How to find your Septic Tank at Home
Have you ever stopped to wonder what happens to the stuff you flush down the toilet?
Kind of gross to think about, right?
If you’re conjuring up images of cobwebby crawlspaces with lots of creepy-crawly unmentionable creatures sliding, slithering, creeping, or crawling over crusty, rusty, ooey-gooey piping which is oozing out slimy goo from every joint, you may not be too far off. I hope you are. Especially if I’m the lucky guy you call to come fix your toilet that just doesn’t want to flush.
That’s why I want to help teach you how to find your septic tank. If your toilet, sink, or bathtub begins to gurgle, burp, belch, or starts emitting other kinds of strange noises or odors, (Or even worse, Liquids!), don’t panic. Just call 911 and calmly ask for help.
Or better yet, read this blog to find out where in the earth your septic tank might be hiding.
Septic tanks are known for their uncanny abilities to win most games of hide-and-seek with the average human competitor.
Many are the embarrassed humans who have endured the questioning stares, or peeking through the blinds by neighbors who watch with growing concern as they wander aimlessly around the yard, peering behind the bushes, prodding under the flowers, kneeling for a better look under the back deck, gingerly poking at the driveway, all while calling out “Here septic tanky tanky tanky!” And they wonder who to call for help when, after hours spent poking, prodding, stroking, and calling, the neighbor shakes his fist at the sky and disappears into the house muttering and shaking his head, only to reappear a few minutes later and begin to repeat the process with the same results.
The good news is…I can give you a few tips that may help you win the game on how to find your septic tank, gain the respect of your neighbors, and quite possibly turn you into the neighborhood expert on Septic Tank Locating!
Contrary to popular belief, septic tanks Usually do not hide in attics, basements, or any of the many closets you may have in your home.
We will start with the easiest scenario first.
Grab your favorite drink and relax in your favorite spot for a minute. Now gradually start your normal brain functions, but direct them towards your yard. Yes, that’s right, your yard. Forget all about the toilet. Or sink. Or tub. Or whatever it is that is
the root of that panic rising in your chest. Your yard.
Septic tanks will usually be located in one of your yards. One of the first clues will be the location of your well. Your well? Yes, your well.
The septic tank should not be in close proximity to your well.
So wherever your well is located, you can rule out that area first. Your septic tank will likely be on one of the other sides of the house.
Now that we have ruled out the area with the well, let’s think of some other things. Septic tanks are normally installed with their tops buried under the surface of the ground, usually submerged at least 12 inches or so. Sometimes the depth can be much greater, or a little less. Often there will be a plastic access tube or a concrete riser structure which extends from the top of the tank to the ground surface to allow access for the tank to be emptied by a Septic Pumping company…AKA Shankster Bros.
Many septic tank installers will attempt to blend these access risers into the surrounding landscaping so they don’t create an ugly eyesore.
So the next step is to go over your yard in your mind, searching for any round, plastic lids. These may be black or green and may be from 10 inches to 24 inches in diameter. Secondly, if that comes up negative, think about any round, square, or rectangular concrete lids that may be in your yard or landscaping. Often these will be nearly flush with the surface of the ground so that a lawnmower or rake could go right over the top of it without damaging it.
Start in the areas of your yard closest to your house, and work outwards from the perimeter of your house. Usually, the septic tank access will not be closer than 10 feet to your house, but sometimes in the case of an older home or a later addition to the home, they may be closer.
If you have not been able to locate the septic tank yet, we may need to leave the couch, and go downstairs. Hopefully, you have a basement. Otherwise, you may need to peek in the crawlspace. If your house has no basement or crawlspace, we will use some other clues.
Now that you are in the basement or crawlspace, try to identify the main drainage pipes that carry the wastewater from all your bathrooms and kitchen. These should all converge into one larger pipe, (Usually 4″ in diameter), and exit the house through one of the walls. Identify which wall the pipe exits, and try to estimate the approximate location and the direction the pipe is going outside your house. Now go outside.
Check the area where the pipe comes out of the house. There may be a PVC pipe extending to the surface, with a threaded cleanout cap on it. If you find this, you’re well on the way to victory.
If your house is built on a slab, with no basement or crawlspace, look at the roof. Look for a vent pipe coming out of the roof. Often the piping inside your house will have a vent that runs straight up, all the way through the roof, and sticks out the top. If you locate that vent, it may give you an idea where the piping is exiting the house.
Now continue outward from the house a few feet, looking for that round, square, or rectangular lid. If you can’t find it, look for an area in the yard that may be slightly sunken. Sometimes skillful installers may use round or square patio stones to conceal the access port. If you see one of those, you might try checking under there in case it is covering the access.
If you have been experiencing problems with the toilet or other fixtures draining, you may also want to look for an area that is more damp or wet than the rest of the yard. This could be where your tank is hiding. If all of these tips have not brought you to victory, and you start to notice your neighbors peeking through the blinds with those worried looks that neighbors are so prone to….give us a call!