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Middleburg VA Perc Test: The Importance of Well-Draining Soil for Gardening and Septic Systems

Perc Test

Having trouble understanding why you need a perc test before you build in Middleburg VA? The perc test is perhaps easier to understand if you think of it terms of gardening. Nearly every guide that is written on the subject of gardening talks about the importance of planting in “well-draining” soil. This is also important for an effective drain field.

The important thing in both cases is that you don’t want the water to drain too quickly and you don’t want it to drain too slowly. In gardening, plant roots will get parched if water drains too quickly and roots may rot if water drains too slowly. When it comes to drain field conditions, water that drains too slowly or too quickly can mean that septic tank effluent isn’t being treated so that bacteria doesn’t carry and contaminate ground and surface waters.

Whether you are trying to understand the rate of drainage for planting a flower bed or for creating a drain field in Middleburg VA, there is a perc test – often called a perk test in gardening. Both “perc” and “perk” stand for percolation test, which is a test to determine a soil’s rate of absorption.

The steps are similar, but when conducting a perc test for the suitability of a building a septic system with a drain field, you’ll want to engage an expert in septic systems and perc testing to make sure that the process and measurements are precise. The local health department has high expectations for this testing because the environmental implications of building a septic system.

In the simplest terms, to test absorption the process is to: 1) dig several holes in the area in question; 2) fill the holes with water and let them sit overnight for a more accurate reading; 3) refill the hole the next day, and 4) measure the water levels at equal intervals (such as 30 minutes to an hour).

Soil perc tests are measured in minutes per inch (MPI). To get the MPI, divide the time (in minutes) by the water drop level (in inches). For example, a rate of 2 inches per hour would correspond to a rate of 30 MPI (60 minutes ÷ 2 inches = 30 MPI). A reading of 1-3 inches per hour is good for gardening. Local health codes and regulations will determine what Middleburg VA perc test results are needed to build a septic system.

SES Company


  • Virginia Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
  • National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
  • Water Environment Federation
  • Virginia Association of Counties
  • Northern Virginia Building Industry Association
  • Design Build Institute of America
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Dulles Area Realtors Association
  • Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce

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Responsible Management Entity

SES is one of only three businesses to be licensed as a Responsible Management Entity. Loudoun County Virginia was the first in the Nation to establish requirements for an RME based on EPA recommendations. SES manages several communities required to have an RME.

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  • Licensed Conventional & Alternative Onsite Soil Evaluators (AOSE)
  • Licensed Conventional and Alternative Onsite Sewage System Operators
  • Licensed Conventional and Alternative Onsite Sewage System Installers
  • NSF Certified Septic System Inspectors
  • Virginia Class A Contractors License
  • Environmental, Monitoring Well and SDS Endorsements
  • Licensed Sewage Handler
  • Licensed Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators
  • Licensed Water System Operators

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