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You may think it is easy to keep track of something on your property as large as a septic tank but if your septic tank lid is buried underground, as they often are, it may be more difficult to locate than you think. Knowing where your septic tank is located on your property is an important part of regular maintenance. Eventually, all septic tanks will fill up and need to be pumped. When your tanks lid is not easy to find, you might not have a clue on how or where to find the lid. Most septic tanks are installed to be as inconspicuous as possible, so it is typically very difficult to find it on your own.

There are certain dangers associated with locating your septic tank, which is why this task is best left to the professionals. Old septic systems can collapse, and leaking systems can spread bacterial or viral infections from unsanitary conditions if you remove the lids yourself.

In some cases, particularly if you are not the home’s original owner, you may not have any idea as to where the lids are located. If your property is particularly large, that further complicates matters. Below are some simple tips that may help you locate your septic tank lids.


Why You Need to Know the Location of The Septic Tank

  • Safety and Maintenance

The first reason why you want to find your septic tank is that knowing its location allows you to maintain and care for it properly. You never want to build or place heavy items on top of the septic tank. And you do not want to park your car or truck there, nor do you want visitors to your home to park their vehicles on top of it. The weight of the cars might put too much pressure on the tank and cause it to collapse.

  • Repairs

In case it needs repairs or there is a septic system malfunction, you will need to find the location of the tank.

  • Pumping

When there is a need for pumping or cleaning, you will have to find the location of the septic tank.

  • Landscaping

It is possible for roots to grow into the pipes of your septic system, leading to clogs. When you know where the tank is located, you can plan your landscape design so that only shallow-rooted plants, like grass, are nearby. 

  • Selling Your Property

In case you are selling your property, you must know the position of the septic tank. This is necessary as the whole property will get inspected.


Finding the Septic Tank

If you are confident that there are no issues, then the following tips will help you locate your tank lid:


  • Check the Map

The easiest and most sure way to find your tank lid is to consult the map, if you have one. If you recently purchased the property, this map should be included with your home inspection paperwork. If not, you can request the map from the county. This is usually a diagram that shows the precise location of the tank. You can even find the exact spot where the septic tank is located. If it is a new property, you will find the septic tank location details in the inspection papers.

Most counties keep records of building permits, including the installation of septic systems on a particular piece of property. Typically, these “As-builts” contain a diagram with dimensions that can help you locate the septic tank on your property. A diagram of your septic system may also be included as part of your home inspection when you purchased the property. If you are able to get a hold of your home’s as-built drawing, be sure to look at the relative orientations of the tank and your house, and the distance from the tank to the side of the house that the sewer exits. Don’t forget that landmarks may change over time depending on when the tank was installed.


  • Follow the Pipes

In the event that there is no map, do not worry. You will just have to follow the sewer pipes that are leading out of your home. 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. Your septic tank and drainfield are typically installed parallel to the sewer line that extends from your home into the yard. In your home’s basement or crawl space, you may be able to locate a 4-inch sewer pipe where it leaves the house that can lead the way to your septic system. Follow the pipe across the yard by probing every 2 feet or so. Septic tanks are required to be at least 5 feet from the house, although most are between 10 and 25 feet away.


  • Use a Metal Probe

As you follow the pipes leaving your house, you can use a thin probe which is also known as a soil probe. You can keep probing every two feet in search of the septic tank. Usually, the septic tanks are constructed between 10 to 25 feet from your house.

The tank will not be located very close to your property. While using a probe, you might strike hard on a flat surface; it can be polyethylene or even fiberglass. Once you strike something like that, you have successfully located the tank.


  • Look For Signs

If, for some reason, you do not have access to a map or you have the map but are still having trouble following the sewage line, you can look for signs in the ground. Septic tanks are generally about 40 square feet, so even in the presence of grass or other vegetation; such a large tank will leave even a slight deformity in the ground.

With the passage of time, septic tanks have grass grown on them and it gets tough to find the exact location of the septic tank as they get hidden below the grass and shrubs. However, if this happens, it does not mean that you will not be able to find it. When you are inspecting the yard, there are a few places, where you do not have to search for your septic tank.


These places are:

  • Under any paved surface or the driveway
  • Beside the well, in case there is a well in the compound
  • Not around big trees or wall
  • Not very close to the house. The septic tank will be located at a distance of minimum five feet.


Clues to Find Your Septic Tank:

  • Look for an unusual mound of earth or a hill which indicated the presence of a septic tank around the property.
  • Look for unusual greenery in any area. If you find that there is a section of the yard where grass grows oddly fast, the septic tank might be present there.
  • If you see a bald patch in the yard, it might be due to the septic tank. The tank might not be properly and the grass couldn’t grow there naturally.


  • Ask Your Neighbors

If your neighbors also have septic systems, they can help you figure out where your tank is hiding. Ask your neighbors where their septic tanks are in relation to their houses. Usually houses in the same neighborhood follow a certain pattern.


What to Do After You Find Your Septic Tank

Once you have located your tank, it is time to call in the professionals. But before you call in a team of professional plumbers, there are a few things you can do to make sure others do not have the same problem finding the tank and to make finding the tank in the future easier.


1. Mark Its Location

You do not need to put up a big sign in your yard marking your septic tank, but you do want to leave some kind of marker so that you can find the tank and the lid easily when you need it. Ideally, the marker will be heavy enough that it does not blow away in the wind and cannot be moved easily by children playing in the yard. You can also create a map or diagram showing its location. Keep the map or diagram with your household documents for future reference.


2. Maintain Your Septic Tank

It might cost a few hundred dollars every few years to maintain your system, but that can save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs later on. Be sure to have a professional out to inspect your system and keep up with the recommended pumping schedule. Maintenance also includes not flushing anything that is not meant to be flushed, such as a paper towels, facial tissues and cat litter. In the kitchen, do not send solid foods, cooking oil or medications down the sink drain.


3. Call a Professional

Septic system maintenance is not typically a do-it-yourself project. Whether your septic tank needs to be pumped or cleaned or you are looking to replace the tank at your Southern California home, you want to call on the services of a professional plumbing company.



Call West Coast Sanitation Today!

If the above methods still leave you searching for your tank lid, you can always enlist the aid of a seasoned professional. You will ultimately need their services to pump or repair the tank anyway, and opening the lid yourself can be extremely dangerous. In any case, once you determine where your septic system is located, be sure to keep the location in your records or mark the area clearly and permanently to save yourself future headaches.

At West Coast Sanitation, we know that you don’t have time to deal with septic problems. If you think that your system has reached capacity, please give us a call right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions and get your system working properly again.

Call us at (951) 780-5922 right away. We have professionals ready to answer your questions.