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How To Find Your Septic Tank

Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 11:45am

One of the biggest questions we are asked is “How do I find my septic tank?” Eventually every septic tank will fill up and will need to be pumped. When your tanks lid is not easy to find – especially if you are not the original home owner – you might not have a clue on how or where to find the lid. In most cases, all components of the septic tank are buried between 4 inches and 4 feet underground.

First things first – consult a map. This is the easiest option, and if you have a map it should be the simplest one to follow. Most counties retain records of the installation of septic tanks to all of addresses. These maps should include diagrams showing the exact location of the tank on the property, and dimensions so that you can measure and find the exact spot. Don’t forget that landmarks might change throughout the years depending on when the tank was installed, so if there’s a few more bushes or a tree nearby, don’t count that spot out.
Tip: If you just purchased a property, this map should be included with your home inspection paperwork.

Since septic tanks are installed to be as inconspicuous as possible. After time has passed and the grass has grown, sometimes it’s hard to really see the visual clues that pointed out exactly where your septic tank was installed. Keep your eyes open as you walk your property and search for any unexplained high or low spots that might indicate a buried tank.

We’re sure you know, your septic tank is installed along the sewer line that extends from your home and into the yard. In the basement or crawl space of your home, you should be able to find a 4 inch sewer pipe which will lead the way to your septic system. Follow the pipe by sticking a thin metal probe into the ground near the sewer line. Probe about every two feet. Most septic tanks are around 10-25 feet away from your home, and cannot be closer than 5ft. Once you feel the probe striking flat concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene you will have located your tank.

Once you’ve found your tank, you can use your metal probe to locate the lid. Most septic tanks are rectangular and will measure about 5ft by 8ft. Probe around the tank to locate the edges and mark the perimeter. If you do not feel the lid by probing, a shallow excavation with a shovel within the perimeter and near the center (or broken into halves for a two compartment tank) should reveal the location of the lid or lids.

Once you’ve located your tank, it’s time to call in the professionals. Trust us, opening up a septic tank is not something just anyone wants to do. Concrete septic tank lids are very heavy and require specific lifting tools to remove. Because of the contents, fumes can be toxic so please heed our warning and do not attempt to open the tank yourself. An open septic tank can be dangerous to anyone walking along your property, and if someone should fall in, it could actually be fatal due to the toxicity.

Once your Mr. Rooter professional has pumped your septic tank, and reburied the lid – mark the spot for future reference! Something simple like a heavy patio tile embedded into the ground is an easy way to track your location without being an eye sore on your property. You can also make your own diagram to keep in your home to aid yourself or any plumbing professional that will be looking for your septic tank in the future.

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