LARGER IMAGE: having a general idea of what septic components are helps you find where they may be locatedSeptic Tank or Pipe Locating Equipment Guide

  • SEPTIC TANK LOCATING EQUIPMENT - CONTENTS: Septic Tank or Pipe Locating Equipment Choices, Uses, Methods. How to locate the septic tank at a property, as step by step procedure to find any septic tank. Using metal detector, electronic pipe tracers, and probes to find the septic tank
  • SEPTIC TANK, HOW TO FIND - separate article
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to find the septic tank using simple tools or more sophisticated electronic equipment or cameras for locating septic tanks & piping.

Septic tank locating equipment: this document suggests & describes some simple tools and devices used for finding a septic tank. This article tells assists in finding the septic tank when it's placement is not already known or when the location of the septic tank is not visually obvious.

Videos showing how to find the septic system, septic tank, & septic drainfield are included at SEPTIC LOCATION VIDEOS. Also see SEPTIC DRAINFIELD LOCATION - how to find the leach fields.

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SEPTIC TANK LOCATING EQUIPMENT - These Simple and More Special Tools & Equipment Can Help Locate A Septic Tank

Septic tank marker (C) D FriedmanBelow we describe septic tank locating tools & equipment. If you have not read our more basic guide to finding your way to the septic tank by visual inspection, see SEPTIC TANK, HOW TO FIND.

Watch out: do not try to probe or excavate a septic tank, drywell, or cesspool if you are not certain that the installation has a save, secure cover. Probing or digging over a failing septic tank or cesspool or drywall can precipitate a fatal cave-in of the system.

Our photo, left, illustrates a secure concrete septic tank cover whose location is being measured to assist future location efforts.

  • A simple septic tank locating probe such as a 1/4" steel rod or a heavier steel wrecking bar are used by some inspectors or septic service companies to probe the ground over a suspected septic tank location.

    Watch out: jamming a heavy wrecking bar into the soil can perforate a steel septic tank cover or break a terra cotta or orangeburg septic drain line.

    These methods can however be useful if used carefully in soft or wet soils. (In a related septic application, the examination of septic fields, we've used a wrecking bar to make holes in a drainfield not right over a drain line, in order to look at soil conditions. A failing septic may send effluent right up to the surface through such an opening.)
  • A shovel is a low tech and high sweat method of finding any buried object if you have a general idea where to look. At our first septic tank search in 1969 our contractor used a backhoe to "find" the septic tank. He "found" it alright, by driving over and collapsing an old steel septic tank. I wished we'd started more gently with a shovel.
  • Metal detectors can find some septic tanks if the tank top is steel or if a steel manhole cover was used to cover the tank access port. [Thanks to David Liberman for this reminder - July 2007].
  • Electronic Drain Pipe Sensor to find the septic tank: The septic tank can be located exactly electronically: Some plumbing contractors can at this point find the exact septic tank location by using a special plumbing snake fed into the main house drain line.

    The plumbing snake is pushed into the drain line from an convenient location and extended until it hits an obstruction which may be an obstruction in the drain line or it may be that the snake has extended into and hit the septic tank. An electronic signal is fed into the metal plumbing snake.

    From outside, a receiver can sense the signal from the plumbing snake. By passing the receiver, a sort of electronic metal detector, over the property surface, the exact path of the snake in the buried drain line can be followed right to the tank.
  • Ground scanning radar to find the septic tank: radar can locate buried septic tanks, buried oil tanks, and other objects below the soil. Companies providing buried oil tank location services often can provide this (more expensive) service.

Warning about using metal detectors or electronic pipe sensors to find Septic Tanks

Metal detectors or probes which mark the path of an underground pipe are excellent and rapid ways to locate buried drain and septic system components. But at an old property we've had an occasional glitch that was potentially dangerous. Older properties sometimes have multiple generations of buried wires and pipes which can lead to an error in the readings from buried pipe or buried septic tank sensors.

We called our local gas company to locate a buried gas line. Clipping a sending unit to a pipe at the gas meter the technician proceeded to paint a yellow line across our (then frozen) soil. He said that his yellow mark was accurate to an inch in marking the exact pipe location.

Using a jackhammer to break frozen soil to locate a water pipe we began digging 18" away from the yellow line marking the gas line. As you might guess, we found the gas line itself right where we were digging! Further investigation found that an old steel water pipe running parallel to the current and parallel to the gas line had caused an 18" error in the readings from the buried pipe sensing equipment.

Watch out: Do not use backhoes, wrecking bars, or jackhammers to excavate where dangerous utilities may be buried. If you call your local gas or electric utility company they will be glad to send an expert to your site to mark the location of buried electrical and gas lines that may be present.

Suggested citation for this web page

SEPTIC TANK LOCATING EQUIPMENT at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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