Don’t Buy Land Without Reading This – The Ultimate Guide to Perc Tests

Are you thinking of purchasing land to build your dream home? Before you do, there is one very important test that you need to know about: the percolation, or “perc,” test. This ultimate guide will walk you through everything you should know about perc tests so you move forward with the best knowledge and avoid pitfalls.

Definition of Perc Test:

A Perc test, short for percolation test, is an evaluation used to determine the rate at which soil will absorb water. a septic drain field or “leach field.” This test is critical to the design and installation of all septic systems where the soil will filter the wastewater and distribute it appropriately through the site.

What Is a Perc Test Measuring?

In simple terms, a septic system is a natural means through which household wastewater is discharged to the environment through soil absorptive functions. This can function properly if the soil can continue to successfully absorb and filter sewage at predetermined rates; otherwise, the environment is at risk. The soil being too porous lets raw sewage run through to the groundwater, causing a potential health risk. If the soil is too tight, the system may overload and fail, thereby causing surface ponding and noxious fumes.

How does a Perc Test work?

A perc test is carried out in the following manner:

1. Site Selection: A suitable location is chosen where the septic system is meant to be planned.

2. Digging Test Holes: It is a common practice that one or more test holes be excavated within the area planned for a leach field. Usually, these test holes are about 12 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 feet deep.

3. Pre-soaking: Holes are often pre-soaked with water for many hours or sometimes even overnight to obtain waterlogged soil conditions.

4. Percolation Rate Measuring: After an overnight soak, water is poured into the holes and the rate at which it percolates through the soil is measured. This is done by refilling the hole to a predetermined height and timing how long it will take for the water to decrease in level by a predetermined amount, say inches per hour.

Results of a perc test will indicate the suitability of soil for a septic system and further enable the design of the appropriate size and type of the system.

image of a man performing a perc test on a plot of land

Factors Influencing Perc Test Results

Factors that may influence the outcome of perc test include:

Soil Texture and Composition: In general, sandy soils have high percolation rates, clay soils have low rates, and loamy soils are intermediate.

Soil Moisture Content: The natural moisture content of the soil is capable of affecting the rate at which the soil will imbibe water.

Soil Structure: Compacted layers or rocky formations slow down the water flow.

Regulatory Requirements

Local health departments or environmental agencies many times have regulations for the standards and procedures of performing a perc test. Many local health and environmental departments may require or demand such specific testing techniques and acceptable percolation rates that are required to approve a septic system. This failure in the perc test can mean a totally different route must be taken with the treatment of waste waters, like engineered septic systems, or a better location on the property must be found.

Getting a Permit

For the most part, the installation of a septic system requires some sort of permit, and the ability to receive a tentative permit is heavily dependent upon the results of some sort of acceptable perc test. This will include the submission of the results of the test, along with a site plan that verifies exactly where the test was conducted and the application within the jurisdiction of the local regulatory body.

A perc test is one of the very critical stages that will help in making some evaluation of how a septic system will work. The essence of a perc test is to measure the absorption and filtration of wastewater into soils for averting environmental contamination and system failure. In knowing such importance and how such works, it would greatly assist homeowners, builders, and environmental professionals to make informed decisions on septic system installations.

Frequently Asked Questions On Perc Testing

What is a perc test?

A perc test is a test to measure the ability of the soil to convey water. It is done so as to design and establish a septic system. It is done by digging holes, adding water, and timing how long it takes for the water to drain.

Describe the process of a perc test.

Contractors dig one or more test pits down to the depth of the septic system placement, typically in the vicinity where the septic system will be sited. The bottoms are filled with gravel, they’re filled with water, and the depth of the water column is measured over time, often after repeated fillings.

What is the cost of a perc test?

The average perc test will generally cost between $750 and $1,850, but it can run from as little as $150 for the simple tests to as much as $3,000. Costs could vary big time due to location or soil conditions, or perhaps the number of holes that need to be dug.

What happens if a property does not perc?

A failed perc test means that the soil is not going to support a regular septic system. Alternatives can be finding a different site on the property, using more advanced treatment systems, or looking at off-grid solutions, which are composting toilets. Local authorities would be consulted to investigate the available alternatives which are realistic under the local regulations.

How long do perc test results last?

The typical results from a perc test are valid for a maximum of five years. This is indicative that such conditions of soil variation have not occurred significantly over this period and that results obtained can be relied on when planning septic systems.

Why would you care to do a perc test?

This testing is crucial in ensuring a proper functioning septic system with no chances of environmental contamination through poorly treated waste. It helps in designing a system that does not only properly treat the waste but also does not harm the groundwater and environment.

Can I do a perc test myself?

While it is possible to conduct a basic perc test yourself, it is recommended to hire professionals to ensure accuracy and compliance with local regulations.

How long does a perc test take?

The duration can vary, but typically a perc test can be completed in a single day. The exact time depends on the soil conditions and the specific procedures followed.

Am I required to have a perc test done before installing a septic system?

Yes, a perc test is usually required to obtain a permit for installing a septic system. Local regulations will dictate the necessity and specifics of the test.

These frequently asked questions help make sure that homeowners and buyers understand how important perc testing is with property development and/or septic system installations. Want a perc test? Check out the perc test cost in Georgia.

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