If you live on a property with a septic tank, then it is only a matter of time before it needs to be serviced. This can easily lead to a common conundrum — finding the tank’s lid. A lot of care goes into septic tank design and installation, and one of the key features is to make the whole thing inconspicuous. If you didn’t install the system or have it marked well, then this can be a source of much frustration. Fortunately, we are here to show you the easiest and most reliable methods for finding the access point to your tank.
First and foremost, you want to consult records. Most septic installations are registered with the county, so you should be able to find a detailed map that will help you pinpoint the lid. The records are usually so detailed that you can measure your way to the exact location. This practice has not been standard forever though, so if you have an older system, it may not work for you.
Every septic tank is attached to the main sewage line from your home. You can trace this line from its base at the house to the tank’s location. While you might consider pulling the shovels out to put this method to work, an easier option is to use a metal rod to probe the ground for the line as you follow it. In most cases, you will find the tank 10 to 25 feet from the house, and it will be made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene, so you can use your ears to help identify it.
We mentioned earlier that the lids are designed to be hidden. If you don’t have a map or have trouble following the sewage line, you can look for signs in the ground that will lead you to the tank. Small hills or pits that seem at all out of place are your best bet. Septic tanks are usually in the ballpark of 40 square feet, so even if grass or other vegetation has regrown, the installation of such a large tank will leave a permanent deformity in the earth.
If these methods still leave you searching, you can always enlist the aid of a seasoned professional. Ultimately you will need their services to clean, drain or repair the tank anyways, and opening the lid yourself can be extremely dangerous. In any case, once the lid has been properly located, you can save yourself future troubles by marking it permanently. Options range from heavy rocks or tiles to magnetic transmitters that can be identified by a receiver. Pick something that can last and you will only have to fight this battle once.