The perc test is among the requirements for any landowner in making sure of a piece of land’s suitability for development by just about every jurisdiction around the United States. It is a test that may seem irrelevant at first glance; but failing it could mean the land’s worth may diminish.
However, failing the perc test doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. It’s just a matter of putting in a little more patience and effort to make the original plan work.
What is the Perc Test and Why is it Important?
First, let us try to understand what perc testing is and what makes it so important.
Perc test (or more formally known as percolation test) is done to study and analyze the rate to which the soil can absorb water, particularly effluent or wastewater. If the land is suitable enough, then a conventional septic system can then be installed. In simple words, the test is done to know how much crap the soil can take.
Cost Freak has stated that the average cost of perc testing can be around $450 to $2,500 depending on the methods used. The test procedures on perc testing are generally the same in every jurisdiction. However, it is best you consult your local health department as there are different requirements in every location such as who can do the test, the number of holes to be dug, the measurements, and the test schedules.
Perc test plays a significant role in the development of any land property. Aside from the other factors such as the land’s features (Land Survey) and other health restrictions (Environmental Impact Assessment), the result of perc test can make or break your plans – and your bank.
Alternative Engineered Septic System
The local health department in each jurisdiction supervises the process and procedures as well as the analyzation of the result of each perc test. If the land fails perc testing, the health department may then propose an alternative engineered septic system.
Unlike the conventional septic system, the alternative engineered septic system can add more process, modification, and costs to you. However, it might just be your only chance of not bidding adieu to your land’s original purpose.
The type of the alternative engineered septic system may depend on the recommendation of the health department and the contractors. It’s because every land shows different features based on the geography and the location itself. For this reason, you might get confused as to what type of engineered system is practical, especially on your budget.
- Mound Systems
Depending on the composition and physical appearance of the land, the “mound” system is typically the first choice of engineers for an alternative option as it works pretty much the same as the conventional type.
The mound system runs the effluent to a series of septic tanks and a pump chamber for treatment. The solid wastes will be filtered in the dosing chamber from the water making it safe enough to be dispersed on the soil underneath the mound.
- Other Alternative Systems
While there are a lot more engineered septic system that can be installed on your land, the same concept applies: pump the wastewater and/or effluent by means of a pumping chamber, or with good old gravity, filter it through a series of pipes and septic tanks, and the water should be suitable enough to be distributed to the soil.
Sand Filter – this involves a concrete box wherein effluent flows (by means of pumping
through a device or just plain gravity) in a series of PVC or concrete watertight pipes. The effluent passes through special sand where it will be filtered before being distributed to the leach field.
Low Pressure Dosing (LPD) Septic System – this system is more of a direct way of water treatment as the LPD forcefully pumps effluent to the leach field through a septic tank and through a sequence of filtering devices. Among all of the engineered septic systems, this is considered as practical and less expensive.
Plastic Chamber or Infiltrator System – this uses perforated plastic pipes laid in a gravel bed, filtering the effluent in the process before being distributed to the leach field. This system is also considered one of the most practical alternative septic systems as it can be suitable for small building sites.
Aerobic Treatment System – ATS is a process that involves the introduction of aerobic bacteria to the effluent for pre-treatment. Aerobic treatment system allows the effluent to be treated and sterilized to produce better and more suitable water for irrigation.
Drip distribution or Irrigation – this system makes the effluent flow through a filtering device to produce water with better quality which is then distributed through drip tubes to the leach field or a particular area, like a lawn for example.
Constructed wetlands – Constructed wetland septic system allows the use of nature to treat the wastewater thru a man-made medium. This type of septic system can be suitable for any soil type
making it an ideal alternative, especially for nature lovers.
When it comes to profitability, perc testing is one of the most important tests that will ensure the buildability of your land. Proving the land as buildable can increase the potential of its price to appreciate, regardless of your plans for it someday. However, the failed result of the perc test should not mean the land lost all its appeal.
No matter what the result is, the overall potential of any land depends on its location. No matter how much effort you put into it, if it’s not going to work, it just won’t.
It may be easier to work with a land that has passed the perc testing and, it may seem complicated for those that have not. However, the work and process shouldn’t be as complicated as you might think.
Working with the right people can be a turning point of any challenges you may face for your land. Any of the alternatives can vary in prices depending on the factors presented above. Working with the team that you can trust can give you the assurance of quality service and overall peace of mind.
Do more research and talk to people with experience, especially in perc testing and the consequences of its failed result. Do not let the limitations of your knowledge keep you from reaching your goal. Buying land is a terrific investment, and you’ve made a great decision. So to keep you motivated and inspired, get information from experts. That should keep you going.
This guest post was written by Alison Jean Henry.