A percolation test should not be carried out during abnormal weather conditions and if done in summer, then the times should be increased by 30% to 50%, depending on the recent weather.
The percolation test method
- Excavate a hole 300mm (12in) square and 300mm (12in) below the proposed outlet from the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
- Dig the test hole vertically to the appropriate depth. Remove all loose debris.
- Mark the hole 75mm (3in) from the bottom and 75mm (3in) from the top by pushing 6 inch nails into the sides of the of the percolation test hole.
- Fill the test hole with water to a depth of at least 300mm (12in). Allow to seep away overnight.
- Next day, refill the test section with water to a depth at least 300mm (12in). Observe the time, in seconds, for the water to seep away from 75% full to 25% full.
- Divide this time by 150mm (6in), (i.e. 50% of the 300mm (12in) depth). The answer gives the average time in seconds (V) required for the water to drop 1mm.
- Carry out the test at least 3 times, with at least 2 trial holes. The average figure from the tests should be taken.
Drainage field soak away disposal should only be used when percolation tests indicate average values of V of between 15 and 100 and the preliminary site assessment report and trial hole tests have been favourable. A percolation test is deemed to have failed if the results are less than 12 or more than 100.
This minimum value ensures that untreated effluent cannot percolate too rapidly into ground water. Where V is outside these limits effective disposal is unlikely to take place in a soak away drainage field.
* Some Councils insist that percolation tests are carried out by 'qualified persons' and do not accept your own test results. You may be required to contact a contractor to carry out the percolation test. Please check with your Local Authority