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CSI: Culley’s Septic Inc. – Specializing in Title 5 and pumping services

“Big Yellow,” one of the Culleys’ trucks.
Photo/Jane Keller Gordon

By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer

Business name: CSI/Culley’s Septic

Address: 107 Coburn Rd., Berlin

Owners: Jeff and Chrissi Curtis

Contact information: 508-366-5055, 978-838-0200


Berlin – Jeff and Chrissi Curtis are serious about their septic business, which they purchased in 2004 from Robert Culley, Sr., who founded the company in 1944.

They’re serious about humor too.

Jeff named his company CSI: Culley’s Septic Inc. (CSI) after the television show, and he calls his truck, “Big Yellow.” The company’s slogan is: “A Royal Flush is better than a Full House.”

CSI provides Title 5 inspections all over Massachusetts, and residential and commercial pumping, repair and installation services—including 24-hour emergency calls—to customers within a 50 miles radius around Berlin.

“It’s better to work with a family-run business like us than a big corporation. We care about your septic system versus your money,” Chrissi said. “Replacing a septic system could cost you $20,000. We don’t want your system to fail.”

CSI is a family affair, with children, Kayla, Billy, Joey, and Cody helping out when they can.

Jeff and Chrissi recently shared their knowledge of septic systems with the Community Advocate.

How can I prolong the life of my system?

“Limiting water usage is key. High efficiency appliances and toilets, and water-saving faucets and showerheads make a big difference. Fix a running toilet; over time it could add gallons and gallons of water, and oversaturate your system. Emptying a hot tub into a system can lead to failure. That’s also true for a big-size bathtub that you use every day.

Garbage disposals are never good. Salt-based water softener systems are extremely harmful; they should be drained into a separate tank. In some cases, we recommend that once a month homeowners with water softener systems pour commercial-grade bacteria down their drain.

Be careful about what goes down your drain. Grease is the worst offender. Household chemicals can kill bacteria, which is necessary to break everything down in a septic system.     Even though a cup of bleach in a washing machine load is diluted when it hits a 10,000-gallon tank, it’s good to spread out loads. Also, liquid detergent is much better than powder, which might not completely dissolve and add a heavy soap buildup to a system.”

When is it time for a pump-out?

“As a general rule, a family of four can go about one or two years with a 1,000 gallon tank, and about two-to-three years with a 1,500 gallon tank.”

Foul odors do not always indicate that a system needs to be pumped out or is failing.  Ninety percent of our odor calls happen when somebody has a shower or sink downstairs that doesn’t get used. When the water in the trap evaporates, odors from the system seep up. It’s best to pour a cup of water down an unused drain, every week.

Real telltale signs of a problem are backing up toilets and other drains in your house. There might be visible water above a septic field or in a basement.”

You can’t sell a house without passing a Title 5 inspection.

“We can usually set-up an appointment within a week. The first step is that we contact the board of health in your town and request information on your property. We will conduct the inspection, and if your system passes, we’ll provide you with a report. If we find a problem, we’ll show you the issue. If you have a kitchen disposal, we will give you a conditional pass. A licensed plumber must remove the disposal from the sink.”

" Community Advocate Staff : ."