How to Locate Your Septic Tank

Knowing where your septic tank is located may not be high on your list of priorities, but it is important.

Anytime you do any type of home remodel or landscaping you’re going to want to know what area of your lawn or yard not to cover over. Believe me, it happens. One of our customers found out this very important piece of information when they discovered their septic tank was buried beneath the concrete under their carport. BIG PROBLEM, right? Oh yes, that was a very expensive mistake. Here’s how to find your septic tank on your own relatively easy.


Septic tanks aren’t usually more than ten feet from your home. In the cases we’ve seen, when this isn’t the rule, there has been a large amount of bedrock in the area that prevented installation in an area close to the house.

As a general rule of thumb, septic tanks aren’t typically buried too deep in the ground. There are exceptions to this rule, though. Homes with basements can sometimes have septic tanks deeper in the ground than a one-level home. Houses built on a hillside or on top of a hill may also be exceptions. Some septic tanks can be buried under just a couple of inches of earth, while others are found four feet deep or deeper. A strong metal rod, such as rebar, can be used to probe the ground and help you locate the proper area.

Sometimes septic tank lids are so close to the surface, they won’t grow grass on top of them.


Rectangular areas that are a little lower, or sunken, could be an indicator that this is where the septic tank is located. Loose soil settles over time, so this is usually a sign the soil in this area has been dug up, for some reason, at one time or another. Always try in this area first.

If your septic tank isn’t buried too deep, sometimes, grass won’t grow well on top of the lid. You may have noticed an area in your yard where the grass doesn’t grow during the summer months. This is a good indicator of where to find your tank.


If your home is on a crawlspace or basement, you can locate your septic tank by following the sewage pipe as it exits the foundation of your home. You can identify this pipe because all the drain pipes in your home will drain into this one pipe.

General layout of household drain lines. Source:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33, PD-1923 — This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

This method is a little more work as you must spot dig the main drain pipe from the house to the septic tank. It’s also more invasive to your lawn.


Your county groundwater protection office may have paperwork on your septic system. This paperwork, in our county, is called a Completion Report. A Completion Report is a very good bit of information to keep in your home maintenance file. It has a diagram of water lines coming into your home and your septic system layout.


As a last-ditch effort to locate your septic tank on your own, you can ask your neighbors. This is especially a great idea if your neighbors are friendly folks that have lived in the area for many years. If they don’t know, they may be able to connect you with the previous owner, who will most likely be able to tell you exactly where to start digging.


If you’ve done your best to locate your septic tank and have been unsuccessful in your attempt you may need to call for reinforcements. Some septic contractors will come out and locate your septic tank for a fee. You may be able to get this fee discounted, or waived completely, if you have your septic tank pumped during this appointment.

If you’re in our service area and need assistance finding your septic tank, give us a call at 931-729-4382. We’ll be happy to help!


Disclaimer — These are my own opinions formed from owning a septic pumping company for the last eight years. If you try to repair the problems mentioned above, you’re on your own. I won’t be held responsible for damages you may or may not have from attempted repairs. Use common sense, and if in doubt, contract it out!

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