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Old 01-17-2009, 05:14 PM
crunchyconmama crunchyconmama is offline
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Default The land doesn't perk! Can anything be done?



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Okay, DH and I just looked at an 18 acre parcel of land for a good price (and I"m always suspicious of a good price -- what's wrong with it?). Thankfully, the guy that farms it drove up to see what we were up to. We told him that we might be interested in buying the land and building a house on it. He said that the land doesn't perk. BUT there was a house on it before and it was torn down. I also wonder how true it is that the land doesn't perk b/c that guy would probably NOT want the land sold to someone who is going to farm it themselves. And, there is a house right across the street so I wonder again how true it is that the land doesn't perk.

ANYWAY, if it is true that the land doesn't perk, can we somehow get around that problem? Also, is the land not being able to perk just a problem for the septic system or are there other problems that could arise from the land not perking?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Old 01-17-2009, 05:19 PM
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City girl asks this question.... what does it mean if the land doesn't perk?
Old 01-17-2009, 05:30 PM
adobewalls adobewalls is offline
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Perculation of water through the soil.

Evidently its a clayey soil.

To size and put in a septic tank and its associate drain field you need to know how fast the soil will take the water. Too fast (sandy soils) and you risk contamination of surrounding area with sewage. Too slow (clayey, silty soils), and your drain field doesn't clear and your septic system stops up. Niether are good.

Now it has been a long time ago since I had much to do with septic systems, so someone please correct me if I am wrong. If I remember correctly, the slower the perculation rate, the more and longer drain lines you have to put in - but I may not remember correctly.
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:31 PM
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Have a perk test done. What that does, bretandteri, is to determine how fast water drains through the soil. Soil can drain too well, such that you have to spend more money putting in a septic system with a pump, or not at all, meaning you're sitting on a clay mine. : )
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:34 PM
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If it doesnt perk, you can put in a lagoon or a arobic system
Old 01-17-2009, 05:39 PM
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Here if you can't pass a perk test you have to get a tank storeage for your waste , which has to be pumped and hauled on a regular basis.
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:42 PM
crunchyconmama crunchyconmama is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bretandteri View Post
City girl asks this question.... what does it mean if the land doesn't perk?
Don't feel bad -- neither DH nor I knew what in the world the guy was talking about when he told us. We had to call my FIL. DH and I are both born and raised in the city but we desperately want to be country folk.
Old 01-17-2009, 05:46 PM
Redrooster Redrooster is offline
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Ok just because a land does not perk does not mean you cannot build there. There are a few things you can do. You may be able to dig a drainage ditch around the property to remove excess water. Sometimes this helps but can be expensive to have the ditch dug. Expect to pay somewhere in the area of $500 and up per day for a backhoe to do the work. You can also install an above ground or partial above ground septic tank with a pump installed you are looking at $5000+- for everything. The house lot can also be raised by hauling in earth. If it were me I would call a local building contractor and see what he thinks is the best route.
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:54 PM
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I can't remember exactly where I read it but, there is a Reader's Digest book dealing with home care and repair that gives instruction on how to do a perc test. Basically, you dig a hole some shallow depth, 2 feet I think, pour water in it and time how fast the water drops 1 foot of depth.
I don't know what your county requires for perc rate but, you can find out and check it yourself and know if the land will perc for a septic system.
Old 01-17-2009, 05:59 PM
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Default Everything you wanted to know about Perc... but were afraid to ask

The percolation test is designed to determine the suitability of a site for a subsurface private sewage disposal system (i.e. septic system). More specifically, a percolation test measures the ability of the soil to absorb liquid. Septic system designers use the results of percolation tests to properly construct septic systems.

The percolation tests are designed to simulate conditions in a septic system. Most septic fields consist of a series of trenches about two feet deep. Therefore, the percolation test holes are dug to a depth of two feet. In addition, since the soil in a typical septic field is wet all the time, it is necessary to duplicate that condition by prolonged soaking of the test holes. This process is called the "presoak".

The question is, Why did it fail? Because of high water table? In sandy soil, the water should have disappeared in a flash.

Another option, if the soil is indeed impervious, would be to excavate the drainage field area, and fill it with porous material. Water table and soil quality problems are most frequently corrected by adding fill to the affected area. Filling a lot often requires an excavation and fill permit from the local zoning and drainage jurisdiction.

In Minnesota they have areas with a lot of thick hard clay. Obviously not ideal for septic systems so a lot of homeowners go with what's called a "mound" system. Basically it's a big hump on top of the ground that is your septic system. The point behind it is to distribute the sewage over a greater square footage, thus requiring less perc per square foot.

The pure flow system by Bord na mona could be a solution. It is a above ground system with two tanks which pump the effluent into above ground pods filled with 7 layers of peat. The effluent leaving the bottom of the pods is very clean and this system may get you where you want to be try http://www.puraflo.tv .

There are ways to install a septic system in almost any condition.Talk to a good civil engineer in your area, who should be able to outline your options.

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Old 01-17-2009, 06:03 PM
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Our house sits on four acres of granite with just a few patches of topsoil here and there. This is typical of the coast of Maine and its islands. The "soil scientist" was pretty lenient with his test results because he knew that an area could be built up artificially where a leach field would work. Seven years later we have had no trouble at all. We get the 1500 gallon septic tank pumped every three years. Dumping a bowl of warm water with active dry yeast and sugar down your sink drain will help jump start the bacteria that break down your waste. A perk test is just for septic purposes.
Old 01-17-2009, 06:10 PM
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Contact the county health department, they will do a Soil evaluation and or perc test. If they don't do either, they will give you a list of contractors that do this kind of work. You may also have laws that don't allow do it yourselfers to do any of the work. For the install job get at least 3 bids from 3 different contractors, the price will vary. Sometimes you can get a package deal on all excavating done, septic, water, foundation excavating.
Old 01-17-2009, 06:19 PM
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Our land barely perks. With alternating sandstone and clay, we can have some remarkably soupy conditions up here. More importantly, our homestead sits on two ridges and serves as the absolute headwater for three major rivers, two of which are national treasures in some peoples eyes. So, we live in a land of zero septic.

No big deal. We still have flush toilets, and we're responsible land stewards. We have a sunmar WCM (water closet mulstrum) composting toilet. A regular RV toilet is in our bathroom, and with each flush, we had 1/4 cup of peat moss. Beneath the house is white plastic box, the actual WCM. Once a week, I crank a handle on the front of the unit. Every 4-6 weeks, I empty the hopper into a humanure compost bin. When the bin is full, I seal and date it, and a year later, it gets carted out to the redwoods (on our property) to make some big trees very happy. By that time, it should all have the consistancy I peatmoss and be free of human pathogens. Lots of testamonials, but since I just got ours working a week ago, I really can't speak from personal experience. So far, so good.

I will also say that by addin gypsum, manure, and peat to a garden bed built on a one foot deep tilled area, we have amazing moisture retention in our garden. So no-perc has it's perks.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:34 PM
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I would talk to the person selling the property. See if they have had it perk tested in the past.

I know where I live it is common for a seller to have perk test done showing where a drain field can be placed. This is a way of increasing the value of the property for sale.

The county should have record of any approved perk sites that have been dug in the past.

If the price for the property is to good to be true it may be because it doesn't perk like the farmer said.
Old 01-17-2009, 06:42 PM
Ramona M. Faunce Ramona M. Faunce is offline
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If the land doesn't perk, there was a perk test already done and recorded with the county. Check to see what it says and how long ago it was done.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:00 PM
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There are alternatives to standard septic systems. The problems is not the solids, but the liquid. Get a perk test. Find an engineer or company that specializes in alternative septic systems. Before you buy. Make your offer contingent on being able to install a suitable septic system.

A geotechnical engineer can evaluate the future uses of the land. Most of the time, when or if city sewer comes available, the land is suitable for development. It would be nice to be able to cash in in the future or cash out, in the future.
Old 01-17-2009, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kajunman1 View Post
There are alternatives to standard septic systems...
There are technology remedies and alternatives to land that does not perk well.

The real bug-a-boo, though, is the politics of the community health department. In some locales putting in a tank that's pumped regularly is an option, in other communities that is not an approved/allowed option. In some communities you can keep doing perk tests all over the 18 acres until you find a hole where it will pass the test, in other towns you get one shot per house lot (implying you have to have the parcel surveyed into house lots). A local real estate agent should know his/her way around the town hall and know what's allowed or not AND, more importantly WHO you need to talk to. Keep in mind, just because there are viable options does not mean the townies will let you implement them...

Allan
Old 01-17-2009, 08:10 PM
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Perc tests are rarely performed anymore; instead the septic desiner takes "core" samples of the soil profile; typically they are looking for loam or sandy loam in the first 15 to 18 inches.

There are "alternatives" to a traditional leaching feild like concrete chambers, infiltrators and geotubes.
Old 01-17-2009, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchyconmama View Post
Don't feel bad -- neither DH nor I knew what in the world the guy was talking about when he told us. We had to call my FIL. DH and I are both born and raised in the city but we desperately want to be country folk.
I feel the same. Never thought the day would come that I was excited to get my worm bin or adding chickens and rabbits to my backyard. Now, I am find myself reading all that I can about country life. It makes me happy and feel in control. Good luck to you in your property search!
Old 01-17-2009, 08:53 PM
crunchyconmama crunchyconmama is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bretandteri View Post
I feel the same. Never thought the day would come that I was excited to get my worm bin or adding chickens and rabbits to my backyard. Now, I am find myself reading all that I can about country life. It makes me happy and feel in control. Good luck to you in your property search!
We have rabbits and chickens, too (even while we are still in the city)! AND I read every day about farming and self-sufficiency. I'm reading John Seymour's The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it. Plus two other books on gardening, companion gardening, crop rotation, etc.
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