"The Kid" bought a house this spring. No record of where the septic tank is. He's poked with a rod everywhere, called the county, called MANY septic companies. No one willing to help. (They just want to put in a new system)
Best suggestion is a camera to go down the sewer, but so far, he's found no contractors to do this.
We're about to start just digging with the hoe and looking. He's thinking I'm the operator. I KNOW I'll hit it and bust it all to hell.
Anybody else been down this road. Good suggestions appreciated.
Well, I've seen this before. The owner called in a bunch of friends and an afternoon with shovels ensued. Dirty and time-consuming, but effective. I was the #2 friend.
For folk like us, with less charisma, a sewer-cam sounds like a good start, it'll get you a radius indication if nothing else. I've heard there are X-marks-the-spot locators (transmitter in the sewer snake?), ask full service plumbing outfits when the septic companies are exhausted (septic means they operate a pumper truck, not necessarily the full spectrum of plumbing maintenance).
I found the local bar's with a metal detector. What was weird was I was there for $1 Bloody Marys and a couple of strangers said he has a metal detector, small town.
I also just put in one, they are suppose to be within ahhh 15-20 feet from the house. Take the toilet off and shove a plastic pipe down it, noting what direction, and how far away it stops. Clean it with a rag when extracting.
That will be a bushel of apples, if I have the right person.
Look where the pipe goes out of the house. Measure down from top of foundation. Now you know how deep the pipe is. Go out and dig near the house 4-6 inches less than that with the hoe, then dig with the shovel (human-powered kind) and find the pipe. Go out 10 feet and repeat - if you don't find the pipe, come in and start looking for the elbow. You know precisely how deep you can dig, because if the pipe didn't run downhill from the house the crap wouldn't leave. So long as you stay at or above that level with the hoe, you will not hit the pipe. Use adequate equipment to actually know where that level is when you dig and you will at most clip the top of the tank, which might be a few inches higher than the pipe.
Often the tank is not nearly as far from the house as common sense would put it. Of course, it might also be a good old fashioned cess-pit, with a good old fashioned wooden cover, in which case that "put in a new system" approach might be a good one. You might want to dig for the pipe side-on rather than-end on to avoid/reduce the odds of parking the machine right on top of the rotten wooden tank cover.
When digging with the hoe, take small bites and use your nose and eyes. If you are lucky enough to have cast iron pipe, a metal detector would help (down in the hoe dug trench, not from the surface unless you get a really fancy one). If it changes to orangeburg (tar-paper pipe) outside the house, you'll want to dig it all out and replace it anyway, as it's useless.
If there's a cleanout fitting in the house, you might be able to tell if and how far out from the house there is an elbow by probing with something long that's not as flexible as a sewer snake.
Once you find it, if it's actually a concrete tank (you should be so lucky) plant an annual flowerbed in a nice rock circle over the manhole, and you'll never have to look for it again. If it's a steel tank, it will be rotten and you'll need to replace it.
Those hatches on the top of the tank are normally buried ~6"-12" down. A good way to find them is to drive something heavy like a cement truck around the property, when the wheels crash through the top of the tank you've found it.
Would be a neat gadget to have, but I think you could build a setup with a transmitter you could fish down the drain and a receiver you could wave over the ground pretty easily.
Go out and look at the lot. That should tell you where the tank would be logically. Look for a cleanout. Do some witching or metal detecting. By witching, you can find the lines, making a note or a mark when found, and soon a pattern will emerge. The main outflow from the house won't be very deep near the house. If you can figure out where it exits the house, the rest should flow from there. Two L shaped baling wires held loosely in the hands so they are just a tiny bit falling forward. Hold them as wide apart as your body is wide. Hold them with L folded elbows, elbows touching sides. Wires will swing together when you walk over a pipe or electrical line. It works, and I've used it for decades to find "stuff". It even finds tin can lids and old pop bottle tops. Metal detecting will be slightly more difficult, as only the best will find things over 12" or so deep, which would be the rebar lift eyes on the caps.
Heart surgery pending? Read up and prepare. Learn how to care for a friend. http://cabgbypasssurgery
Steve gave me another idea. Does the property use a well? If so, the septic tank will not be within 50 feet, at least where I live. Then there is the issue of placing septic in relation other adjacent property owners wells.