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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    1

    Unhappy Where is my septic tank?

    My husband and I purchased our home 4 years ago. As part of the process we were told that the septic tank had been pumped. We were under the impression that with proper usage it would only need to be pumped every 5 years or so.
    Flash forward we are having all kinds of plumbing trouble in the house that can be linked to you guessed it that old tank needs pumped badly. Well I took the plumber to the spot where the former homeowner told us the clean-out was located...after digging down about 3 feet we agreed that it could not be there, and if it is, the system is 1)older than we were led to believe and 2)had not just been pumped 5 years ago.
    All of this being said I know we are just going to have to swallow the cost and pay for them to bring a back hoe in, but is there a way that I can do the locate myself without any special equipment?
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,509

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    I'd start by calling the local septic tank installers and ask if any of them remember who installed yours.

    If that doesn't work I'd call the local building dept to see if they have plans of your house construction.

    If that doesn't work I'd ask what were the septic codes in place when your house was built, as that may give you an indication of where they put it.

    If that doesn't work and all the houses are the same, then ask a neighbor who has been there since the beginning. They will enjoy having the chat, as their children never call or stop by any more.

    If that doesn't work find a plumber who has pipe locating tools. The real nifty ones have sonar type sensing to "see through the dirt" This will be cheaper than blindly digging with a backhoe.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,419

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    "The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank" Erma Bombeck.

    There are a couple of ways that the septic tank service people find the tank. First is to find the clean outs, PVC or cast Iron, 4" diameter pipes with caps sticking out of the ground or the side of your foundation.

    To find them, try to locate the trunk of your drain system. It should be in a line that goes under your bathrooms and kitchen. If you have a basement or crawl space, you should be able to see the trunk. There should be a cleanout at each end where it exits the foundation. If you have a slab, then it can be a lot harder to find.

    Anyway, uncap the cleanouts and see which way the pipes are pointing to. You can stick a garden hose down the cleanout and toward the septic tank, then sort of bang it around, you can hear the noise through the ground.

    Once you have a general idea of where it is, then the service people have a ground probe, basically a 3/8" diameter rod with a point on one end and a T handle on the other. They push it into the ground until it contacts something, or not. It beats digging holes.

    Also, the grass really is greener over the leach field, unless you do a lot of fertilizing and watering. The septic tank should be between the house and the leach field.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    florida
    Posts
    598

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    If you can find the cleanout where it exits the house you can install a test plug on the side entering the house. Have the plumber put a smoke bomb or smoke generator in the other end of the cleanout heading to the septic. You can bet the smoke will follow the direction of the septic .....where theres Smoke there a SHEET TANK!


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qD97...eature=related

    You can pruchase the smoke bombs at any plumbing supply store.
    Gizmo

    Cut it 3 times & it's still to short.
    Inventor of the Miter Master Plus.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
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    1,183

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    Never through any thing with a open flame into a sewer line. Sewer gas is flammable. Septic tanks are not that deep below ground. (6" to 1') In most cases there within 25' of the foundation wall. If you have any idea were the line exits the home get a short rod or a probe and poke around that area. There not that hard to find.

    John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    florida
    Posts
    598

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o View Post
    Never through any thing with a open flame into a sewer line. Sewer gas is flammable. Septic tanks are not that deep below ground. (6" to 1') In most cases there within 25' of the foundation wall. If you have any idea were the line exits the home get a short rod or a probe and poke around that area. There not that hard to find.

    John
    John,the smoke bombs are safe. The produce dry smoke with no flame or sparking. thirty plus yrs ago I was working on a condo subdivision that had all copper vents and drains that needed to be tested by code with the smoke bombs for inspection. I remember one of the plumbers tossed one of them under the driver seat of my foremans company work van. It was hillarous, the van had filled with smoke and when my foreman seen it *** was he pissed........Nothing was damaged or burnt.....

    Actually 5 days ago my old foreman and close friend passed away. This man was an old German from the old country that was one of the best Ive ever seen in the trade. He taught me the trade. That story about the smoke bomb came up the other night at the funeral home. His grandsons thought it was pretty funny.......
    Gizmo

    Cut it 3 times & it's still to short.
    Inventor of the Miter Master Plus.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,183

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmo View Post
    John,the smoke bombs are safe. The produce dry smoke with no flame or sparking. thirty plus yrs ago I was working on a condo subdivision that had all copper vents and drains that needed to be tested by code with the smoke bombs for inspection. I remember one of the plumbers tossed one of them under the driver seat of my foremans company work van. It was hillarous, the van had filled with smoke and when my foreman seen it *** was he pissed........Nothing was damaged or burnt.....

    Actually 5 days ago my old foreman and close friend passed away. This man was an old German from the old country that was one of the best Ive ever seen in the trade. He taught me the trade. That story about the smoke bomb came up the other night at the funeral home. His grandsons thought it was pretty funny.......
    I to have used smoke bombs. But with a little more sense. Instead of putting them directly into a sewer line we put them into a bucket and suck the smoke out of the bucket into the sewer line with a shop vac. I think I'll stick to my way of doing it. Why take the risk?

    John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,438

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    Houston's last suggestion would be my way of finding it.

    A plumber inserts a snake into the line, as far as he can go. Then he uses his sonar tool to find the line underground. He'll spray mark it so you don't lose it.

    99% accurate and worth every penny.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
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    1,183

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Houston's last suggestion would be my way of finding it.

    A plumber inserts a snake into the line, as far as he can go. Then he uses his sonar tool to find the line underground. He'll spray mark it so you don't lose it.

    99% accurate and worth every penny.
    dj1 That's what we call a mouse. It's a small sending unit that we attach to the snake. (it's about the size of a mouse) It gives a very precise location.

    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,259

    Default Re: Where is my septic tank?

    I seems to me that smoke would have no place to go except up a vent since the septic & cleanouts are buried.
    A metal detector might find a cleanout if there is any cast iron.
    The building department should have a record on file from when the house was permitted
    5 years is probably too long between pump outs

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