How do I know where my septic system is?
Wastewater permits can now be viewed online. View more information here. If your permit has not been scanned, 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 plumbing exits your house. 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 to assist in locating your system.

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. Point of sale inspections can only be conducted by Certified Septic Inspectors. A list of inspectors may be located from the following website:

North Carolina Onsite Wastewater Contractor Inspector Certification Board

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)
  • Surface Waters: 50 feet
  • Embankments or cuts 2 feet deep or greater: 15 feet
  • Property line: 10 feet

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), 336 Fayetteville St., downtown Raleigh. Wake County Jurisdiction starts at the PDI (Planning, Development & Inspections) counter, and they will forward the application to 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 PDI 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?

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. You might be able to obtain one from the surveyor who last surveyed the property. 

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

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. The current method of determining if a lot is viable for a subsurface wastewater system (septic system) is to conduct a "Soil/Site Evaluation". This method involves the use of mechanical field evaluation techniques that determine the suitability of the soil, and other property/landscape features, for subsurface wastewater disposal. 

What is the repair area?

This means the area reserved for the installation of additional nitrification fields, in the event that the initial wastewater disposal system malfunctions. It is not to be covered with structures or impervious materials, graded, or otherwise damaged, as this could render the area unusable for the future repair system.

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 evaluate 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; PDI 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 PDI 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?

  • Turnaround times are a goal the department works toward to provide an acceptable product delivery for our customers. It is measured, in business days, from the date of application to the date of first site evaluation. This does not mean a permit is issued, only that the initial site evaluation was conducted. Variables such as seasonal workload, current staffing levels, weather, etc. impact turnaround time. 
    • New Single Family Residential Applications:
      • The turnaround time goal is 7 business days.
    • Verification Applications:
      • The turnaround time goal is 5 business days.
    • Relocation/System Reuse Applications: 
      • The turnaround time goal is 7 business days.
    • Repair/Complaint Applications: 
      • The turnaround time goal is 7 business days.
      • Immediate Threats to Public Health are handled on the same business day
*We are currently working on providing up to date actual turnaround times. The link for that will be located here, and on our main page, when we have the page ready. 

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 County Register of Deeds, with a copy provided back to us. Both of these items are required of all new LPP (Type IV) systems. Type V systems also require them. 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?

A refund is allowed under the following conditions:

  • when the REHS has not completed the first site visit to the property. 
  • if the customer is charged incorrectly. 
  • A refund of the well fee, if applicable, is allowed when the lot has been denied for a wastewater permit.

When can a permit be released for conditional power?

Conditional power can be released on permits ONLY when a pump is required as part of the septic system. The structure must have passed its electrical final inspection before the approval will be given. The conditional power is only available for 60 days. Builders must contact PDI, 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.