“It’s 9 o’clock, do you know where your septic tank is?” Ok, so maybe that’s a bit too dramatic – but it’s a common question for our customers. This is especially true for new homeowners who aren’t as familiar with the inner workings of the house or haven’t needed septic tank service yet.
Knowing the location of your septic tank is very important for maintenance or when you want to plant new landscaping on your property. If you’re searching for your tank, we have some advice that can help.
Why you need to know where your septic tank is located
If your home does not use municipal sewage services, then you almost certainly have a septic tank to divert and hold all your wastewater somewhere underground on your property.
While a septic system is dependable and cost-efficient, it’s not 100% maintenance-free. According to the EPA, a septic tank be inspected at least every three years and pumped every three to five years. It’s also possible to have a problem with the tank or pipes. In any of those cases, you’ll need to know where the septic tank is located so you can have it serviced.
How to find your septic tank
- Ask your neighbors – If you have a septic tank, then it’s likely your neighbors do as well. Maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will know where your tank is or can help you narrow down the search.
- Check public records – Your local county or municipality may have a septic tank map on file that includes a diagram and dimensions of your property. Before heading to your local records office, look through the home inspection report from when you bought the house to see if there’s any mention of a septic tank and its locations.
- Follow the sewer pipes – If you have to locate the tank yourself, start in the basement and find the sewer pipe that exits the home. This pipe is typically four inches in diameter. Then go outside to the other side of the wall. Using a metal soil probe to poke small holes in the ground, trace the route of the pipe until you hit the tank. You’ll feel a difference once you hit the flat top surface of the tank with the probe.
- Look around the yard – If you have a large property, it can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. To make your search easier, you can rule out areas near structures, paved surfaces, the water well, and hopefully large trees or landscaping. It’s also possible that you will notice an area of grass that’s a bit greener or growing faster near the tank.
- Find the septic tank lid – No matter how you zero in on the location of the tank, you may need to do a little digging to uncover the lid of the tank. You can use the soil probe to identify the perimeter – most tanks will be a roughly 5×7 ft. rectangle. Once you have the edges marked, start shoveling in the center and work your way around until you find the lid. However, unless you’re servicing the tank right away, there’s no reason to open up the lid and releasing the pungent fumes.
After you find your septic tank, be sure to keep the map in a safe place or mark the location for future use. This will help you avoid adding any structures or planting deep-rooted plants near the path of the sewer pipe and septic tank. A map or hand-written diagram may also come in handy when selling your home.