How to Find a Septic Tank in Your Yard

By Robert Jones May 29, 2023
Photo by Peter Idowu

Over time, vegetation can obscure the location of septic tanks so that their presence is less apparent. Checking public records may help as home inspection reports typically include diagrams depicting each property’s septic system.

A plumbing snake can also come in handy; thread it through a sewer pipe until it stops moving – that indicates you may have found the entrance of your septic tank inlet.

1. Use a Metal Detector

One effective method for finding your septic tank in your yard is with the aid of a metal detector, available from many home improvement stores and available to rent or buy. A metal detector works by emitting sounds when it hits different metal objects in the ground; some devices also feature display screens with information regarding what has been discovered. Once you’ve located it, mark its position with something such as lawn ornaments to make finding it again easier in future visits.

Method two for finding your septic tank involves tracking its sewer line. This should begin in either your basement or crawl space where these lines exit your house and continue outside to follow it with soil probes placed every two feet or so along its route, until you feel when they encounter surfaces that indicate where there is likely a septic tank is hiding.

Septic tank detection snakes can also help. Just insert one into the sewer line, and follow its path until it stops, noting how far out it went and any bends it encountered. Once you know where it could be hiding, mark its position with something such as lawn ornaments or spray paint to make future identification simpler.

2. Follow the Sewer Pipes

Finding your septic tank may require following sewer lines from your house to the tank itself. If your town or county keeps records of building permits, these documents might include a map or diagram displaying its exact location; in such cases, mark its position using lawn ornaments or small signs so it’s easy for routine maintenance tasks and when it comes time for you to pump out your system.

See also  The Dos and Donts of Septic Tank Service

Even without access to any records or paperwork for inspection purposes, it is still possible to locate your septic tank by following its sewer pipes. Every drain in your home connects directly to a sewer line which often leads directly out to your septic tank. If no clues can be found in your yard, try walking around its perimeter searching for pipes about four inches in diameter that might lead you there.

Try poking around with a metal probe to locate your tank. Most tanks are located about 10-25 feet from the house, so this should be no difficulty at all if one is nearby. As you investigate your yard, pay special attention to any spots that seem greener or healthier than others; this could indicate that a septic tank could be nearby providing nutrients to the grass. However, be cautious not to probe too deeply, as some tanks could be buried underground; you should only probe two feet from sewer pipe at any one time.

3. Toe the Line

Septic tanks are typically located underground and designed to remain out of sight, making spotting them challenging if you’re new to the property. You can use your sewer line as a guide, as well as probe the soil every two feet with a thin metal probe (known as “soil probe”). Beginning where your sewer pipe leaves your home and moving across your yard using your “soil probe”, start probing until you locate one–most are between 10-25 feet from home and shouldn’t come closer than five feet.

Look out for small mounds, divots or hills in your yard which could indicate where a tank may be hidden beneath. Also look out for patches of greener or healthier grass that could indicate where there may be an underground storage tank located.

See also  RootX Vs Copper Sulfate

Some septic pumpers have an uncanny knack of finding otherwise invisible tanks. According to local legend, Zarzar has special abilities that enable him to use a 30-foot metal tape that he sticks down your toilet and feels for turns in your pipes, before using advanced algebra to pinpoint where your septic tank resides.

Once you’ve found your septic tank, be sure to mark it so you can easily locate it again in the future. Use a patio paver, garden gnome or large rock as markers near the tank; these should be sturdy enough not to blow away in windy weather or be moved by children playing in your yard. Alternatively, create a map or diagram illustrating where it is situated for future reference.

4. Look Around the Yard

As time passes and grass grows, it can become increasingly challenging to detect signs that point towards a septic tank. But taking the time and care to look carefully through your yard may make this task simpler than expected; often the first sign will be an apparent divot or hill in your lawn caused by builders covering over an insufficient hole dug for a septic tank with dirt to hide the indication.

Once you have narrowed down the area, you can start exploring for the septic tank location by placing metal soil probes every two feet or so into the ground. Septic tanks typically sit 10-25 feet from your home; anything closer than five feet must be considered a violation.

Modern septic tanks generally feature two polyethylene or fiberglass lids centered at either end of the tank; older septic tanks typically only feature one concrete lid. A greener or healthier lawn near your septic tank could also indicate its location.

If none of these methods work to locate your septic tank, it might be worth consulting property records or the local health department for help in creating your own map and making future maintenance and cleaning of the system simpler.

See also  Choosing the Right Septic Tank Drain Field Layout

When creating a map of your septic tank, mark its location with an ornament or temporary marker that can easily be removed when access is needed to the tank. Doing this will allow you to remember where your tank is and schedule cleaning and pumping services more easily.

5. Create a Map

If you can’t locate any clues that point toward the location of your septic tank, maps may provide assistance. Your county or municipality should maintain a map showing where every address in their jurisdiction has septic tanks installed; or check home inspection paperwork or the house deed to see if there’s record of one at your property address.

Once you have an idea of where the tank may be hidden, walk around your yard looking for any unexplained high or low spots in your soil. Since septic tanks typically sit five feet from homes, expect to spot small hills or mounds within five feet. If the tank was improperly buried too shallowly, there may also be patches of grass struggling to grow around it.

Unother telltale sign of a septic tank’s location in your yard would be an area smelling unpleasant; its contents often leak out through the sewer line and travel through the soil and subsoil into nearby vegetation, polluting its delicate ecosystem.

With the aid of a snake and metal detector, it may be possible to trace the path of the drain line to locate your septic tank. While you snake the pipe, make note of its length and any turns. Once located, use a metal probe to pinpoint its exact location; once found mark its exact spot with lawn ornaments, spray paint or signs to easily locate it again in future visits and contact a pumping truck service to have it professionally serviced and cleaned out.

Related Post