Q: Can you tell me the best way to find a professional to do a perc test? Who is allowed to perform the test? — R. M.
A: Before proceeding, check with your local jurisdiction (city/town/county) about the requirements for performing a perc test in your area:
- Who can perform the test?
- What time of year is testing allowed?
- How many test holes are required?
- What specific procedures must be followed?
- What documentation is needed?
- Is a deep-hole test (to view soil profiles) also required?
Often the local health department or environmental department is in charge of perc testing. If you’re not sure, contact the town’s department of building inspection and they can point you in the right direction. They might also be able to provide you with a list of names of certified testers.
Depending on local regulations, soil testers might be licensed septic system designers, soil engineers, or a soil testing company. In some areas, the test must be performed or witnessed by a government agent.
Most towns have at least a few licensed septic system designers who are well acquainted with local soil types, septic system regulations, and the people who enforce them. A seasoned professional in the local area is in the best position to guide you through the testing and approval process. There may be a little wiggle room.
Approval can range from from simple and straightforward if all goes well to very complex if your site does not qualify for a conventional system. The test results also guide the sizing of the drain field.
A site can fail if the soil absorbs water too slowly (or less commonly, too quickly) or if the seasonal water table is too high. There must also be adequate clearance to ledge, hardpan, or other impermeable soil. If the site does not qualify for a conventional septic system, it may still be possible to install an alternative system.
— Steve Bliss, Editor, BuildingAdvisor.com
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