Many new rural homeowners are unfamiliar with septic tanks, and their first step in learning the basics about a septic system and its maintenance is to locate its exact location on their property. There are several ways this can be accomplished, from simple methods to those using sophisticated technology:
1. The home inspection report. This report should be available to the buyer of any property and contain detailed information about where the septic tank is located. Its condition should also have been noted in the report, along with any recommendations for maintenance or repairs. Many states require specific disclosures upon the sale of a property, including those related to “subsurface sewage disposal systems,” commonly known as septic tank systems. Time of Sale documents should be accessible on the county website, and should contain details on how deep the septic system is buried on the property, the location of the septic tank and how large the septic tank or tanks are.
2. Local health department. County health department records will often include information about building permits that contain dimensions and diagrams that show the distance from the home the septic tank is. In addition, they may contain information on how large the septic tank is, and how it is positioned on the property. By contacting their local health department, homeowners can obtain a survey map of their property and also a septic tank map.
3. Check for “risers.” Septic tank risers are utilized to assist with the location of the septic tank for maintenance purposes. They are visible in the yard, commonly within ten feet of the house. A septic tank riser is a pipe that connects the underground septic tank to the ground level surface of the yard. The riser extends to the septic tank at the pump-out openings or access port. The lids on septic tank risers are easily removed for inspection and pumping purposes without major disruption to the yard. They are usually made of plastic or concrete to hold up under extreme weather conditions. If the home is relatively newer construction, it probably has septic tank risers, and if it doesn’t, they can be added later to the system at the same time routine maintenance is performed. This will save significant time and money in the long run since the riser is visible above the surface of the yard to facilitate the maintenance crew finding it without spending a lot of time and effort.
4. Use a probe tool. Most septic tanks are buried between twenty-five and thirty-five inches below ground level, so they can be found using a manual method with a “soil” or “probe” tool. These are made of solid steel with a sharp end with a handle on top. Probe tools are available in multiple lengths, but most experts recommend one that is forty-eight inches. Before starting to poke holes in their yard, homeowners should look for a few clues first. For example, if the home has a basement, they can check where the sewer exits the basement wall–the septic tank will probably be located approximately ten to fifteen feet out into the yard. They can also check on the roof for a vent that is right on top of the sewer, and the septic tank is most likely straight out from there. Homeowners should be cautious, however, not to begin probing their yard without first identifying where any phone, electrical, gas or water lines to the house are located to avoid causing damage. This is why this service is best left to a professional like uneek septic services. We can provide this service along with installing risers and lids so that customers know where their lids are located going forward. It will also provide easy access when you need your septic tank pumped.
5. Consider Google Earth Pro. Using a laptop or desktop computer, Google Earth Pro is a free download that will show the homeowner their property, going back over the years with several views. From those photographs, it is sometimes possible to detect where the original septic system was installed or serviced, based on the disruption of the yard.
6. If all else fails, go high-tech. Some of the newest methods for finding that elusive septic tank include flushing a special radio transmitter down a bathroom toilet and using a sensing device to determine its location as it travels through the pipes to the septic tank. Or a special dye can also be flushed down the toilet, then tracked all the way to the septic tank and into the drain field if needed.
Once the location of the septic tank is found, homeowners should draw a map of the spot. It’s also highly recommended that it be marked. This doesn’t have to be done with orange plastic flags – it can be accomplished inconspicuously with a few strategically placed potted plants, and will greatly aid the search in the future.