How to Find Your Septic Tank

by Michael on April 20, 2010 · 0 comments

We’re having some landscaping done this spring, so we decided that now would be a good time to have our septic tank pumped out. We’ve been in the house for just under four years, and we’re not sure whether or not the previous residents ever had it done so we’re probably overdue.


Of course, when you’re having your septic tank cleaned out, the first step is to actually find it. In some cases, your septic tank access points will be equipped with risers that make it easy to find and access. In most cases, however, your tank will be completely buried.

It’s also important to know where your septic tank and drain field are located so don’t inadvertently drive over them or otherwise damage them. What follows are some tips for finding your septic tank.

Check with your county

When trying to locate your septic tank, your first stop should be to check with your county. Around here, the Department of Environmental Health keeps written records of all septic tank installations.

Not only can they provide a diagram of where the tank is installed, but they can also give you details on the tank size, depth, location and design of septic field, etc.

Go under your house

Assuming that you have access to the plumbing under your house, another option is to go down and look for where the main sewer line exits your house. This will give you a rough location to start looking.

Most locales have requirements as to the minimum distance between your foundation and the septic tank (typically around 10 feet)

Probe the ground

When our septic guys showed up, I showed them roughly where the tank was located based on county records as well as where our sewer line exits the crawl space. They then started probing the ground with a steel rod to find the exact location.

Simply insert the rod into the ground until you hit your tank. Keep poking around to find the edges, and you’ll have an outline of the tank. From there, it’s just a matter of digging it up to gain access.

Other options

There are, of course, other options available. For example, septic tank lids often have a metal handle, so you might be able to locate them with a metal detector. I’ve also heard of flushable, electronic sensors that you can send down the toilet and then use a handheld detector to find out where they end up.

The options listed above, however, are the simplest and most sure-fire methods for finding your septic tank.


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