What To Do If You Can't Find Your Septic Tank


Most newer septic tank systems have what are called "risers"—a lidded access port to the tank at ground level that makes locating and pumping the septic tank easier. However, if you have an older tank, you may not have a riser, and it will be necessary to dig down to find the tank lid. So what can you do if you don't know where your septic tank is?

Anyone you hire to pump out your septic tank will be able to locate it for you as well. But the more difficult it is for them to find, the more expensive it may be. So even if you can't pinpoint the location of your tank, it's a good idea to try to get at least a rough location to make the pumper's job easier (and faster).

Check Your Public Health Department

In many areas, the local public health department keeps maps of installed septic systems. Contact your health department and see if they have a map, sometimes called a septic as-built, for your address. Some municipalities even store these maps electronically and offer access online. If there's a septic as-built available for your home, it will be easy for you or your septic tank pumping service to use it to dig up the tank lid.


If you think you have an idea of where the tank is and you want to be sure, you can probe through the ground with a tile probe, which you can purchase at most hardware or home improvement stores. However, you must probe very gently for your septic tank if it might be constructed of fiberglass or polyethylene, as you might damage it. And if your tank is more than a few feet underground, you will not be able to find it this way.

Look For Ground Signs

Often, you can get a rough sense of where your tank is by the effect it has on your yard. Remembering that your tank will probably be at least ten feet away from your home, look for areas where the grass grows either faster or more slowly than the rest of the yard for no apparent reason. This can be a sign of the septic drain field, which would mean your tank is nearby.

If you live in an area with snowy winters, you can also think of whether there's a spot in your yard where the snow melts first. The septic tank produces warmth underground, so the area above it is often the first place you see bare ground when snow melts.

Get An Electronic Transmitter

If no other method works, you can use a radio transmitter flushed down the toilet to locate your tank. However, this is likely the method your septic pumper will use if your tank is particularly difficult to find, so unless you are able to borrow a transmitter from someone, it's probably not worth the expense of buying one yourself. Instead, ask your pumper to locate your tank, and then be sure to have a riser installed to make pumping easier in the future.


19 June 2015

preventing septic tank overflows

Moving into the country was something that I had always dreamed of doing, but when it finally became a reality, I had to learn an important lesson the most difficult way. I found out that the big mound in my yard was a part of the septic system and when a septic system is not properly cared for, it can back up into your home. That was an incident that I never wanted to relive. After the days of cleanup were complete, I began learning everything that I could about maintaining my septic system. Go through my blog to learn what you need to do to ensure you don't have to go through the horrifying mess that I did.