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Photo of septic tank sludge and scum layer being broken up prior to septic tank cleanout.Q&A on Find The Septic Tank
FAQs tell how to locate a septic tank

  • SEPTIC TANK LOCATION FAQs - CONTENTS: questions & answers about how to locate the septic tank, cesspool, or drywell at a property
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about all methods for locating a septic tank, drywell, or cesspool as well as other septic system components such as the D-box and septic soakaway bed, leaching field, or drainfield.
  • REFERENCES
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Septic tank location FAQs:

Frequently-asked questions & answers about how to find the location of a septic tank.

This very detailed article series (seelinks listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article or below) tells how to locate a septic tank or other buried site components such as the distribution box, drainfield, or a cesspool or drywell when it's placement is not already known or when the location of the septic tank is not visually obvious.



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Q&A on How to Find the Septic Tank or Soakpit

PHOTO of how to record measurements to locate the septic tank cleanout cover.Watch out: for unsafe septic tank covers that can collapse - falling into a septic tank is usually fatal. Don't use a heavy iron wrecking bar to "probe" for the septic tank by jamming it aggressively into the soil. That's a good way to punch a hole in a steel septic tank lid, cause a tank cover to collapse,or to burst a buried pipe or break a toe. See SEPTIC TANK COVERS - important safety concerns.

Recently-posted questions & answers about how to find the septic tank, where to dig, where to look - these Q&As were posted originally at SEPTIC TANK, HOW TO FIND - home.

On 2017-04-04 16:30:08.514440 by (mod) re: how far apart are septic tank lid openings or access covers?

Milt:

On a rectangular concrete septic tank the tank typically has 2 or 3 openings, one at either end and perhaps one central opening - that may differ in multi-compartment tanks (more accesses). So the openings will be in a straight line across from one another.

Searching (using the search box above) for "Septic tank dimensions" finds SEPTIC TANK SIZE - http://inspectapedia.com/septic/Septic_Tank_Size_Tables.php
that includes a table of common septic tank dimensions that should show you how far apart the second tank opening will be on your septic tank.

On 2017-04-04 01:27:49.086776 by Milt

Found 1 lid and I know where the 2nd one location but not sure where to dig how far away are the lids and are they straight across from one another or diagonal

On 2017-03-24 20:22:13.135522 by (mod)

At my first house we found the septic tank when the backhoe ran over it and collapsed its cover.

There are ground scanning techinques though I think they work best with steel tanks.
Check out the live link at the start of this article
... on how we figure out where a septic tank could or could not be located, see SEPTIC VIDEOS.

Walking a site can often suggest where people would be most-likely to locate a septic tank or drainfield and other spots (next to the well) where that's unlikely.


On 2017-03-24 19:40:49.889576 by Anonymous

@danjoefriedman,
Thank you! We figured if there was one, we wouldn't be able to use it. We just want to figure out where it is located before we start digging and leveling the ground out. Again, thanks for help and advice!

On 2017-03-24 19:33:37.449549 by (mod)

My best suggestions for finding a septic tank are in the article above. To adapt those to a site where a house burned down years ago, if you can find the remains of the house foundation look for the main waste line exit point as a starting point.

My principal concern would not be the fantasy of finding useful septic components - that's not likely; rather I'd want to be sure that there are no un-discovered un-filled empty tank hazards: a collapse or someone falling into such a tank could cause injury or death.

On 2017-03-24 17:01:31.738231 by Chelcie Browning

My husband and I are wanting to purchase a cabin and put it on property that once had a house that burned down in the 1970s. How would I go about finding the septic tank if there is one? We don't know what the exact address was for the house that burned down but my father's house is right next to it and it is on his land. Please help!

On 2017-03-13 15:40:22.711975 by (mod)

Paul please see

SEPTIC TANK DEPTH http://inspectapedia.com/septic/Septic_Tank_Depth.php
and
SEPTIC TANK DESIGN DEPTH http://inspectapedia.com/septic/Septic_Tank_Design_Depth.php

Also see the full list of articles about finding the septic tank listed in the ARTICLE INDEX to SEPTIC SYSTEMS - live link given above at "More Reading"

On 2017-03-13 05:02:20.329740 by paul

how deep is the normal septic tank from the top of the ground?

On 2017-02-11 04:52:01.524390 by (mod)

Yilliang, 20 ft. is not an issue.

On 2017-02-11 04:51:39.319279 by (mod)

Re-posting without ad-link

Yilliang Peng said:
I did not know that it was an issue to have the septic tank more than 20 feet away from your building. I could only imagine that making it more difficult to connect with and for it to benefit you. This information is important for anyone who is thinking about getting a septic tank or may not know where to place theirs. Thanks for the great advice!

On 2016-12-17 16:35:19.837721 by Swept64

Clarify, 6 foot from back of the mobile home building not the property itself.

On 2016-12-17 16:33:09.496221 by Swept64

Depending on your areas building code, most mobile homes here in SC require the septeic tank to be 6 foot minimum from the back of the property. If you can try to determine where the back of the mobile home was start 6' out to probe. Here the septic tanks have been concrete, so a metal probe down 3 - 4 inches will usually hit the septic top. Look for entry of a black or white pvc plastic pipe into the ground. I am a homeowner that suggests this from our past experiences. The mobile home tie downs were still in the ground and they cut the porches off at ground level leaving 4 x 4 post stubs at ground level. Good luck.

On 2016-12-17 15:23:56.756743 by (mod)

Advice, Jenny, on finding old septic tanks or wells is in the article above.

I am sorry to say so but I would not assume that a 35 year old abandoned septic system is going to be usable. However finding the tank, and having it opened and inspected can provide key information such as tank materials and conditions. Let me know what you see when your septic contractor opens the tank.

On 2016-12-16 09:33:01.572454 by Jenny

I bought an old acre of land. There are no building structures now but 35 years ago, a septic system was inspected and approved by the locale health Dept. The only info I have found of yet is a copy of the inspection receipt with a map that shows a house that was never built but septic system was installed and passed inspection.

This map has no comprehenceable scale and is very confusing in trying to locate the septic system and shallow well. We do know it was in use after the inspection in 1986 for about 5 years when a mobile home was put on the land instead of building the proposed house. After that 5 yrs, the mobile home was removed, the well was marked with a pile of old bricks. Those bricks were moved 3 yrs ago when I first bought this acre.

In an attempt to kill as much razor grass as possible, I had someone turn the soil over with a tractor and that is when the bricks got scattered from the now unknown location that marked the well. I'm a 53 yr old widowed, single, disabled mom of a 15 yr old daughter and our resources are very limited.

My daughter and I are trying to rebuild our lives and make this acre our home after a horrible disaster. We can't afford to install a new system and well so our only option is to find the old 35 yr old system. Any info that u can provide to help us locate the septic and/or the well would be so gratefully appreciated. Please respond to Jenny Hill at jennjen63@gmail.com Heck, a phone call would be even better if y'all can do that?! Number is 251-518-5076. I'm in Mobile County, Alabama. Thank you so much in advance.

On 2016-12-16 05:39:31.248718 by Jessica

I bought some property it says there's a septic tank on the property but we can't find it . The property has a meter pole were there once was a mobile home on it. Is there anyway of finding the septic tank

On 2016-11-19 22:51:33.113081 by (mod)

John, typically there's an outdoor weatherproof junction box near the pump station, and often a separate D-box combining alarm and switches, in turn powered from the panel.

On 2016-11-19 13:43:55.933260 by John

Is there usually a distribution box with a mound system with pump station

On 2016-07-21 15:14:24.587842 by (mod)

Thanks NHF. I've run into this same situation, especially at older properties. Using septic dye during a septic loading and dye test I turned Wappingers Creek a bright red. After that I learned to always run down to the nearest body of water - if there is one - after inserting the dye and starting my test. I stand there and contemplate while I watch for spirals of red or green dye appearing in the water.

Bottom line: don't promise anything about buried systems, but do warn about common pitfalls for which there are on-site hints. Good SOP for an inspector who includes septic system is to ask the owner the age, history, and location of the septic system components.

If the owner says, "I've been here 25 years and we've never had a problem with the septic system and we've never done a THING to it" then we know to be pessimistic as the tank was never pumped - if there even is a tank.

It's also the case that a change of use, from a single elderly person to a family of 5 with young kids will often show up a septic failure 24-36 hours after the new owners move in.

On 2016-07-21 14:50:23.144334 by NHFirebear

We once inspected an old house in Vermont and wanted to "evaluate" the septic system. Couldn't find any signs of a septic tank. Turned out there was a tile pipe system buried all the way from the house down the hill, across a small cornfield and out to the bank of the Connecticut river -- a total of over 350 feet. It probably worked as well as it had when engineered and installed prior to 1933.

The sellers admitted they had been "planning" to get an approved septic system installed, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. Bottom line: there wasn't any septic tank to be found.

On 2016-07-15 15:36:30.491065 by (mod)

Thanks for the question, Marilyn but unlike the great Carno, I can't say by t-text what buried components are at the property nor where they are. The article above as well as a separate one on HOW TO FIND THE SEPTIC DRAINFIELD (find by searching InspectApedia for that phrase) describe what experts typically do to find these components:

- visual inspection for where a tank and soakaway be would physically fit
- visual inspection for clues such as depressions in the ground surface - or mounds
- tracking using plumbing drain finding tools (snake and electronic detector) beginning at the building where a drain line can be located

On 2016-07-15 02:04:20.668277 by Marilyn

I am thinking on buying 2 acres and there is a septc tank on the land but I can't fine it . But a little farther is a building with some kind of pipes in it with it looks like some kind of systems in it what is that can it be well water or what the pipes were at some time ripped but it looks like animals roped of the rising can you tell me what it that .I have no experience on things like that thank you Marilyn

On 2016-02-21 15:52:30.086855 by (mod)

Steph

You cannot "lower" the waste pipes connected to the septic tank as then they would not drain into it. So you'd have to add backfill. Take care not to add backfill that puts building siding closer than 8" to the ground surface lest you create a termite hazard.

On 2016-02-21 15:09:33.780863 by stephanie

I found my septic tank, but the tank and main pipes are above ground, what can be done to bury the pipes but still have a working system

On 2015-11-06 17:31:30.620590 by (mod)

Stan my best suggestions for finding a septic tank are organized in the article above. If you cant' stand reading through my prose, near the top of this article you'll see a link for SEPTIC VIDEOS that will walk you through how I look for a septic tank on-site.

On 2015-11-05 19:47:53.194753 by Stan

buying a piece of property that had an old house on it at one time, house was razed, owner of property says there is no septic tank on property and never was. House was never hooked up to city sewer or water. How can I locate if there is a tank any records etc...any help appreciated
thanks you

On 2015-09-29 04:23:12.230004 by Jane

My septic tech was probing to find the cover and pierced a hole in the tank. What happens next? As a homeowner, what should I do.

On 2015-07-26 23:15:27.756626 by Anonymous

im try to find my septic tank

On 2015-06-04 10:05:55.530550 by (mod)

Re-posting

Edmond Vandergraff said:
I just wanted to say that I am really glad that I found this article. My wife and I just moved into a new home that is about 30 years old. We were having trouble finding information about the septic tank. This article pretty much summed up my questions.

On 2014-10-06 04:15:39.457590 by (mod)

Rick that's a question for your local building department, but before giving those folks a call I'd think about making the question more specific. You want to be clear if you are asking about property line setbacks, well distances, tank construction, size, etc.

More important, for an older system you'd want to know its safety (safe covers for example) and operating condition.

On 2014-10-05 01:39:19.097870 by rick

are septic taks grandfathered in wyo if built prior to epa>>deq??

On 2014-05-12 15:14:03.520220 by (mod)

Al,

It's not uncommon for an older home to suffer from confused public records about its connection to public sewer for all or part of its wastewater drainage.

A septic tank is always full in normal operation. When there's a backup it's because of some other failure: a failed drainfield or a blocked pipe. When the property owner is facing significant repair costs such as that of a new drainfield, that's the time to go ahead and connect to the now-available public sewer instead. At that time one would properly abandon the septic tank by having it pumped out and filled-in.

Daniel

On 2014-05-12 14:43:24.911360 by al

i bought a house recently,on my disclosure it says i have city sewer,but i discovered from local plumber with the use of video camera that my basement toilet drained into a septic tank which was full and backing up into my basement.plumber could not find a clean out for it but was able to locate part of it under a cement slab and the addition of my house.what to do .do i leave it alone or do i somehow get it removed.house was built in the 50's.

Question: so how do I find the septic tank

(Dec 27, 2012) connie said:

i do not know where my septic is.i just bought this home and the people before me can not be found.the house was built in 1997 it is now 2013 when does it need to be treated?i have a big front yard and back yard,and i want to build a deck.

(Mar 18, 2014) Dwight Dove said:

I am buying 5 acres of land and know that a septic tank is on the property but do not know where it is. How can I find it?

Reply:

Dwight, have you reviewed the suggestions in the septic tank location article above?
If you knew nothing about a site you'd look at reasonable locations where a tank could fit and where there are not mature trees, away from a well, etc. as suggested above.

Question: septic tank distance from the house?

(Apr 8, 2014) Natalie said:

does anyone know how far your septic tank needs to be away from your house?

Reply:

Sure Natalie,

Near the top of this article click on the "Click to Show or Hide Related Topics"

then click on the article titled

CLEARANCE DISTANCES, SEPTIC SYSTEM

for the details you need

Question:

5/12/14 Al said:

i bought a house recently,on my disclosure it says i have city sewer,but i discovered from local plumber with the use of video camera that my basement toilet drained into a septic tank which was full and backing up into my basement.plumber could not find a clean out for it but was able to locate part of it under a cement slab and the addition of my house.what to do .do i leave it alone or do i somehow get it removed.house was built in the 50's.

Reply:

Al,

It's not uncommon for an older home to suffer from confused public records about its connection to public sewer for all or part of its wastewater drainage.

A septic tank is always full in normal operation. When there's a backup it's because of some other failure: a failed drainfield or a blocked pipe. When the property owner is facing significant repair costs such as that of a new drainfield, that's the time to go ahead and connect to the now-available public sewer instead. At that time one would properly abandon the septic tank by having it pumped out and filled-in.

...


Continue reading at SEPTIC TANK, HOW TO FINDif you are looking for its location, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see DISTANCE TO SEPTIC TANK - what are the clearance distances required between a septic tank and other things?

Or see HOW TO OPEN a SEPTIC TANK if you have found the septic tank an dare inspecting or servicing the septic tank

Or see POSSIBLE SEPTIC TANK LOCATIONS - finding a septic tank includes ruling in and out where it might be

Or see SEPTIC TANK DEPTH - how deep might the septic tank be buried anyway?

Also see SEPTIC DRAINFIELD LOCATION.

Or see SEPTIC TANK LOCATING EQUIPMENT - plumbing snakes, electronic pipe tracing equipment, etc.

Or see SEPTIC TANK SNOWMELT

Or see TABLE of REQUIRED SEPTIC & WELL CLEARANCE DISTANCES

Or see VISUAL CLUES LOCATE the SEPTIC TANK

If you prefer to watch a video on how we figure out where a septic tank could or could not be located, see SEPTIC VIDEOS.

Suggested citation for this web page

SEPTIC TANK LOCATION FAQs at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to SEPTIC SYSTEMS

Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


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