If you’ve recently purchased a home in a rural area that’s not tied to a municipal sewage system, you may not even know where your septic tank is. Obviously, this is an issue, because if you don’t know where it’s located, then by extension, you don’t know where your drain field is, and you can’t direct septic tank service technicians to it for periodic inspections, repairs and tank pump outs.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways you can locate your tank, quickly and easily.
The first order of business is to check the paperwork that came with your inspection report. Odds are that the paperwork includes a septic tank map which will provide a drawing of your backyard, which will include the exact location of the tank.
If you didn’t get a septic tank map when you purchased your home, you can usually get one from the country health department, which maintains a record of all septic tanks, including their precise locations. Often, property survey maps will show this information too, so be sure to check that as well.
Unfortunately, no record keeping system is perfect and for one reason or another, your tank simply may not appear on any map. If that’s the case, then it pays to know generally where to look.
Septic tanks will almost always be in your back yard, and are usually no more than 25 feet from your house. They cannot be closer than five feet, which gives you a pretty narrowly defined range to search in.
If your home has a basement, then somewhere in it, you’ll find a four inch sewer pipe that leads away from your home and straight into your tank. Follow the pipe and you’ll absolutely find the tank. You can follow it outside by using a soil probe in the ground every couple of feet. When you feel the probe strike concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, you’ll have found the tank.
If you’re looking for a high tech solution, you can flush a low-cost transmitter down the toilet and track it to the tank, which is where it will end up.
Alternatively, if none of the possibilities above are to your liking, you can do some old school detective work. Septic tanks were designed to be fairly inconspicuous, but there are signs in your yard that will give away their location. If you’re doing this type of search, right off the bat, you know several places where the tank won’t be. It won’t be:
- Closer than 5 feet to your house.
- Close to your well, assuming you’ve got a well
- Close to an area where there’s thick, mature foliage like a hedge
- Or under a porch, deck, patio or driveway.
Having limited your search area with the things above in mind, start patrolling your back yard, keeping an eye out for subtle changes in elevation. This may take the form of a slight unexpected rise, or an unexpected depression. You may also see a bald patch, where grass seems to have a hard time growing back.
Of course, answering the question ‘How to find your septic tank?’ is only the first step. Once you know where it is, you want to make sure it provides you and your family with reliable, hassle-free service, preferably for as long as you own your home. To that end, you’ll want to make sure you do the following:
- Have your tank inspected at regular intervals
- Have the system repaired as needed
- And have your tank pumped out at regular intervals.
Generally speaking, we recommend having your system inspected once a year, and again any time you suspect you may be having a septic tank problem. But how to find your septic tank?
Regular inspections will give you peace of mind by ensuring that the system is, and remains in good working order and minimize your risk of having raw sewage backing up inside your home, which unfortunately, is the end point for most septic system problems. Leave them unattended long enough, and that’s bound to happen. You don’t want that to happen. Ever.
Repairs as needed is an easy one. Any time your system is inspected, it will either get a clean bill of health, or a problem will be found. If a problem is found, the best move is to have it repaired right then and there. Septic system issues don’t go away by themselves and whatever problem is found will only get worse with time, which usually means that the longer you wait, the more expensive it will be to repair.
Tank pump outs are a little trickier, because the exact interval varies widely from one household to another. If you live alone and don’t have overnight guests very often, and you’re pretty careful about what you flush down the toilet and pour down the sink, then you won’t need your tank pumped out nearly as often as someone who lives in a bustling household with a number of people and frequent overnight guests.
Every three years is a good rule of thumb, though single individuals may be able to get away with waiting longer than that. To establish your household’s baseline, you’ll want to be on the lookout for signs that your tank is nearing capacity, which include things like persistent dampness in your drain field, rattling pipes, problems flushing, slow draining sinks and the like.
Whatever your needs are where your home’s septic system is concerned, we’ve got you covered. At the first sign of trouble, just give us a call and we’ll take care of it for you.