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How to find the septic tank:
A video guide to locating buried septic tanks in order to inspect, test, clean, or repair the septic system. How to locate the septic tank at a property, as step by step procedure to find any septic tank;
Where to look for the septic tanks, septic tank covers, or septic tank cleanout lids
VISUAL CLUES LOCATE TANK - Visual Outdoor Clues Can Tell The Septic Tank Location
Septic tank location guide: here we provide suggestions and procedures for finding a septic tank.
When the septic tank needs to be pumped, a regular
maintenance task, the cost of that service will be less if the property owner found the septic tank location and perhaps even uncovered the
septic tank pumping access cover.
Other reasons to find the septic tank include inspecting and testing septic systems
when buying a home or for safety, to assure that the septic tank cover is in good condition.
The septic video shown here describes how we walk a homesite to find the septic tank and drainfield location. More videos on septic system location & maintenance are at SEPTIC VIDEOS.
Look for clues that often mark the location of a septic tank, starting outside the area where the main waste line leaves the house.
In this winter example, the depression near the house marks the septic tank cleanout which in this case was close to the
Here is a closer look at snow melt indicating the tank location.
And here is a similar clue at melted depressions in snow cover which locate the
septic leach field lines at the same property.
If you want to be
really clever, click on this photo of the yard and end of the house to enlarge it and notice the window to the left of the chimney, and the round silver
perforated "thing" to the left of and below that window? That's the plumbing waste line vent. We knew where the main waste
line exited the house without needing to go inside to look! The tank was likely to be in line with that vent which itself
is likely to be just above the main waste line exit pipe.
Here are Visual Clues at that can Locate Septic System Components at a Homesite
Stones, slates, stakes, or other markers may have been left by a previous building owner to show the location of a septic tank pumpout access cover.
Pipes sticking up out of the ground, perhaps between 10' and 20' from the home, especially if they are 4" to 6" diameter cast iron
or white or black plastic, may mark vents or cleanouts on the waste line between the building and the septic tank, or they may mark the location
of the tank itself. Some septic pumping companies install a 6" top 8" "riser" pipe with a cap close to ground level (maybe painted green by
the homeowner) which they use as a quick access port to pump the septic tank. It's easy to see if one of these ports is right over the tank, if
one removes the pipe cap and peers inside, perhaps with a flashlight. (SAFETY WARNING: do not walk over or near septic tanks where there are
signs of impending collapse, such as soil subsidence).
Electrical boxes sticking up out of the ground might mark the location of electrical connections feeding electrical components
used in some septic systems. Examples include septic tanks using effluent pumps to move effluent to an uphill location, pumping chambers using
sewage grinder pumps to force sewage to an uphill septic tank and drainfield. A video showing a septic tank with a pumping station and its electrical connections is at Septic 101 part 1: Video on How to find the septic system
Rectangular depressions of perhaps 4 ft. x 8 ft. On the other hand, on rare occasions there may be a raised rectangular area if soils
settled away from the septic tank. This happened at one of our properties because the bottom of the septic tank
was sitting on bedrock and after backfill some soils around the tank settled and compacted but the tank didn't move a bit.
Rectangular areas of less grass growth - if the tank is not buried very deep there is less soil over it
Areas of more lush grass growth - if the tank is leaking or backing up and spilling effluent around itself, the grass will be greener around the septic tank.
Depressions in the soil of perhaps 2 sq.ft. that may mark a previous excavation for tank pumping
Snow melt: in climates where snow falls, areas of melted snow may mark the top of the septic tank (or areas of a failing leach field). A photo of this clue showing drainfield trenches as depressions in the snow can be seen at VisualClues to Location
Drawings or sketches of septic tank location are sometimes found in a building's basement or crawl space, sketched on a surface
near the point where the main waste pipe exits the building. And of course a thoughtful owner may have left a drawing on paper somewhere for the new owners. An example of a sketch locating septic system components is at RECORDS to LOCATE the DRAINFIELD.
Wet areas which may indicate a failing drainfield. Also septic odors.
Pipes ending in streams, lakes, or swamps, or at the edge of a property sometimes mark an overflow drain that was added to cope with a failing septic system. A photo of one of these is at UNLIKELY DRAINFIELD LOCATIONS
Clogged Drain Diagnosis - is the problem the septic system or the Building drain system? Septic Tank Safety: Septic System, Septic Tank, & Cesspool Safety Warnings for Septic Inspectors, Septic Pumpers, and Homeowners
Septic Tank Condition - How to Inspect Septic Tanks and evaluate the septic tank condition, baffles, sludge levels, damage, evidence of septic failure
Drainfield Layout: septic drainfield or leaching bed shape and placement considerations
Additional videos after this first one provide more details on how to find the septic system, septic tank, & septic drainfield See: SEPTIC VIDEOS.
Also see FIND the SEPTIC TANK, HOW TO for an article showing excavation and other methods to find the septic tank at a property. This article tells us how to locate a septic tank when it's placement is not already known or when the location of the septic tank is not visually obvious.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Advanced Onsite Wastewater Systems Technologies, Anish R. Jantrania, Mark A. Gross. Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A., is a Consulting Engineer, in Mechanicsville VA, 804-550-0389 (2006). Outstanding technical reference especially on alternative septic system design alternatives. Written for designers and engineers, this book is not at all easy going for homeowners but is a text I recommend for professionals--DF.
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.