What is a Percolation Test and Why Should You Even Care?

If you’re buying rural land, you probably won’t have access to a sewer line. This means that you need to install a septic system in order to build a home on the property. A percolation test, also known as a “perc test,” “perc,” or “soil test”, is used to determine whether your land is suitable for the installation of a septic system. It measures the rate at which water moves through soil and helps determine if the soil on your land can absorb wastewater at a rate that would support a septic system.

This is a BIG deal in North Carolina!

Soil types vary greatly here in NC and it is not uncommon to own a piece of land with unsuitable soils– meaning the soil cannot sufficiently absorb waste and cannot support a septic system. If your land does not have suitable soils then you cannot build a home! The permeability and depths affect the feasibility of each soil type supporting a conventional septic system. On top of that, counties are enforcing stricter requirements. For instance- some soils deemed suitable in Granville County 15 years ago no longer pass permit requirements.

So What Do You Do?

Before you buy a rural property, make sure you complete a soil test. A soil test in NC is completed by a licensed soil scientist who performs on site evaluations that involve creating hand auger borings of soil at various locations. The soil scientist is able to identify soil types and determine which areas of a property are most likely to support a septic system. They can complete the tests on one or multiple sites and let you know not only if the soils could support a septic system, but also how large of a system (ie support for 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom home).

If you’re selling a property, you can make the sales process easier by getting a soil test before marketing your property. There is high demand for soil scientists, and we’ve seen it take 2 months or more to get a soil scientists out to a property.  Avoid slowing down the sale of your property by getting a soil test ahead of time.

Hopefully this helps demystify the “percolation test”.



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