Homeseptic septic tank

Percolation tests for Septic Tank and Sewage Treatment Plant systems

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What is a percolation test?

A percolation test for a sewage treatment plant or septic tank is a test to see how well the area where you intend to discharge your effluent drains. This is carried out at the depth you intend to discharge.

Why do you need to do one?

You need to carry out a percolation test to see if an installation is feasible and to inform its design. If you do not carry out a percolation test and discharge to the ground then it is likely your system will not work.

The percolation test shows how quickly if at all, the liquid can drain away at the depth and the area where you will construct your drainage field. So if the effluent cannot drain away as quickly as you are putting it in then the system will back up and fail.

How to set up a percolation test?

There is literally so much rubbish on the internet about the test should be carried out. We carry out our tests in line with Building regulations 2010 Part H2, the instruction is very clear, I personally cannot understand why there is so much confusion. 

Firstly you need to know the depth at which your effluent will discharge. In systems fed by gravity, this will be the depth at which the pipe is before your connection to the proposed drainage field. If you have a pumped outlet it will be the depth you intend to pump to.

Again the depth piece causes much confusion. If you have a septic tank you need to create a secondary treatment area. Building regulations 2010 H2 section 1.39 stipulate that Drainage fields or mounds should be constructed to ensure aerobic contact between the liquid effluent and the subsoil.  My view is that this should be in the top 750mm; speak to your building control advisor. Therefore your discharge cannot be deeper than 750mm; if the outlet from your tank is lower you will need to pump it up to the right height. If you do not ensure aerobic contact then your soakaway will block and fail quickly.

If you have a Sewage Treatment Plant then you do not need a secondary treatment area and the drainage field can be constructed at the natural depth of the outlet. Please see our guide on Septic tanks vs Sewage Treatment Plants if you are confused.

Okay so dig a square 1m x 1m and then dig down until you reach the required depth. If you need to go down further than 1m get a professional to do it. Once at that depth dig another hole 300mm x 300mm x 300mm, this is your test zone. Be careful and take steps so you do not bury yourself if there is a cave-in. You need two test holes so repeat.

How to undertake a percolation test?

Okay so fill up your 300mm test hole and go to bed, it has been a hard day you deserve it! Also, section 1.35 on the building regulations requires you to do this.

Okay, so you bounce out of bed the next day with the excitement of undertaking the test. Put a marker in the test hole 75mm from the top and another 75mm from the bottom. Fill the test hole again and wait. Once the water hits the first marker start your stopwatch when it hits the second stop the timer. Repeat this 3 times in both holes.  

Just to note section 1.37 of the Building regulations say that the test should not be carried out during abnormal weather conditions.

What to do with the results of the percolation test?

Okay, so you will have 6 results, two holes with three tests in each. Add up all of the timings and then divide by 6 to give you the average. Then divide your average by 150, this gives you the average time in seconds for the water to drop 1mm the Vp. A Vp of between 12 and 100 is seen as favorable.

Now you have your Vp you can firstly see if a drainage field is viable and if so how big it needs to be. We will cover this in another article.

Like I said there is so much conflicting information on all things home septic. The regulation is confusing and contradictory but carrying out a percolation test is very clear. Please read it for yourself here.

Our Core Services: The Sewage Treatment expert Installers

On the 1st January 2020, all Septic Tanks that discharge to a Stream, Watercourse or Drainage Ditch will become illegal and will require replacing with a Sewage Treatment Plant. Please see here for more details.

    review rating 5  We made some new friends We recently moved to the New Forest and didn’t check our tank before we moved in. Needless to say, it was in really poor condition. We had a few people round to look at it when we met Dave and James we asked them to install the new tank as soon as we could. You could just tell that they knew what they were about and the quote was really competitive. Also, they were local. It was really nice having them and sharing a couple of cold beers with them at the end of the day.

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    review rating 5  An excellent installation. Dave and the team were fantastic!

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    review rating 5  Really pleased with the whole experience with Homeseptic and the team. Working with Andy at the quotation stage, which was very competitive and Dave & James on site, who where very courteous and knowledgeable and worked with us at every stage of the installation. Weather was not great so thanks to James who gave up his Sunday to work on site to catch up. The area was left tidy and fences reinstated. We are now the proud owners of a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant. I cannot recommend Homeseptic enough and anyone considering a sewage treatment plant or similar should absolutely give them a call.

    thumb Mark T

Expert wastewater treatment engineers who specialise in Septic Tank and Soakaway replacements as well as Sewage Treatment Installations. We are based in the New Forest, Hampshire but operate across the South Coast as well as Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Sussex, Surrey, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.

The Home of Septic tank and private drainage system solutions. 

Based in the New Forest, Hampshire on the border with Dorset and Wiltshire we operate an expert team of off-mains drainage specialists. This encompasses Septic Tank, Soakaway and drainage system problems, installations, blockages, and servicing. In addition, any issues relating to cesspits and sewage treatment plants.

Homeseptic offers high quality, professional advice, repairs and installation for all aspects of effluent cleansing and disposal across the south of England. Whether you’re looking for septic tank installation, sewerage treatment plants or systems, piping or soakaway solutions, Homeseptic employs only the most competent engineers in the drainage and treatment industry and knows exactly which solutions suit each property.

We only install and offer quality systems we believe in, from suppliers we know and trust.

New Forest Philosophy

As we have said Homeseptic is based in the New Forest. A great location in between the cities of Southampton, Salisbury and Bournemouth. We are a group of good friends who grew up together in the area.  Individually we all have grown tired of the way other Drainage firms are run. As a result, this is why we set up Homeseptic.

We want to actually put the customer first and turn up to do a great job that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the market, with most companies pressuring their workers to sell unnecessary works on a visit. Due to this, we offer upfront quotations with any variations discussed before we start work.

We are honest hard working professionals, which we hope you will agree with. As a result, it will certainly not turn up in flash sales vehicles and give you a load of chat and then do a terrible job. Our team will come with the job in mind and the aim of giving you the best value we can in order to facilitate a quality installation. 

We cover all of Hampshire, West Sussex, Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire. Please get in touch and see what you think.

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How to undertake a percolation test for Septic Tank and Sewage Treatment Plant systems
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Description of how to undertake a percolation test
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