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Question DetailsAsked on 4/21/2014

How do septic-pumping companies find the "tank" when the homeowner doesn't know? Leech lines are visible.

House was purchased via a short sale and the current owners didn't know exactly where the septic system was located. As the new owner, I suspected it was near the leech lines, but not sure how to find it. Was told the septic system was never pumped since the home was built !! 20+ years ago....puzzling to me.

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If by "leech lines are visible" I hope you mean you have a raised mound system, so the "leach field" is visible - if the lines are visible you have raw sewage flowing over the ground or within a couple of inches of doing so. If you can tell where the lines are by stripes of greener grass, than your leach field is running saturated or is built too shallow, and the sewage is too close to the surface. May mean the field is plugged up - which is quite likely if it has never been pumped in 20 years, as the tank fills with solids and then the solids move into the leach field piping and plugs it off, so not only will tank need emptying but the leach field will need to be rehabilitated with jetting and/or vacuum pumping. May alternatively mean original burial depth was too shallow or someone scraped some soil cover off, in which case it can be rebuilt with a mound system if allowed in your area,

If you can find where the sewer line is in the house, heading out, usually a direct shot from there to the tank and on to the leach field, though some fields are angled off from the tank depending on distance to nearby neighbor's leach fields, surface waters, and water wells. Typically, nearest end of tank is 10-20 feet outside the foundation of the house, and field begins 5-10 feet beyond that, and tiop of tank typically within 2 feet of the surface, with hatches usually within 6-8 inches of surface. You can commonly find them by looking for two square or round brown spots in the grass, if they are quite shallow. If you can't see it from the ground, commonly you can from the roof, if the ground surface is not plowed or graded annually.

Should be pumped every 2-10 years depending on how many people are in the house. A common industry rule of thumb is to take the number of bedrooms in the house times 6, divided by the number of people who actually live in the house, and that is the number of years it is likely to last between pumpings for a normal size tank properly sized to the number of bedrooms in the house - and this assumes no bedrooms have been added since the tank was installed. So, if you have 4 bedrooms and 8 people living in the house, you get 4x6/8 = 3 years estimated pumping cycle, and with only 2 people in the same house, you get 4x6/2 = 12 years. Of course, particular house usage patterns, amount of garbage disposal use, tank size, and ground temperature have effects also, so when your tank is pumped ask how full of solids it was (percentage wise), and adjust your pumping cycle proportionally so you are sure you get it pumped before it reaches maximum recommended capacity - which is typically 90% of baffle depth for rectangular tanks, and 80% for cylindrical tanks. It does not hurt (other than to your pocketbook) to pump too often, but letting solids into the leach field quickly promotes blocking off of the leachate flow, causing field failure and sewage backup.

Here are a couple of responses recently to your question which pretty well cover the subject -

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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