POSSIBLE SEPTIC TANK LOCATIONS - CONTENTS: A Guide to Possible Septic Tank Locations helps us determine how to find the septic tank and drainfield
. Where to look for the septic tanks, septic tank covers, or septic tank cleanout lids. How to find the septic tank - where to look
How to Find the Septic Tank by Looking Outside the Building
The photo at page top shows a terrible way to find the septic tank - by driving over it and getting stuck. A survey of a building site for locations that could reasonably be expected to house a septic tank or drainfield is a useful step in understanding where septic components could be buried.
POSSIBLE TANK LOCATIONS - Site Conditions Determine Possible Septic Tank Locations
If you have no idea what a septic system is, see the "More Reading" articles below. If you have a general picture
of what the typical septic system components are, how big they are, and how they are connected together, you can have a reasonable
idea about where these items might even fit at a property.
[Click to enlarge any image]
In the example shown at left, our client is pointing to an area of obvious fill across the yard in front of his new home.
Everywhere else at this home site was thick with trees and also was swampy. The septic system tank and fields were almost certainly going to be in this (improperly prepared) mounded area.
Look in the distant photo at
the original grade and you'll see that the contractor put the mound in a natural swale which turned out to be a natural creek - the system lacked sufficient fill soil - effluent moved from the leach field
to the stream the contractor had buried, and simply appeared at the end of the mound. But that's another story.
Look around the building site with these septic tank location tips in mind
The septic tank is probably on the property - though in unusual cases such as the subdivision of a family property it might be on the neighbor's land.
See SEPTIC CLEARANCE DISTANCES
Septic tanks need space to be buried-in, normally eight feet or more of soil, though special "low boy" tanks can be placed in
as little as four feet of soil and advanced wastewater treatment systems can be above ground entirely. (You won't have trouble
seeing advanced aboveground systems.
See SEPTIC TANK DESIGN DEPTH
See SEPTIC TANK DEPTH for a discussion of soil depth to the top of an installed septic tank
Often septic tanks are located close to buildings (perhaps 10 feet away) in areas where there appears to be space for the tank and adequate soil depth, but
at a problem site such as a house built on a rock cliff or on a steep slope, the tank may have been located at some distance. Look for
other property areas which are not thickly populated with mature trees. (It would be foolish to plant trees over the septic components but people
may do so.
But at a fairly modern site, the excavator digging to place the septic tank won't have jammed her backhoe among huge old close-together
Shown at above-left: an easy-to-access septic tank riser at a property we inspected in Norway.
Look for the septic tank (and drain fields) downhill from the building: unless a pumping system is installed (you should find switches, alarms, wires), the septic system is working by gravity. The tank
will not normally be far uphill from the building.
Look for the septic tank uphill from the building: if a pumping system is installed the tank may be anywhere, but still we needed space and soil depth to locate it. If there
is an obviously "constructed" area of earth fill (a mound system) serving as a probable leach field, the tank may be at the near (to building)
end of that mound.
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