Part of establishing a maintenance plan and schedule for your home includes knowing where your septic system is located, or more specifically, your tank cover. It’s important to know when the last time your septic system was serviced as well as where to find it when it’s time. After all, how can you service your system if you don’t know where it is?
So, what does the tank cover look like?
You should be on the lookout for something that looks like this:
However, it’s not always that simple and sometimes the septic tank cover is buried underground. In that case, there are a several ways to find your septic tank.
How to find your septic tank
Here are a few tips to help you easily locate your septic system and pinpoint the septic tank cover:
- Start Low. Start in your basement by locating the 4 inch pipe leaving your home. This is your main waste line and it’s exit direction will indicate the general location of your tank.
- Go High. Look on your roof for vent pipe. This pipe will usually line up with your waste pipe and thus your septic system so it is another good point of reference.
- Probe. Use a small metal rod to probe the ground every 2 feet in the direction indicated by your waste exit pipe and roof vent. Keep in mind that a septic tank must be more than 5 feet from your home and is usually more like 10-25 feet away. The lid can be buried anywhere from 4 inches to 4 feet underground depending on the age of your home. If you are on a hill it is possible the system was set up to use the natural land contours to aid drainage.
- Check Health Department Records. Your local health department is only a short drive away and can provide detailed maps of your septic system called “As-Built Drawings”. These drawings show exact dimensions and details of your septic system and should be an accurate guide to help you find your tank access.
- Call a Professional. You should not open the cover to your septic tank without a trained professional. While it is not dangerous to open the lid, it can be very heavy and you can potentially chip or damage the lid. This can compromise the seal on the tank and cost you money in repairs. Furthermore, opening the lid means risking a fall, and any accident where you fall into a septic tank can result in serious or even fatal injuries as a result of noxious fumes.