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©Heath Coker
39 Judy Ann Dr, East Falmouth.
MA. 02536 USA
Tel:(508) 548 8888

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Nancy Coker Helin

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You can find great local Falmouth, Massachusetts real estate information on Heath Coker is a proud member of the ActiveRain Real Estate Network, a free online community to help real estate professionals grow their business.
What you should know in order to IDENTIFY and MAINTAIN you sewage system....

This web page was prepared for the Home Owners, Home Builders, Residents, Septage Pumpers, Realtors and Lending Institutions in the OCPC area. Your On-Site Sewage Disposal System can provide trouble free service for many years if maintained properly. This page addresses the following topics:

system info / indications of failure / reasons for failure / prevention steps / top of page / home page

On-site wastewater disposal systems (septic systems) or cesspools in older homes provide for the treatment and disposal of the waste-water. Cesspools and septic systems have been known, with proper MAINTENANCE, to perform effectively for many years.

Your on-site disposal system is just as important to you as your furnace. A new system of any type or repairs to the old one are very costly. Cost variation is due to the type of failure, soil conditions. water table and lot size. Proper MAINTENANCE is the least expensive method.

Cesspools are not allowed in new construction, but a large number of our older homes are still using them. From these homes the building sewer (pipe) goes directly to the cesspool. The cesspool is a large pit and the sidewalls could be either concrete block or fieldstone, with an earth bottom. The lighter solids and grease (scum) float at the top and the heavier solids (sludge) settle to the bottom. The liquid seeps through the perforated blocks or the irregular stones. Life span is limited, although with proper MAINTENANCE they could function effectively for many, many years. Should the cesspool overflow, it is usually because the pores in the sidewall and the surrounding soil have been clogged with solids. Normally this occurs from lack of periodical inspections and infrequent pumping out of the scum and sludge. It is recommended that there should be an annual inspection.

The approximate composition of household sewage is 40% toilet, 15% laundry, 30% bathing, 10% kitchen and 5% miscellaneous.

Cross Section View of a Septic Tank

system info / indications of failure / reasons for failure / prevention steps / top of page / home page


  • "Mushy" soil above or near the septic tank, cesspool, leaching field, or liquid surfacing in these areas.
  • Foul odor from sewage area, nearby streams, wetlands, etc.
  • Any backup of sinks or toilets not caused by blockage of internal pipes within the house.
  • Tall green grass above or near the leaching area, septic tank or cesspool.

system info / indications of failure / reasons for failure / prevention steps / top of page / home page


  • POOR LOCATION for your leaching area. Soil is not pervious enough, the water table is high, or there is inadequate percolation of liquids through the soil.
  • EXCESSIVE SOLIDS in the cesspool, or if there is a septic tank, there could be an overflow of solids into leaching area.
  • POOR INSTALLATION: Drain pipes and distribution pipes not properly graded, or septic tank is not level.
  • DESIGNED too small for the present demand.
  • DRAIN PIPES may become clogged with solids, or roots may have grown into the leaching area.

system info / indications of failure / reasons for failure / prevention steps / top of page / home page


  • DO NOT install garbage disposals as they are a leading factor of clogged systems.
  • DO NOT put solids, sanitary napkins, paper towels, grease, hair, oil or coffee grounds down the drain.
  • INSPECT OR PUMP OUT on-site systems annually. Do not wait until you have a problem.
  • CONSERVE ON WATER: Excess water can create problems. Install water saving devices wherever possible.
  • DO NOT put additives into your system. Medicines, paint, paint thinner, disinfectants, pesticides and acids will only kill the bacteria which is needed to decompose the organic matter.
  • DO NOT use enzymes or acid for treating your septic tank or cesspool.
  • DO NOT plant shrubs or trees with deep roots near your leaching area.
  • DO NOT allow heavy equipment to drive over leaching area.