If you suspect septic problems and are planning to snake the line to the tank or clean the inlet baffle for the first time, your first challenge will be to locate the septic tank lid. Newer tanks have lids with raised handles, making them easy to spot. But many older tanks have lids that are flush with the ground. If you don't know where the tank is or how it is situated, finding it is a lot harder. Even when it's easy to see where the leach field is, it's not always clear where the tank is or how to get into it.
Most people start digging in the yard and give up in frustration when they fail to hit concrete. A few hours later, they are ready to call in the heavy equipment. Before you call for an excavator and destroy your yard, try these simpler methods.
Call Every Local Septic Tank Installer
Septic tanks weigh several tons, so they don't came from too far away. Someone in the neighborhood installed yours. If you have not lived in your home very long, it's possible that the previous owner had a septic service pump the tank. Someone will have a record of either installing or servicing the septic tank at your address, and the records should note the location of the access point.
Call Your Town Hall
Homeowners have to get permits to install septic tanks. There should be copies of all the permits issued for your property, and there may even be a sketch or photograph. These are public records and you can get a copy for a small fee. If possible, speak to someone in the Building or Code Enforcement department. They may have a copy of your home's building plan. They can also tell you about the building codes for the year your house was built, which usually specifies where the septic access should be.
Call the Septic Service Again
If you still can't find it, sometimes the best thing to do is to forget doing it yourself and have the tank professionally serviced by a company like Southern Sanitary Systems Inc. If you don't have the lid uncovered and ready for them to work, they may charge a fee for this service. However, plumbers and septic services have many tricks for finding things underground, from old standbys like smoke bombs and probes to sonar and flushable GPS beacons. They can do it quickly, so even if there is a charge it will be far less expensive than digging up the driveway.
When they find the lid, mark it with pole, a stake or a tire. Take a picture, draw a map or measure exactly how far it is from a point on the house. It's easy to forget where it is once the seasons and the vegetation change. If you ever need to find the lid when the yard is covered with snow, you'll know exactly where it is.