How do I know where my septic system is?
You may request a copy of your permit from Environmental Services (ES) by calling 919-856-7400 and providing property and owner information. If the structure is old, it may be difficult to locate the permit, and information contained on the permit may be limited. You may get a rough idea of the tank location by looking under the house to see where the building sewer is located. The actual disposal field may sometimes be evidenced by greener grass growth. You may also contact a private home inspector, installer, wastewater system operator or wastewater consultant.
Can Wake County tell me if my land perks?
No, not without making an application for a permit to have ES conduct of a site evaluation. You can contact a private North Carolina Licensed Soil Scientist for a preliminary, nonbinding evaluation of your land. Note that this does not guarantee nor replace the permit required from ES.
Does Wake County offer septic inspections for home sales?
No, Wake County does not provide this service. You may contact a Certified Wastewater System Inspector who performs such inspections.
Who can I get to install my septic system?
The State of North Carolina requires that a Certified Septic Installer be utilized to install your septic system.
What are the general distances (setbacks) from structures, wells, drains, etc.?
  • Pools: 15 feet from shell
  • Deck: 5 feet
  • Basement: 15 feet
  • Foundation without a drain: 5 feet
  • Foundation with a drain:
    • Uphill from the drainline: 10 feet
    • Side slope to the drainline: 15 feet
    • Downhill from drainline: 25 feet
  • Wells: 100 feet (50 feet for repair)
  • Ponds: 50 feet
  • Embankments or cuts 2 feet deep or greater: 15 feet
  • Property line: 10 feet
  • List of State Setbacks
  • List of County Setbacks


How and where do I apply for a septic permit in Wake County?

All applications come to the 1st floor of the Wake County Office Building (WCOB). Wake County Jurisdiction starts at the Wake County PDI counter, and they will forward the application to Wake County Environmental Services (ES). All other jurisdictions start at the ES counter. The application and site plan are then faxed to the jurisdiction for their review for zoning compliance. They will then fax their approval back, and the application will then be finished with processing and sent upstairs to be assigned.


What are the site plan requirements?

Environmental Services site plan requirements follow the IDPP guidelines (scale 1 inch = 40 ft, 50 ft, 60 ft or 100 ft.). Show all structures, driveways, buffers and easements. Three setbacks and zoning approval are required. Impervious surface calculations may be required for zoning approval.


If I do not have a site plan, where can I obtain one?

Wake County Geographic Information Services (GIS), on the 5th floor of the WCOB, can provide a site plan to scale; however, it will be up to the property owner to add the structure to scale, along with the required setbacks. They might be able to obtain one from the surveyor who last surveyed their property.


What is the difference between a “perk test” and a “soil analysis”?

“Perk Test” and “soil analysis” are common terms used to describe a “Soil Evaluation,” which is the correct term for evaluating a lot. It is done on site using an auger to dig the soil and then using hands to “feel” and eyes to “see” the soil to evaluate it. The “Perk Test” was outlawed in the late '70s. It involved pouring water in a hole and measuring the amount of water to leave the hole over a specified time period. It was easily manipulated to alter the results.


What is the repair area?

This means the area reserved for the installation of additional nitrification fields and is not to be covered with structures or impervious materials.


What services are included in a site evaluation (relocation, new septic, verification, etc.)?

A site evaluation is a detailed review of the lot including soils, proposed type/size of structure, and available space requirements for initial system and repair system. Staff evaluates a number of site/soil factors including determination of suitability of soils present, design of the wastewater system, determination of conformance to setback requirements and location of a well site if needed. Before writing a permit, staff will also check adjacent lots for well and septic locations that could impact the lot permitted.


A relocation inspection includes checking the existing system for proper operation and wastewater flow function. Sizing of the existing system must be consistent with the use proposed in the application. Any changes in use or design wastewater flow will likely necessitate evaluation of the site for expansion of the capacity of the existing system, along with provision of sufficient repair area. Well sites are also reviewed in the relocation process for regulatory compliance.


A verification inspection is done when changes are being proposed to the shape of the lot, usually when it is being divided to create an additional lot or lots. The work done is similar to that done during a relocation inspection, but includes additional fieldwork with redesigning the repair area and a new CA (Construction Authorization) is written to reflect the new conditions on the lot. The addition or pool usually requires the original system to be modified to accommodate the application.


What is the process for different types of additions?

For pools, decks, garages, sheds, storage buildings, or any construction that changes the house's current footprint. The applicant must submit application for a building permit for the jurisdiction where the property is located:

  • Have a scaled site plan (same requirements as new construction)
  • Be prepared to pay $100 site visit fee
  • Be prepared to stake the proposal in the field (if site visit is needed) and locate all property corners and property lines.

The permit processor will refer the site plan to the ES Technical Advisor (or any OSWW member). A determination will be made whether a site visit ($100) will be required prior to issuance of the building permit. Approval of a proposal without a site visit (office approval) is the decision of the OSWW staff member. A building permit is released once the approval has been obtained.

A site visit will be required ($100 fee) if:
  • the septic permit cannot be found
  • the septic system or repair area are not convincingly unaffected by the proposed addition
  • the septic system or the repair area are clearly affected
  • the permit or records are poor and/or illegible.


The purpose of the site visit is to determine the impact of the proposal and ensure all legal setbacks to the system currently serving the structure and the future repair.


If the site visit reveals a major impact to the system, a septic permit must be written to approve and accommodate the proposal; IDPP will collect the required $200 for the Construction Authorization (CA fee) that covers the septic permit. After fee is paid, the building permit can be released. If the site visit determines that no septic permit needs to be written, the site plan will be approved and forwarded to IDPP to release the building permit.


What if I want to add a bedroom?

Whether the proposed bedroom addition changes the footprint of the house or is simply another room in the home being converted, a septic permit application must be submitted. In most cases, a home’s wastewater flow is designed according to bedroom count. In the event the home was built with more bedrooms than the system was designed for, a septic application must be submitted in order to begin a site evaluation. The “goal” of this site evaluation is to enlarge the system so that it is appropriately sized and ensure a full repair area for the new system’s size.


What are inspectors looking for when doing various types of inspections?

They are looking for compliance to the rules and regulations pertaining to the inspection. There are different items associated with each different type of inspection we perform.


What do I do if my lot is denied?

If you have questions regarding the reason for denial, please contact the Environmental Health Specialist who evaluated your site. You can request an informal review by ES or you may employ an appropriately licensed consultant to provide a proposal for review of regulatory conformance. You may appeal the decision in accordance with ES appeals procedures, if you substantiate that ES incorrectly applied regulations.


What are the projected turnaround times for new permits, verifications and relocations?

The goal of new permits turnaround is 10 to 15 days for the FIRST site visit. Workload, staffing, weather, etc., impact this goal. This does not mean a permit is issued by the 15th day. If problems with the site or new site plan are required, the clock has stopped for the first visit. 

  • Verifications are going to be handled by the Team Leader, and the goal for the first visit will be five working days.
  • Relocations should be handled with the new permit work, and the goal will be the same, at 10 to 15 days.
  • Repairs are also going to be handled by team leader or senior staff, with a goal of 10- to 15-day visits.
  • The wastewater supervisor must periodically update actual turnaround time.

What is required of the customer when submitting a Certified Operators Agreement &/or Maintenance Agreement?

A copy of the Certified Operators contract with both the owner’s and the operator’s signature must be submitted (usually 2-4 pages long). Recorded Maintenance Schedule must be notarized and then recorded at the Wake Co. Register of Deeds, with the Book and Page of the recorded document submitted to us. Both of these items are required of all new LPP or Multiple Pump (Type IV) systems and Pretreatment and Flow Equalization (Type V) systems. If they are required, the D screen will have a “Y” in the fields following Main: “Y” and Oper: “Y.” Once they have been submitted, change the “Y’s” to “R.” Type III systems will sometimes require a Maintenance Schedule and/or a contract with a Certified Operator. If either is required, there will be a “Y” in the Main: “Y” and Oper: “Y” fields.


What constitutes receiving a refund? (If the inspector has/has not been out to the site, etc.)

A refund is allowed when the EHS has not completed the first site visit. This is displayed on the F2 screen or F3 screen notes. A refund can be issued if the customer is charged incorrectly. A refund of the well fee is allowed when the lot has been denied.


When can a permit be released for conditional power?

Conditional power can be released on permits when a pump is required. The structure must have passed its electrical final inspection before the approval will be given. There must be a “Y” in the pump field on both the D screen and the IDPP F1 screen. The conditional power is only available for 60 days. Builders must contact IDPP, not ES, for conditional power.


Where can I have my soil tested for soil type (i.e., planting grass, gardening)?

Call Cooperative Extension at 919-250-1100.

Have questions or need more information? Contact our Wastewater Information Specialist at or 919-856-7434.