How to Find Your Septic Tank?

Would you wish to know how to find your septic tank? While this might seem unimportant to you right now, it might prove helpful later. Knowing how to find the septic tank is a common concern for many new homeowners today. Most of them are not familiar with how their house works or are yet to service their tanks.

It is vital to understand how to find septic tank in an old house for maintenance or when you desire to remodel your new property. You will be able to carry out the exercise confidently because you know that the septic tank won’t get in your way.

Although a septic tank is a reliable and cost-effective waste management tool, it is not without its costs. The Environmental Protection Agency gives three years as the period over which a septic tank should be inspected at least [1].

Similarly, the tank should be pumped and cleaned at least once in three to five years. It is necessary to service the septic system to protect it from developing problems. For the maintenance to be successful, you first of all need to know where the tank is located.

What Is A Septic Tank?

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One of the essential parts of the septic system in a building is the septic tank. In the US, approximately 20% of households in the United States have a septic system for wastewater management. Rural homes are the most likely to have a septic system installed because they are few and far apart. For such households, it is much more cost-efficient to use a septic system rather than connecting to the public sewerage system. [2]

A septic system works on a fundamental concept. The wastewater discharged from the house is conveyed along the main drain pipe to the septic tank. The septic tank is a watertight reservoir that stores the wastewater until the solids have separated from the liquid water.

The tank is usually constructed using materials like polyethylene, concrete, or fiberglass. It is essential to know how to find your septic tank because it is generally buried in the ground. [3]

Solid waste is separated from the liquid by virtue of the weight difference between them. The heavier solids sink to the bottom of the tank while the liquid layer remains in the middle. Other substances like grease and oil float on top because they are less dense than water.

With time, the liquid effluent flows out of the tank and drains into a drain or leach field. The leach field has soil that aids in sieving the effluent to get rid of viruses, bacteria, and any other contaminant.

The tank is designed to prevent solids, grease, and oil from leaving the tank with the liquid effluent. Most septic tanks have outlet and inlet baffles as well as sanitary tees or effluent filters for separating the liquids from the solids.

How Do I Know That I Have A Septic Tank?

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You can tell if your property has a septic tank in several ways. One of them is to check your water bill for a wastewater management charge from your water utility company. It could be that you might not receive a water bill at all if you have a septic system in place.

Most homesteads with septic systems also have wells for water supply. Check the water line that comes into your house for a house meter. If there is no meter, then you are supplied with well water as opposed to public utility water.

The location of your house could also be an indicator of whether you have a septic tank or not. Most rural homes have septic systems installed since they are more economical. If your house is in a rural neighborhood, then you might have a septic system installed. You can talk to your neighbors as well to find out.

What Does The Top Of A Septic Tank Look Like?

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Another way to determine if you have a septic tank or not is to do a visual inspection of your property. There is usually a lid of some sort to indicate where the tank is. The presence of a small hill or mound on your property could imply this as well. It could be the leach field that the septic tank drains into.

The most definitive way how to find your septic tank is to inspect the property records. Public municipal blueprints and building permits usually include information on the whereabouts of septic tanks. [4]

Why Is It Important To Know How To Find Your Septic Tank?

What if I can’t find my septic tank? Is there anything to be gained from discovering where the septic tank on your property is? Knowing where your septic tank is vital for a number of reasons. The most important are discussed in detail below.

  1. For proper maintenance and servicing

The first reason for locating your septic tank is to properly service and maintain it. It is recommended that you avoid placing heavy objects on top of your septic tank. If you park or drive over the tank, it can collapse and cause a whole lot of trouble. You will need to indicate its position to ensure that visitors do not park there as well. This can only be possible if you know where the tank is in the first place.

  1. In case of a remodeling project

Perhaps you have just acquired a new property and want to give it a personal touch. Or maybe you are just bored with how your compound looks and want to spice things up by remodeling it. In each scenario, you will need to know where your septic tank is to avoid anything that might interfere with it.

Landscaping activities like planting trees with deep roots near or on top of your septic tank are highly discouraged. The roots could grow into the piping system or septic tank, causing the system to block and stop working. If you know where the tank is located, you can easily avoid such places in your landscaping project.

Moreover, it is not such a good idea to build a structure on top of your septic tank. First of all, the weight of the installation could overwhelm the tank and cause it to collapse. Secondly, the structure could obstruct you from accessing the tank in case you need to repair or service it. Consequently, it is better that you keep the path to the septic tank as clear as possible.

  1. To fix problems with the tank.

Knowing where your septic tank is also crucial since it helps to notice problems quickly when they occur. For instance, if you discover that water has accumulated near the septic tank, it could signal that the septic system has been loaded beyond its capacity. Once you notice this problem, you can call the plumber to fix it before it becomes more complex.

How To Find Your Septic Tank?

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  1. Using the Septic tank map

The first step towards finding your septic tank is to look at the map. Most local governments keep records and blueprints of all properties and structures within their jurisdictions. The records include maps and diagrams that indicate the location and dimensions of septic tanks.

Although landmarks around and within the property might change with time, the location of the tank does not. Be sure to check even where there is a change in landmarks. An excellent point to start from is to request a map of the property you have recently purchased if it hasn’t been provided already.

If you can’t access a map of your property to find where the septic tank is located, try checking with the county health department. A property survey map from your municipality can also help you locate the septic tank.

Perhaps your house is old and does not have records to help you locate the tank. And where records do exist, they might be so patchy that they can be of any help in this regard. You might need to go the old-fashioned way and look for the tank physically.

Make a point of developing your own map detailing the location of the septic tank when you find it. If you are prompted to sell the house in the future, the map can be helpful for the new owner in locating the septic tank.

  1. Following the Pipe network

Another way to locate the septic tank is to follow the sewage pipes leading away from your house. The tank is usually installed on the sewer line extending from the house into the yard area. The four-inch sewer pipe is generally hidden in the basement or other enclosed space. Take note of the place where the line leaves the house and follow it outside into the yard.

How To Find Septic Tank With Metal Detector ?

You can use a thin metal probe (soil probe) to help you in this process. Stick the probe every two feet. When you feel the probe in contact with fiberglass, concrete, or polyethylene, it means that you have found your tank. Most septic tanks are located about 10-25 feet away from the house.

You can use a drain snake inside the sewer pipe to locate the tank. This is done by threading the snake into the tube while taking note of bends and twists along the length. The snake stops if an obstacle is encountered, most probably the tank. Once you estimate the distance and direction of travel of the drain snake, you will be able to locate the tank.

A more technologically advanced method for locating the tank is to use a flushable septic tank locator flushed down the toilet. The locator will guide you to the septic tank.

  1. Yard inspection

While septic tanks are constructed to be as invisible as possible, you can locate yours by visual inspection of the yard. Consider searching in the yard area where there is a mound of earth, a bald patch, or where grass and vegetation are growing strongly.

These might indicate areas where the septic tank is installed. Areas like driveways, near trees, and heavy plants next to the well or under the patio should be disregarded because they are not recommended for septic tank locations.

  1. Asking your neighbors

If you live in a neighborhood where most homes have septic tanks, your neighbors can help you locate yours as well. Reach out to them and ask where their tanks are located relative to the house. This will enable you to figure out quickly where your own tank is situated, as well as help integrate faster into the community in case you are new to the place.

What Next After Locating Septic Tank?

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While finding your septic tank can be quite an adventure itself, it is not the reason for going into all the trouble of finding it. Most probably, you need to know how to find your septic tank cleanout to fix any problems or to service it. After seeing the septic tank, you need to exercise caution in how you go about the next steps.

One thing to avoid after locating the tank is trying to open the lid. Many septic tanks have heavy concrete lids that require special tools to lift them. Moreover, a septic tank produces gases that might be harmful if you breathe them in.

And, should you open the lid and forget to close it, the gaping hole might constitute a safety hazard for anyone in the compound. If the tank needs to be serviced, you should call in the plumber to see to the problem. Maybe you are wondering how much it does cost to locate a septic tank. Consulting an expert in the field will enable you to come up with a rough estimate for the whole project.[5]

Bottom Line

A working septic system is hardly noticed, that is until it stops working. A flooded septic tank is not only a sight sore but can also pose a danger to the household in terms of spreading disease. This is why it is essential to know where the tank is located before such problems occur. You will then be able to care for your septic system and ensure that it is functioning well.