What is a Land Perk Test? Why is Property/ Land Perk Test Important?

What is a Land Perk Test? Why is Property/ Land Perk Test Important?

What is a Land Perk Test?

A land perk test is a soil test that is used to determine the ability of soil to absorb and filter water. It is a soil test that is used to determine the percolation rate of soil.

The percolation rate is the rate at which water seeps through the soil. This test is used to determine if soil is suitable for a septic system.

The test is also used to identify the presence of pollutants in water.

When you are considering purchasing a piece of land, it is important to know that the land is suitable for the intended use.

A Land Perk Test is an important part of the due diligence process and is used to determine if the land can be used for the purposes you intend.

The test assesses the soil’s ability to absorb and drain water, as well as its ability to support the weight of building structures.

If the land fails the test, it may not be able to be developed and could result in costly repairs.

In order to ensure that a property is in compliance with zoning regulations, many municipalities require a land perk test.

This test is used to determine the quality of the soil on the property and whether a septic system is needed.

The test also helps to identify any potential issues with the soil that could affect the development of the property.

Public sewage systems are an expected aspect of city life. Septic systems, on the other hand, are used in rural regions to dispose of sewage.

A land percolation test, sometimes known as a “perk test,” is one method for determining if a site is suitable for a septic system.

It is necessary to bore into the earth and saturate it with water to determine how much sewage the untested soil can take. Without any kind of effective test, you may end up with leaking sewage in your yard, which is a far worse scenario.

Brief History

The method was invented by English scientist John Smeaton in 1767.After a series of experiments, he concluded that drilled holes were necessary to indicate how thoroughly the soil can be saturated with water.

These tests were conducted as deep as 60 feet in a cave excavated under Holkham Hall, which was being used as a storage area for animal manure. Since it contained solid rock, he concluded that rocks would not impede the flow of sewage through the ground.

Cities have been carrying out public percolation tests since they began digging sewers in the late 19th century. Until recently, they have typically used the Smeaton test in a manner similar to how it is used today.

The Smeaton method involves placing pipes into a hole bored into soil and measuring the amount of water that will pass through the pipe into a storage tank. A consensus on proper procedure for this test currently does not exist.

What to do if a land fails a perc test

If your land fails the perc test, it will likely be due to the accumulation of rocks and boulders in the soil. Your best bet is to leave the area alone.

Large deposits of gravel, shale, or very compacted clay will significantly slow or inhibit septic system absorption. If your land is unsuitable for a septic system, you may opt to connect to the municipal sewer system instead.

However, this does not mean that you have to give up on the property. Sewage-treatment systems for cesspools and portable toilets may be a viable alternative.

Some people choose to install a septic tank at the back of their property in order to protect their home from waste contamination. A functioning septic system will divert solids into the tank and collect the liquid, which is then drained out into an infiltration trench or absorbed by filter strips under the soil.

If your property fails a perc test, you may have little choice other than to abandon the project. However, a properly constructed septic tank will last for decades and may be suitable for certain other types of liquid waste disposal.


A failed perc test can be quite disruptive to your plans to develop a property. It is best to proceed with caution when pursuing a site that has been identified as potentially problematic.

A General Procedure for Conducting a Perk Test

A perc test is usually a measure of the soil’s ability to absorb liquids. Although it stands for percolation, most soil will pass at least some amount of water through it. But by passing more and more extreme amounts, you can get an idea of how much liquid the soil can really handle.

This may be important if you’re hoping to put a home on your property or you simply want to know if what you have is good enough for a septic system.

If your map does have warnings about the quality of soil, consider contacting a local professional for a more in-depth assessment.

The procedure is:

  1. Dig the test holes — Most jurisdictions need the holes to be 4 to 6 inches in diameter and 18 to 36 inches deep. You’ll need at least two holes, but more is preferable. To assess a plot for a prospective drain field, the holes must be spaced more than 50 feet apart.
  1. Prepare the test holes – Using a knife or other pointed object, scrape down the sidewalls of the holes to provide a natural interface for water to soak in. Remove any debris from the hole before filling it with 2 to 6 inches of gravel. To prevent soil from falling down the edges of the hole and into the bottom, line each hole with mesh. To avoid dirt from dropping, some professionals propose installing perforated drainpipe into each hole.
  1. Soak the soil – Fill each hole with water, cover it, and leave it full for 4 hours. After that, you must wait 18 hours before administering the real test. That means you’ll have to wait until the next day, so keep the holes closed overnight.
  2. Carry out the real test – Fill the hole with water to a level 12 inches above the gravel, then timing how long it takes the water to descend to a level 6 inches above the gravel. Some authorities demand you to repeat this test three times on each hole, and even if yours does not, you should do it nonetheless. It produces more consistent outcomes.
  1. Keep track of the results – Keep track of the results in a table with headers for the hole number, the depth of water at the start time, and the depth at the finish time. Each row in the table represents a different reading.

Interpreting the Test Results

You can interpret the results of the test in terms of:

  • Water saturation: If the soil absorbs most of the water
  • Permeability: The ability of water to pass through a soil medium

It might be possible to correlate these three readings in order to develop different types of soil-related tests. However, you have to keep in mind that a given soil sample may look good on paper but still fail in real life.

You must also remember that the results you get may not be the same as what you would have gotten in the past. Soil absorbs water at different rates depending on whether it’s hot or cold outside, and even on your location in the country.

Who Performs a Percolation Test?

The person who performs the test must be a professional. The reason for this is to ensure that the instruments you use for the test are calibrated and in good working condition.

The property owner, a property buyer, a realtor, a septic installation, or even the health department can do a perk test. In any case, the findings were communicated to the health department.

A licensed engineer may, for example, provide these services. In some jurisdictions, the only people who can do perc tests are engineers or registered geologists.

The soil might also be tested by a civil engineer or by a licensed professional from the state’s department of health or a private company that provides these services.

How to cheat a Land Perk Test

Conduct your own perk test. It’s easy to set up a percolation test, and it will probably give you the results you need anyway.

In terms of the actual procedure, the only main difference is that you should dig your holes at least 50 feet apart from each other.

However, it’s not a good idea to fill the holes with water as you would if you were actually testing the soil. Instead, you should dig drainage gratings or open trenches in which to place the gravel.

In most jurisdictions, however, there is no need to set up these individual test holes at all. You can use an instrument that measures the capillarity of soil or water absorption instead.

Then run your tests over the course of a few days at different times of day, since soil will absorb water differently depending on environmental conditions.

The most difficult part of this is that you’ll have to find a location that is suitable for your purpose. The owner of the property where you want to build your house might be quite reluctant to allow you to test his or her land, considering the risks involved.

So, consider taking a look at an abandoned farm or a rural area where there are no houses around.

Perk Test before buying Land

If you’re looking to buy land, then you should always have it perked first. You can take a test while a licensed professional is on the premises or ask to observe their testing and take notes.

You should also make sure that you’ve got an agreement with the owner of the land that is binding on both parties. If there’s nothing in writing, your lack of legal rights might prevent you from getting a decent price for your property later on or even force you to pay for damages.

Some jurisdictions require you to get the consent of the owner before you start. Some other laws require you to end the test as soon as a problem is identified.

The main reason for this is that if there’s something wrong with your land, it can interfere with any plans or development that you might have in mind. You might consider getting permission from the landowner before taking a test.

However, be aware that if you’re planning to build over your property, there may be some serious restrictions on how and where you can do so.

The Bottom Line

A percolation test is an extremely useful method for testing soil. It’s useful in the real world, not just in the lab. It can be done quickly and without any special equipment. You can easily find a good professional to do it for you.

So, if you’re planning to buy land or build your house, then make sure you perc test first. Anything else would be considered irresponsible (and illegal).

A good Perk Test result

A good test result can be considered one that is over 30 minutes. However, the test is only as good as the instrument you use for it. If you don’t have access to the most accurate equipment, you should not rely on your own test results completely.

You should also ask for a professional’s interpretation of your data if there’s any question as to what it might mean.

A well-designed facility will be able to provide you with a professional opinion on your results. Unfortunately, there are some states – NC being one of them – that do not allow you to interpret the results yourself.

Keep in mind that building codes and ordinances may have stricter requirements than those set by your state. This can make paying for a professional government-licensed engineer more likely.

So, in summary: Do A Percolation Test First!

You can never be too paranoid about things like this, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry! Take the time to do an in-depth and professional perk test first.

Purpose of a Land Perk Test

A perk test is used to determine the quality of soil for a specific site. It is done by digging holes and filling them with water. The time it takes for the water to drain out is measured and compared with soil standards.

The main purpose of conducting a Perc Test of Soil is to ensure that the land would be able to properly absorb liquid waste, or sewage, which can cause serious problems if not dealt with properly.

The Perk Test is done in order to find out the rate at which soil can absorb water, or in other words, how quickly water penetrates into the soil. If the water absorbs too quickly, there is a risk that the land will be unable to hold and treat liquid waste, which could lead to contamination of surrounding environments.

Soil Perc Test Soil Percolation Values

If your soils have low perc test results, then they might not be able to support a structure such as a building. The result of the perc test will indicate the soil’s absorption rate and you may have to increase the size of your septic system to support your house.

For example:

A percolation rate of less than 3 minutes and 36 seconds is considered poor for residential purposes; thus, these types of soils are usually not used for houses or other structures. For example, in Germany, you will be required to have a 10-minute soil perc test before being allowed to build on it.

In Florida, anything below 0.5 inches per hour is considered unusable. Soils can have a wide variety of perc test results, while some may last only 7 minutes and others may last over 5 hours!

Land with a slow percolation rate will obviously not be suitable for building a house or any other structures that require water drainage.

If you have land with poor percolation rates, then you might have to build a bigger septic drain field able to hold the additional sewage if you want to build on it.

Land Percolation Test

A well-designed and professionally conducted percolation test can help a lot. It will be able to determine the drainage rate of your soil, which is important because it will give you a clue as to how quickly water can be drained out of your land.

If you are going to sell or buy land, you should consider having a percolation test done beforehand.

Land that is low in perc test results can significantly lower the value of the property and may require a new drain field and other types of modifications in order to support your house and septic system properly.

Even if you are going to build just a small shed or some type of structure, you should get the percolation test done first. This is simply because the soil acts as a natural water filter and needs to be studied carefully before being used for larger purposes like building houses or other types of structures.

Percolation Test Cost

The cost of a percolation test usually varies depending on several factors. Most of the time it is determined by the size of the land. If you are buying a small piece of land, then you can expect to pay less for a percolation test than for larger parcels of land.

You should also consider getting a percolation test done if you live in areas where surface water cannot drain properly. In these cases, a percolation test is required before being allowed to build on your property.

Doing a percolation test can help you avoid future problems, so its cost will almost always be worth it. It is certainly more convenient and cheaper to identify the problem now than to wait until your house starts flooding and then try to find out what’s wrong.

If you are planning on putting up a house or some other structure, then you must make sure that your land can handle the wastewater.

This is why doing a perk test for soil before building anything on it is necessary.

If you are planning on building a house, then you should consider doing a percolation test first. This is simply because soil acts as the natural filter for water, and if it cannot handle the liquid waste well, it could lead to serious issues.

Depending on the size of your land and its perc test results, then building a house or any other kind of structure on such land could be very challenging or even impossible. However, in most cases, it is possible to modify the soil and increase its percolation rates.

Alternative septic systems for land that won’t perk

Not all types of land are able to percolate as efficiently as others. This is why you may need to look for other options if you need to build a house on it.

Some types of materials can help increase the speed at which water will be drained out of your soil, such as peat moss, sand, gravel and even cement percolation blankets.

These options can sometimes be more expensive than some of the other materials.

However, they will often last longer and are able to support a bigger flow of water that other types of materials.

For example:

Sand is especially great for use in septic systems on land where very little rainfall occurs, as it is rich in clay which causes less soil erosion that causes problems later on.

Each of these options has its own pros and cons and it will depend on your needs whether you should choose any type of material or not.

Land with poor drainage rates can also be repaired using trench-less systems.

This type of system is able to repair certain types of soil that cannot be fixed with conventional septic systems.

Trench less septic systems are often more expensive, but in cases where you want to build a large house or other types of structures, this type of system may be the best option for you.

For example:

These systems are especially helpful in areas where there are heavy rains and the soil is unable to drain properly.


What is a Land Perk Test?

A land perk test is a type of septic test in which soil is tested to determine its percolation rates.

What is Percolation?

Percolation occurs when water slowly penetrates the soil. It affects how well a drain field will work and how quickly wastewater can be drained out of your property.

How Long Does It Take for Land to Perk?

Usually, it takes a while before land perks. This process can range from several weeks to a few months.

What is a Perc Test?

A perc test is a type of septic system test in which soil is analyzed to determine how effective it will be at being used for a septic system. It measures how thorough the soil will be at draining water out of an area.

Why should you buy and install a new septic system?

This is a very common question, especially if you are planning on moving to another house or apartment. The simple answer is because it will help to keep your home healthy and also help to prevent flooding.

Where can I buy a septic system?

There are many different companies that sell septic systems, but the best place to look for one is on the internet.

How do you get land to perk?

If you want to buy land, then you should consider doing a percolation test first. This will allow you to know what problems the soil may have and whether it is possible to build on it or not.

How do I know if my land will perk?

In most jurisdictions, a perc test is done when a county health department representative meets with the property owner and/or a licensed excavator to drill a hole and test the drainage rate of the soil on-site (they literally pour water in a hole and time how long it takes to drain through).

Is a perc test the same as a soil test?

No, a perc test is not the same as a soil test. A soil test is done on-site, while a percolation test is done at a laboratory.

Is there an easy way to determine what type of soil I have?

If you want to know exactly what type of soil you have, then you should do the right number of tests to find that out.

However, it is possible to establish some general guidelines or rules of thumb for different types of soils.

The first thing that you should consider is the soil’s appearance and what type of rocks and other material you can find in it.

How do I increase my land’s percolation rate?

There are many different types of sludge that can be used to increase your land’s percolation rate, such as sand, gravel, peat moss and cement perc blankets.

You can also dig open trenches on your land to create a deeper layer of topsoil with better drainage rates.

How do you know if my land is wet?

You should always check your land if you think that it is wet or not.

Obviously, testing can help in this case, but there are several other ways that you can check to see if your land is wet.

For example:

If you want to buy a home on a certain property, then you may need to know how much percolation your soil has before you make the purchase.

This is because there are some houses that cannot be built on certain types of land.

Is there a way to know if my land will drain properly?

Yes, in most cases you can determine what type of soil your land has using on-site perc tests. But in the future, you can always hire a contractor to do perc tests for you.

You may also want to consider doing a soil test yourself especially if you are planning on building something new or just don’t know much about certain types of dirt.

How is a perk test done?

A perk test is a soil test that is used to determine the suitability of a site for a septic system. The test is used to determine the soil’s permeability, which is the ability of the soil to allow water to pass through it.

The test is also used to determine the soil’s porosity, which is the percentage of the soil that is made up of void spaces.

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