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What is a Perc Test & When Do You Need One?

What is a Perc Test & When Do You Need One?

If the land is purchased changed, transferred or sold, or improved, a test for perc may be required to determine the drainage rate of the soil. Perc tests are crucial elements of safe and legal home improvements or transfers. In the end, every property owner would like to know if their home will be able to take on an improved or new septic system!

Are you not sure how to obtain the test, or why you should even have one? In this article, we’ll explain the meaning of a perc test and how it functions and when you’ll need to take one, the average costs, as well as other details you need to know. Use an area calculator for the measurement.

What is a Perc Test?

In short, it is that a perc test tests the soil’s capacity to absorb moisture. Particularly the test will determine the time it takes soil to remove the water added to it. Perc tests are typically essential for any property with a septic system because perc tests are able to help identify the ideal location for leach fields, drains or any other components of a septic system.

Most perc tests are performed by certified professionals who specialize in the design of a septic system as well as land surveying. Get the help of the land area calculator for shape area measurement.

When Do You Need a Perc Test?

Imagine that the property is upgraded however the new septic tank has been set in soil that doesn’t drain the water properly. In such a situation the consequences could be expensive (not to mention disgusting).

Perc tests can assist surveyors of land and construction workers to identify the best or worst places to build the Septic system. Additionally, there are many local jurisdictions that require tests for perc before the construction of new septic systems. constructed or septic systems can be repaired.

Septic tanks store the wastewater for a long time so that it naturally breaks down into liquids and solids. The clarified liquids are put into a drain field or funnel that is buried that are several feet below the surface. The liquids flow into the soil.

Perc test

As you could envision, the dirt that is used for the septic tank has to be able to drain enough so that the system functions perfectly. For an oath test, experts assess the slope and the quality of the soil. They will also test the sand and gravel content, and also other elements. Most often, soils with lots of rock or clay aren’t suitable for installing the septic system as the rate of drainage is typically not that high.

In addition, perc tests can be vital for rural areas that aren’t served by sewer systems that are used by municipal authorities. If the test fails, it could result in houses not being constructed in specific zones. For investors or developers, this means that perc tests are extremely important because they determine what kind of property you can submit an offer for.

Perc tests are done by whom and how do they work?

Perc tests are always conducted by a septic tanks specialist or land surveyor with the necessary equipment and knowledge to pass the test. While tests that are official must be conducted by licensed experts, they’re not always all that complicated.

Actually, the majority of tests using perc are relatively straightforward. The technician digs a hole or two and then observes the time it takes for water to flow through the holes in order to determine the rate of drainage in the soil surrounding it. They measure specifically”percolation rate” or “percolation rate” and calculate it by looking at how much water was pumped to the hole(s) and then dividing the result by the amount of time that is taken for the water to drain.

For instance, if it takes 2 hours to drain the water approximately 2-inches, then the ground will have an average perc rate of one in./h.

Certain sophisticated perc tests could require a more sophisticated process:

  • The expert may make several holes in the soil of a planned drainage field
  • After drilling the holes, the loose soil is removed and a professional fills each hole with gravel to approximately 2 inches.
  • Pre-soaked soil in order to replicate the saturation conditions of the typical septic system.
  • Twelve inches of water is set in the hole for at most four hours prior to soaking.
  • The technician returns the following day and tests each hole by filling it up with water (usually over the gravel by at six inches).
  • The doctor then takes measurements every 15-30 minutes or so to figure out the rate of percolation.

Although perc tests are easy to perform, test kits for home use are not the best option. What locations are the holes dug where, who dug them, as well as what you should consider when interpreting the results are all important aspects. Investors, prospective homeowners, and developers too need to consult a professional to conduct perc tests whenever they are.

Environmental and health departments in the county usually have experts who will visit the site and conduct a perc testing. Developers or investors might engage independent engineers. There are certain guidelines regarding how often perc tests are required on specific land parcels.

Typically, perc tests should be repeated every 2-5 years when they’re required in the first.

  • Perc Test Laws & Regulations

If you are planning to order a perc test it is important to note that there are various laws or regulations based on the location where the test is conducted. Thus, you must check with your county’s health department to inquire about the local laws and restrictions that could affect the procedure for installing septic tanks or tests using perc.

In particular, many counties require an employee from the health department to be present during the test. This means for both test participants and health department employees be present at the location simultaneously to minimize the timeframe of the testing.

Certain counties may require that the perc test be carried out by a “licensed soil expert” or ask you to select the tester from a pool of licensed people. Additionally, there are regulations in many counties concerning the number of tests that can be completed in a short period of time and how often tests for perc must be conducted to ensure drainage of the soil over the long term.

As mentioned above, the majority of perc tests must be repeated every two to five years. However, the exact duration of time will vary between counties.

  • The perc test cost

The cost of the perc exam can differ significantly, usually based on the municipality or county. The cost of labor for a standard perc test is between $100 to $200 per hour. However, some counties might have specialists who cost a flat rate in the amount of $300 to conduct the entire test.

As you can see, the costs of perc tests will be greatly influenced by the length of time required to finish the test. The test for sites that aren’t developed could take anywhere from one to three hours, however, sites that require replacement of the septic system could require more time. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the most expensive option the cost of perc tests can cost you up to $750 or more.

  • Average Cost for a Perc Test by Land Size

In percolation tests, the greater number of holes dug by the expert will allow him to make more precise estimates of the percolation rate for the soil around it. So, the majority of perc tests need at least 2 holes dug, with approximately 40 feet of space between them.

The larger the area you must examine and the larger the holes that need to be dug. This will increase the cost of labor in the process of conducting the Perc Test.

  • Perc Test Cost by Hole Size

The cost of testing for Perc may depend on the dimensions of the holes to be dug. The majority of test holes will be between two and three feet in depth however some could be at least 6 feet below the surface. Perc testing hole size typically starts at 6 inches but can reach up to 3 feet in diameter.

It is typical for the cost of the test to go up by $100 to $150 per foot of width or depth you put into the hole. For instance, an 8-foot deep hole might cost $200, while an area of 3 feet could cost $300, and so on.

  • Additional Costs and Considerations

Based on the specifics of the land parcel you own, you could face additional charges and issues when you conduct the perc test, such as:

  • Permits are not a necessity, but permits aren’t usually required for percolation tests.
  • The cost of a technician if a certified technician is required by the county in which you reside.
  • Septic regulations and fees for planning.
  • Costs for location. Certain perc tests have to be carried out on slopes or in slippery soil, which could add costs to labor.
  • Testing in the lab could be required to determine the mineral content or drainage variables.
  • Additional testing or additional packages are required to pass the perc test.


  • The best time to do a perc test

Perc tests are most effective at the driest time of the year. This is usually at the closing of summer or the start of winter. This is because the water table underneath the soil is at its lowest, and dry soil tends to absorb liquids more easily. Contrarily when the soil has been frozen or recently taken in a significant amount of meltwater or rain, the percolation rate will be less.

If you are required to complete an arc test during colder weather, make sure to follow the testing guidelines for excavations in cold weather like digging beneath that frontline.

What is a Percolation Test Report?

Percolation test reports are the official report of the soil’s percolation rate. Perc test results are generally required when planning or renovating a modern septic installation. The report is provided to the health department of the county you reside in and is included in the public record.

Perc test reports contain common-sense information such as the date of the test, the technician’s name, the test results, and the results of the test. The majority of reports for perc tests are between 1 and 2 pages in length and are fairly simple to read.

If you are satisfied with your results, you should look for an effective perc rate that is between 1 to 30 minutes per millimeter. This is the optimal percolation rate for a Septic system.

  • Failed Perc Test

However, certain perc tests could find that your soil doesn’t pass the test because it fails to drain water quickly enough or at all. Perc tests can also fail if your soil drains water too fast, particularly in the case of land that is on a steep slope.

A large number of properties with low water tables are an increased chance of passing the test than properties that have higher water tables.

  • Failed Perc Test Alternatives

If the soil on a piece of land that you own is not able to pass an occult test, it doesn’t mean you’re completely out of options. Nor does that mean that the soil is unusable. To begin, you could always request another opinion and take another test or talk with a local health department representative.

They could be able to give you a record of tests that have been conducted previously so that you have an understanding of what the level of water could change over the course of time. If your property was not able to pass the initial test for perc It could be due to the fact that you weren’t doing testing in the correct location.

There is also the possibility of digging holes in another location where the soil’s composition could differ. The areas might be better suited for a brand new or newly revamped septic system. You can also excavate further and think about putting your septic system higher in the soil.

Other options are:

  • The results can be appealed to the local department of health for your county.
  • Installation of a treatment unit in conjunction with your septic tank.
  • Installing a larger septic system than you originally planned.
  • Alternative septic systems can be used, such as grazing fields or mount systems.
  • Connecting your property to the water systems of the municipal system.
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