Septic Perc Test: Preparation, Process & Failure

What is a perc test for septic systems?

When buying land for development purposes, perc tests will need to be carried out to determine suitability for septic systems.

Percolation Test For Septic Systems

Before a septic system ever gets installed in an area, an analysis of the location’s conditions is necessary. This is because certain conditions are known to be more favorable for septic installations than others.

The entire process hinges on finding the water absorption rate of the soil. In other words, a percolation test is necessary to determine if soil can support a septic system or other structure.

Ordinarily, connecting to a sewer line or system won’t require this process. However, if your current area is quite distant from a municipal sewer system, you’ll have to install a septic system.

Water Absorption Rate Is Critical

For a septic system to function effectively, the soil must have a good absorption rate. Passing this test will depend on the soil type. Soils with high sand and gravel content tend to perform better than those with solid rock or high clay content.

It’s important to state that there’s no certainty that soil high in sand and gravel will pass a perc test. The chances of passing the test are only more likely than not. Before a percolation test is carried out, it will need the supervision of your local health department.

If You Have Access To A Municipal Sewer System, There Won’t Be Need For A Perc Test

We earlier made mention of the ideal requirement for a perc test.

Although such mention was made in passing, it’s important to note that access to a municipal sewer system means you won’t have to conduct a perc test.

Your local health department will first determine if such a perc test is necessary. The aim of this test to ensure your location is ideal for septic system installation.

You may want to by-pass all of these procedures to find or buy a property with an existing sewer hookup.

Preparing For A Septic Perc Test

Before a septic system is ever installed in a certain location, basic processes must be adhered to. These involve adequate preparations.

Preparations in this sense include giving your health department a call. The reasons for this are obvious; you’ll need to have an understanding of all the requirements before commencement.

Getting a heads-up is necessary as different counties may have their unique procedures. You only get to perform this test after meeting all criteria or requirements issued by the local health department.

An official from the health department will likely be present to witness such a test.

Only Purchase A Parcel of Land After Perc Testing

One of the ways to put your resources to good use is only investing in a land that has been found to pass a perc test. If the location of such land is such that you can’t ignore it, nothing is stopping you from going ahead with the purchase.

However, purchasing the land doesn’t make it automatically necessary to develop it.

In other words, a failed perc test remains a failed test. You’ll have to seek other ideas to put such land to good use. Recreational use of the purchased land may be considered.

This is only a suggestion as the decision lies with you. You decide what use to put such land into.

Who Performs A Perc Test?

The perc test isn’t performed by the property owner or the local health department. Rather, the property owner calls for it. In this case, you’ll need to call a licensed excavator to perform this test.

The presence of an official from the local health department is necessary during the testing process.

The reason for calling a professional excavator is for purposes of digging. Holes are dug around the proposed site to determine its water absorption rate. More on this will be discussed shortly.

A Perc Test May Fail

Before you undertake any septic perc test, you should know that a septic permit is issued at the end of every successful test. As expected, a septic permit won’t be issued after an unsuccessful test.

So, the possibility of installing a septic system on a parcel of land is diminished with a failed test.

How A Septic Perc Test Is Performed

A septic perc test seeks to examine the absorption rate of soils. Now, this needs to be performed in a definite way and involves the drilling of holes on the property.

This is called a deep-hole test. Machines are used to drill such holes to depths equal to the proposed leach field.

To have an idea of how deep such holes go, they’ll measure around 7 to 10 feet or more. The aim is to find out if there’s rock presence, impermeable soil, or a high water table. All of these will negatively impact the test results.

Septic perc test results may not be available or ready the same day. Such results may be ready once soil sample tests are performed in the lab.

Is There Hope Of Ever Developing a Land After A Test Failure?

Whenever a desirable piece of land doesn’t pass a septic perc test, the owners are likely to worry. This is understandable because they cherished such location and would have loved to build a structure that includes a septic system.

The good news is that you still can! Alternative septic systems provide the answer. In the absence of the right conditions for a conventional system, you can turn to anyone that seems possible.

The downside associated with alternative septic system installation has to do with the cost.

Compared to conventional systems, alternative septic systems are pricey. This will cost you thousands of dollars more than what you’d have installed if the perc test was successful.

However, this shouldn’t be much of an issue as long as it allows you to turn or put your land to good use. You’ll have to find the most appropriate alternative system that fits your condition.

A septic expert would prove very helpful in this regard.

Septic perc tests are necessary for determining the absorption rate of soils. We’ve also seen that such tests won’t be necessary for municipal sewer systems.

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