of a total, unconditional system failure, the system most often needs to be completely replaced. This is a larger and more expensive undertaking than replacing specific portions of the system.​

      • Financial assistance is available in the event of a failed Title 5 inspection. Special septic repair loans can be taken out to assist with the financial burden. MassHousing offers a great program to help assist with this (more information here).

      • In rare cases, an agreement can be made with a prospective buyer regarding the septic system. Have a discussion with your realtor for more ways to avoid the cost of a new septic system.

How do I go about replacing my septic system?

  • The first step in replacing a system is to find and hire a reputable engineering firm to complete the design process for you. This process will likely require a survey of your property as well, and may come in handy when selling your home. The engineering and design process will typically take a few months for full design completion and approval by local authorities.

  • While your design is being approved by the town, you can get quotes and estimates from local septic installers and prepare to hire a contractor to do the job. The local Board of Health is required to keep a list of licensed installers in your town of residence. If you have trouble finding this information, do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we will happily provide you your town list.

  • Septic system installation does not take very long, sometimes a couple weeks, and with a skilled installer, as little as a few days.

  • After installation of your new system, the local Board of Health will inspect and sign off on the septic system and you will be free to either sell your property, or remain in your home with the knowledge that you have a new and properly functioning septic system!

If you have any questions about septic failure or the replacement/repair process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at A & S Title 5 Services. We have many years of septic design and construction experience and can be very helpful in getting you a full understanding of your particular situation.

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