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Finding an Existing System

Finding an Existing System

Finding the septic system may not be an easy task, but is necessary for proper maintenance of the septic tank, troubleshooting problems, and making future plans for the property. Many counties and cities with permit and inspection programs for septic systems will have this information on file. If no plans exist, the following steps can be taken.

First, locate the septic tank. If the access manhole or inspection pips are at ground level they will be easy to find. Unfortunately, they are often buried several inches, or even several feet, below the ground surface. To locate the tank, go into the basement and determine the direction the sewer pipe goes out through the wall or floor. The sewer pipe should be easy to find. It is usually the largest diameter pipe made of plastic or cast iron with a clean out access.

Once the sewer pipe is located, determine the directing it laves the house. With a metal rod as a probe, start poking around in the soil 10 to 15 feet from the foundation of the house in the same direction as the pipe was headed in the basement. A metal detector may be of assistance in finding the tank since most concrete septic tanks contain metal reinforcing rods.

Next, locate the drainfield. If the soil treatment is located, but not the tank, work backwards toward the house probing for the tank. Mounds are easy to find, but a drainfield system in the ground may be more difficult. Try looking around the yard in the general direction where the sewer pipe left the house for an area where the grass grows differently. These clues may help locate the drainfield:

  • An area where the grass isn't growing well, or where the grass is greener or grows faster.

  • An area where there is a slight depression or mound.

  • An area where the soil is soggy when the rest of the yard is dry.

Often, a licensed contractor or inspector has tools to locate the tank. Once the tank is located, be sure to make a map of its location.

Click on the following links below for more information:

Locating a System
Diagram of Septic System
Safety Checklist
Maintanance and Care
Cleaning Frequency Guidelines
Common Problems
Soil Treatment System Maintenance
Septic Starters, Feeders, Cleaners and Other Additives

Infiltrator Chamber System - Page 1
Infiltrator Chamber System - Page 2