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What is a Permeameter?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 17, 2024
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A permeameter is a measuring device used in instances where the amount of electromagnetic permeability of natural substances such as iron may be identified to determine whether or not they are suitable for commercial use. Permeameters may also be used to determine whether or not the soil content of a specific area of land may be suitable for a wastewater treatment system, by testing the permeability of the ground around where the system would be placed. There are a number of uses for the different types of permeameters, however the two main functions are to measure the amount of electromagnetic permeability in different soil components and to determine soil compaction for suitability for construction.

A permeameter may be used in a number of different applications where the user needs to know different aspects of the elements underneath a specific surface. For instance, a permeameter may be used to inform a user in the construction field exactly how permeable a certain section of concrete is. The higher the level of allowed permeation by any liquid substance, the weaker the piece of concrete is. Permeameters may also be used to check the permeability of different roadway surfaces to ensure that the materials being used to construct the roadways are suitable. Surfaces that allow water or other fluids to seep them and possibly wash out soil under them can lead to dangerous sinkholes and basins.

Another application that a different sort of permeameter can be used in is determining soil compaction. This is used to determine whether a specific ground area is suitable for construction. It's important to know the permeation level of the soil or clay and whether its conducive to shifting or washing out with the introduction of water.

This compaction permeameter is used differently than a conventional permeameter. In this use, it acts as a pressure tank, applying water pressure to a soil sample to determine the amount of water needed to permeate the soil sufficiently to make it shift or wash away. In uses where the soil is to be tested for water permeability for the installment of a wastewater disposal or treatment unit, the soil is tested for its ability to be saturated and allow the flow of wastewater without allowing it to pass into any underground springs or other natural water supplies.

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