Concrete septic tank cover photo s howing the cleanoutSeptic Tank Cover FAQs
Q&A on finding, fixing, replacing & safety of septic tank covers

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Septic tank covers, openings & access ports:

Here we provide a guide to septic tank covers, finding, types, and septic tank cover safety. Assuring the septic tank cover is safe. Where to look for the septic tanks, septic tank covers, or septic tank cleanout lids.

What are the types of septic tank covers, how do we assure the septic tank (cesspool, drywell, or seepage pit) cover is safe;

How deep is a septic tank cover buried, & do we find & remove septic tank covers?

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Septic Tank Covers

LARGER IMAGE: unsafe septic tank cover discovered by simple exploration - we roped this area off and placed heavy plywood over the opening - it was by a children's play area.

These questions and answers about septic tank covers or lids, repair, replacement, and most-important, safety were posted originally at SEPTIC TANK COVERS - be sure to review that article.

Once the Septic Tank has Been Located How Deep is The Septic Tank Cover & Is the Cover Safe? Not necessarily. The cover in our photo is inviting a fatal fallinto a septic tank or cesspool. Examples of accidents and fatalities at septic tanks are in a separate article: SEPTIC TANK ACCIDENT REPORTS.

On 2018-09-14 by (mod) - tell me how to "jerry rig a tarp over my open septic tank"


The worry here is in this order

1. Injury or death: Watch out: without a proper and safe cover someone can fall into the tank and be injured or killed

2. Surface water leaking into the septic tank or system risks overloading the septic drainfield, destroying it and sending sewage into the local environment.

If you can jury-rig a cover, even using plywood and a tarp, that drains away from the pumping chamber

AND IF you can also fence off and keep people away such that there is no safety hazard, you could try that, but I suspect that the time, trouble, and cost of those will be about the same as buying a new concrete cover from your local septic supplier.

On 2018-08-16 by pam

I already have a riser on the one where the guys ticks the pump down to pump it. and I have another round concrete one which is over the sewage pump tank.

a guy came to rewire the pump and it works fine but i can't afford a riser for that one and now it's all exposed.

I guess what I'm asking (is probably what u can't legitimately give me) is a way to cover it now that that area is dug down onlya foot or so but rain and sand are going to get into it Jerry riggin like a tarp or a piece of plywood with a tarp i guess is what i'm asking

this is a ?. My concrete lid nobody is going to fall through it's just rain and sand is going to get in thru cracks do I put a tarp over it or bury it with dirt i couldn't afford a riser and now this lid is exposed.

I just want to replace the concrete cover to mysewage pump tank. there are cracks around the rim I can see into and dirt and rain can get in especially since I dug around uit for the riser I now cannot afford.

On 2018-07-09 by (mod) - cost for a septic tank lid vs cost to update a septic


$30. to $400. U.S.D. depending on the materials, size, and location.


There is no reasonable, reliable answer to your question as we don't know anything about your septic system, condition, materials, country and city of location, nor local requirements. Cost could range from nothing to complete septic system replacement. In most areas of the U.S. that could be $15,000 to $40,000.

On 2018-08-19 by Miranda burdette

How much would coast to take a 1970 sewer/septic system up to date to pass inspection

On 2018-07-09 by Anonymous

I need an iron or steel, 18, 20, or 24 inch lid with riser,
How much it cost.

On 2018-04-27 by (mod) - an in-secure septic tank lid can cause death

Typical septic tank cross section - W. VA cited in detail in this article at InspectApedia.comLaura

An insecure septic tank lid can lead to death if some kid or some other worker removes a lid and falls-in to the tank.
So a secure lid is important.

Find the source or brand of septic tank, contact the manufacturer, and ask them directly how the lid should be fastened.

In West Virginia the septic design standards / code for general septic tanks do not specify anything about the septic tank cover nor whether or not it can be buried.

West Virginia septic design standards 6.20. Alternative and Experimental Sewer Systems. DO specify the following:

6.21.k. The wet well shall have an access manhole of twenty four (24) inches or greater in diameter. The installation of the manhole shall be level with or above the ground surface and the cover secured.

This is the only place that the "above ground" rule appears in the current code.

You will see by the sketch I include, excerpted from WEST VIRGINIA ES-52 INDIVIDUAL & ONSITE SEWAGE SYSTEM DESIGN STANDARDS ILLUSTRATED BOOKLET (I give access to that link below)

that your state shows the septic tank access cover buried.

So I would be very grateful if your septic contractor who insists that the top of the septic tank access cover must be above ground would be kind enough to tell us where he found that information.

You will find links to copies of current septic tank and septic system design standards and codes for West Virginia

On 2018-04-26 by Laura

Recently purchased house in Jefferson county wv.. this past spring new tank and field were installed before purchase of house.

New tank lid is above ground and during summer of 2017 myself and several contractors smelled sewage around the lid area..

2 of us went up on roof to smell roof pipes and there was absolutely no smell as I put my nose into the pipe and inhaled deeply...

plastic tank lid only has 3 screws in the lid and septic installer assured me only 3 are needed.

Looks like there is more holes available for tapping. When he/septic guy came out he couldn't smell anything.. also said tank lids are no longer allowed to be covered over in WV. Is all this true..

also I did have home take tank lid off to make sure the gasket was there.. it was.

On 2018-04-12 by (mod) -


You can check with local septic tank providers about pre-fab tank covers of the size you need, but I'm doubtful since you describe a nearly square cover - most septic tanks are rectangular and most tank covers have two openings to provide acess - not what you're seeking.

More likely you'd need a custom-made reinforced concrete cover.

See also WELL ABANDONMENT PROCEDURE - unless the well is filled with clean fill there is risk of back-contamination of the local water table.

On 2018-04-12 by Carolyn

We have an old water well that is very dangerous. We have knocked the sides down to ground level and need to place a cement cover over it. We need a 7ft x 8ft cover. Do they make a septic tank cover that size and if so would it be strong enough (reinforced) to do the job? And where would we find one that size? Thanks

On 2018-03-19 by (mod) - the dogs removed part of our septic tank or control covering

The dog ate my septic tank - well part of it (C) NTNT

Please find your question and our detailed reply at the end of the article SEPTIC TANK COVERS - I moved the discussion there to permit more space. Let me know what questions remain.

On 2018-03-18 19:44:30.952318 by NT

Our dogs removed what appears to be a part of our septic which was covering wiring. Where can I fine a replacement?

On 2018-03-13 21:42:33.698749 by Zuleima Moreno

Looking for A concrete septic tank lid in Houston tx

On 2018-01-31 19:13:29.371782 by (mod) -


Use the picture frame icon to the right of the comments button to attach a photo of the situation and perhaps we can comment further.

On 2018-01-29 20:02:25.473503 by Mike C.

Thanks for the advice. I am heading down that road now.

On 2018-01-29 19:20:07.880671 by (mod) -

I would look for a local septic tanks fabricator or mason contractir who could make a safe, steel reinforced cover to your measurements with iappropriate lifting handles

On 2018-01-29 18:13:32.798482 by Mike C.

I have an old but functioning septic tank that has a large 40.5" od 36" id measured at the flats of the octagon tank access. Yes, the tank itself has an octagon access to the holding tank. No riser, just cement. It has passed inspection every year for many years but the original, 200lb cement access cover cracked the last time it was removed for inspection and now I need a new ventilated cover.

Does anybody know where I can find a cover or cover adapter/riser that will fit this large octagon access? I have tried all the companies found by google, yelp and so on.

I don't want to have to make my own cover out of wood and steel/aluminum. That would be a pain in the neck and I'm a disabled vet that has a hard time doing things like that now.

Short of finding some fabricator to make me a custom cover is there another solution?

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

On 2017-12-27 00:12:57.180486 by (mod) -

Simplest would be to check with local septic suppliers once you have the measurements for your septic tank opening. But be careful of fiberglass cover may be too easily removed by children which would make for a very dangerous situation.

On 2017-12-26 17:57:47.062685 by velma howell

i ment to say a septic tank lid perfer a fiber glass

On 2017-12-26 17:56:13.876150 by velma howell

i am looking for a place to buy a septic tank perfer a fiber glas lid

On 2017-10-07 15:05:04.882696 by K Brooks

My septic tank has an exposed concrete lid. My guess is about 5’x6’ and it needs to be replaced. My husband is going to frame it out and pour it, I just have been searching the internet to figure out if that’s all it needs or if there’s more to it... thanks in advance!!

On 2017-10-07 09:20:15.950023 by Joanne

My septic tank has 2 square is only 6 inches from surface while the second one is 24 inches from the surface...we are unable to remove the cement lid and afraid if forced the steel handle may break...need some advice on how to "unstick" the 21" square cement cover...thanks.

On 2017-05-13 21:29:37.852889 by (mod) -


Typically, because the components are heavy, concrete septic tank producers will be located not far from where you find concrete septic tanks already installed.

I'd call local septic contractors to ask for suppliers who can then probably provide a new concrete septic tank lid or cover that you need. That will save having to build one of reinforced concrete onsite.

On 2017-05-13 20:09:02.144949 by Anonymous

I am looking for a cement slab 100cm by 50cm , or a complete cover 6foot by 4foot to cover my septic tank which is the old cement kind.

On 2017-03-27 14:19:29.574045 by (mod) -

Sorry I'm unclear what you need. If your tank is concrete it will want a solid and safe concrete top - from a concrete septic tank supplier.

I think you may be asking about installing septic tank risers - large round pipes placed over the septic tank openings and then covered with their own caps - and sealed at the tank top: this gives access to the tank cleanouts from grade level. Those too are provided by septic tank suppliers.

On 2017-03-27 13:59:12.174002 by Gloria

I just put a new fieldline pipe...I have 1000 gal tank is to low where can I find a top for my tank..I have a square cement block..small....I live in the country...these tank been here 20 years.I have to dig up the dirt to get to the tank lid..thank you

On 2016-09-02 21:28:46.311337 by (mod) -

George in SEPTIC TANK COVERS you 'll find a live link to the answer in detail in this sentence

For information about septic tank cover strength & vehicle loading, information that also applies to cesspools, drywells and similar structures,

On 2016-09-02 04:30:30.479644 by George

I should add that I have 3 stacked with a total of 18 around the the cover. This was needed to bring it to grade.

On 2016-09-02 04:27:03.946559 by George

What is the amount of weight that the tank hold. Reason is that I installed 4in x 7in x14in sold concrete blocks around the corner cover and need to verify that this is not to much weight?

On 2016-07-01 by (mod) - block off access to unsafe septic tank covers or lids

PHOTO of a septic seepage pit collapse when a truck drove over it.Watch out:
Rope off the area immediately: if someone falls into a septic tank it usually means a very quick death.

That said, it sounds as if you have an old round steel septic tank. Not only do covers rust out and ultimately collapse, but tank baffles rust off (fouling the drainfield and shortening its remaining life), and tank sides and bottoms rust through - meaning new tank time.

At the very least you want to keep people away from the area, and hire a septic contractor to expose the lid, remove it or its remains, then inspect the condition of the tank and its baffles; when you tell me what's found we can have a joint opinion on repair vs. replace.

On 2016-07-01 by Sam

I have a 6 foot round sewer tank and lid in my back yard 2 feet underground recently i parked a camper on top of it for about a week and i noticed the wheel sank about 8 inches

i pulled the camper front and there was a hole in my yard i dug some more dirt away and realized there was no lid on my tank do they deteriorate over time or was it just not made for that much weight or did i have a faulty lid and why did the whole lid just disappear and how do i fix it

On 2016-06-27 by (mod) - many septic contractor foul-ups

What a mess. This is a question you need to discuss with your attorney. In particular look at the contract of sale to see who is responsible for what. If the seller was responsible for giving you a properly installed, working septic system, then that may be where your recourse lies.

This is a question you need to discuss with your attorney. In particular look at the contract of sale to see who is responsible for what. If the seller was responsible for giving you a properly installed, working septic system, then that may be where your recourse lies.

On 2016-06-27 by Cindy

We bought a house back in April and the previous owner had hired a septic company and they said that he needed a whole new tank and lines. Well, it was the start of a nightmare. It took them 2 months to get it done.

They first put in the wrong size tank (too small), then had to hire someone to lift it out and then put in a larger one (concrete).

They destroyed all of our landscaping and now we have a huge area with just hard dirt (we live in Arizona).

They never covered up the covers of the septic tank (we actually have 2 covers plus the vent pipe). They never came back with dirt to cover them up. Should they have? Aren't they suppose to?

Also, they wanted more money from the owner. They quoted a price before they started the job. I assumed he paid that.

When they made the mistake with the tank, the septic co. wanted to charge more but the previous owner said he wasn't going to pay any more money. He since moved out and we moved in and now we are stuck with this issue. What are my rights in this situation. I came from Massachusetts and they have much stricter laws then Arizona.

On 2016-06-20 by (mod) - be extra safe about septic tanks when a property is sometimes unattended - locking cover


It makes sense to be extra safe when a property is sometimes unattended;

if your septic tank covers are light enough to be removed by a child or mischief maker you can either have a heavier concrete cover installed or fabricate across bar that locks into U-bolts cemented into the cover top. I don't think it should be necessary to replace the whole tank cover.

(Simply buying an add-on septic cover won't solve the locking problem as that doesn't provide a mechanical connection to the body of the septic tank cover.)

On 2016-06-20 by Edwin Davies

We have holiday cottages and would like a locking system for our septic tank.

On 2016-05-22 17:59:53.602900 by Denise

I have a 4" PVC pipe, clean out opening, in the grass, about 4-5 feet away from a 12"-15" black cover. I believe one or both of these are my septic tanks clean out or access ports.

The black covering lands right in the middle of my front door walkway and the concrete has broken to pieces all around the black covering. I'm wanting to repair the concrete section, (4'x5'). Questions: why and what are these 2 openings for; is it necessary to have both; can I lay the concrete over the black covering or do I need to keep that opening accessible?

If I build a form to make a concrete covering to go over the black cap, is there a weight restriction for the covering? Also, the concrete covering I would build would be approximately 12"-15" diameter and 2" thick. Is this thick enough for people to walk on?

On 2016-05-22 12:07:21.378842 by (mod) -

If the lid is not shut and easily moved the tank is not safe as someone can fall in, dying quickly. It may need replacement with a safer lid.

Superficial surface concrete loss less than 1/2" may be unimportant as long astory there are no leaks into or out if the tank.

On 2016-05-17 15:41:50.427623 by Cue

I have a concrete septic tank and the lid has shifted so it is not short on one side and overlaps the other..

i can see the concrete has been cracked and eating away in one spot Also there are a couple of placeson the top of the tank where the lid sits that are not smooth.(missing a little cement).. what should i use to fix it ? Should

On 2016-04-19 13:10:13.036428 by (mod) -

Contact your local septic contractor: you should be able to find a generic access opening cover that overlays the opening and is heavy enough to be child safe - or can be locked down

On 2016-04-19 02:16:40.825058 by brandon

Im trying to fin a 21.5 inch cover for a friend but I can't find it anywhere

On 2015-06-17 20:27:23.214950 by (mod) -

What is dangerous about Anonymous' advice is the possibility that a potential buyer, realtor, or anyone else among the increased traffic of people walking about on a property for sale results in a death when someone falls into the septic tank.

On 2015-06-17 16:58:37.485150 by Anonymous

find a new buyer, have it put in your sale he is buying the property as is where is. i would not go there. it has not been a problem for 17 years. if this buyer has a problem let him open it once he owns the property.

On 2015-06-02 21:48:40.179810 by (mod) -


In my OPINION I would not hesitate to have the tank opened, inspected for safety, and if fill is needed, have that done. Just consider the perhaps unlikely but terrible event of someone walking over the septic tank and falling in

- often a fatal event and not something I'd tolerate. The risk is greater when you have the public coming onto a property for sale. The cost to open and check should be trivial, less than 1% of the value of a home for sale in North America.

Consider it a cost of sale expense that provides safety and also puts your buyer at ease. If a significant problem or expense is found, disclose that and decide with advice from your realtor and attorney how you'll consider that in negotiating the sale price.

If specific problems are found or questions arise don't hesitate to ask us for further help.

On 2015-06-02 20:44:08.078220 by George

I am selling my home and I have an abandoned septic tank in the backyard (somewhere.) I have lived here for 17 years and it was abandoned before I bought the home in 1998 back in 1974.

I checked with my local health dept and sewer authority for any paperwork about the abandonment but was told back then (1974) they did not archive that paperwork but did tell me it had to be properly abandoned before the sewer was hooked up.

But that does not count. So now the buyers want me to reopen the septic tank and have it verified that it was properly closed. Is this routinely done? And who does this? And is there some terminology for this procedure? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

Question: how to reduce septic tank opening to install riser and lid

(Oct 28, 2014) deb said:

i have a concrete septic tank built in 1960. Mandatory municipal inspection are requesting a new lid. presently the openof the is 2 feet by 4 feet and covered by a huge slab of flagstone. im not sure how to reconfigure the opening to make it smaller so that i can install a poly lid and possibly a riser


I agree that a 4-foot septic tank opening dimension is probably larger than needed.

Deb: you'd need to overlay and seal to the existing septic tank top a pre-cast concrete slab, reinforced and of same thickness as the septic tank lid, leaving a standard septic tank access opening size over which you can install a riser and new lid.

Be sure that the new septic tank lid is child safe as well as of adequate strength to avoid collapse hazards which can be quite dangerous.

Before doing anything, I'd ask an experienced septic installer to inspect the tank for safety and adequacy as the odd sized opening might indicate some home made and possibliy unsafe system,.

Question: report of septic tank lid collapse

2 Jan 2015 Anonymous said:

I purchased my home 15 years ago. The previous owner connected to a sanitary sewer system when it became available bypassing the septic tank.

I heard a loud thump recently and upon investigation found a rectangular hole 2 feet by 3 feet and about 5 feet deep. It is in the general location of where the septic tank should have been .

Could the old tank lid have collapsed?i If so, can I just cover up the hole? There seems to be only water in the hole. No sewage or effluvia is present


Watch out: indeed this sounds like a dangerous septic tank collapse - which can be fatal if someone falls into the septic tank. It also sounds as if the tank was not properly abandoned - by emptying, cleaning, and filling with sand or other suitable material.

Properly a tank is abandoned following procedures at SEPTIC TANK ABANDONMENT GUIDE

Question: how easy is it for a child to open a septic tank

(Mar 28, 2015) Anonymous said:
How hard would it be for a child say around 5 yrs old to open a lid on a septic tank? Or could a child that small even be able to lift one? How much does each different type of lids weigh?



If a septic tank access cover is not heavy concrete or is light but not secured to the tank then a child can lift the lid, fall in, and die.

Septic tank access lid weights vary significantly depending on their material; plastic lids, wooden home-made lids, makeshift lids, slabs of slate and other improper or unsafe covers I've seen are easily lifted by a child.



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