Is it possible to find a septic tank with a metal detector? If so how?
Yes, you are able to find most septic tanks with a metal detector. The job is made easier if you know a rough location of the tank to begin with or are able to follow a sewer pipe directly from your house.
Septic tanks are a vital piece of equipment installed in many rural properties. But many people do not even know where theirs is. To make sure that you keep up to date with the tank’s maintenance, we suggest that you use a metal detector.
What is the purpose of a septic tank?
The first thing to note is that not everyone will have a septic tank. If your property has a direct connection to a sewage line then you will not have a need for a septic tank.
Knowing what method your home uses to deal with your wastewater is important, especially so if you own the property. The easiest way to find out if you have a septic tank is to look at your water bill.
You will be able to see if you have been charged for the use of a public sewer system or utility company. If you have not, then you have a septic tank somewhere on your property that is doing the job instead.
It will be dealing with your waste water by treating it and draining the waste.
Septic tanks do this by collecting your waste water and sewage from your bathrooms, kitchen and any other room that has a water connection.
A septic tank will separate any waste from your used water. The water will then be directed to an underground drain field which then distributes the water back into the earth to begin the water cycle again.
The separated waste left in the septic tank will have separated into two types of waste.
The scum (grease, oils etc) stay at the top of the tank and the sludge (anything that is heavier than water) sinks to the bottom.
While the bacteria in the tank will breakdown some of the leftover waste to drain away, there will still be a layer of sludge left at the bottom of the tank. It is this that will need to be removed during maintenance.
Why do I need to know where my tank is?
A septic tank is a basic sewer system and as such failure to maintain it will cause a sewage problem.
There could easily be a leak or failure to properly treat your wastewater if your septic tank is broken which will lead to contamination of surface waters and other areas surrounding your property.
This not only puts you and your family at risk of catching infectious diseases but also anyone or anything else living around your property. From birds to cyclists, a poorly maintained septic tank is a risk to all.
That is why knowing where your septic tank is and performing general maintenance checks on it is essential.
If you do find a problem with your tank, do not try to deal with it by yourself.
There are specialized services trained to deal with sewage and septic tanks so make sure to call one of those services and let them take care of the problem for you.
Where to look for your septic tank?
Before you start looking for your septic tank, you need to know roughly where it will be located.
The easiest way to find your tank is to use a map. As it turns out, many countries keep maps and specific locations of all septic tanks installed at any address.
All you should need to do is ask your landlord for your specific map. Or, if you have brought the house, then the map should be included with all of the paperwork you received upon purchase.
If you are unable to get a map or were not given one then get in contact with your local health department who should have a record of where your septic tank was installed on the property.
Of course, there are going to be cases where there is simply no record of any septic tank instalment; either because the property is so old or the installation company failed to provide documentation.
If this is the case, then you will need to find the tank yourself. But do not worry, they are not impossible to find!
The best way to start searching for your septic tank is to follow the sewer pipes. That does not mean crawling into the pipes with human waste, that would be gross.
First, you need to locate where the pipes leave your home. They should not be too difficult to find as most sewer pipes are four inches thick. Once you have located the sewer pipe, that is when you can start using your metal detector.
Does a septic tank contain metal?
Septic tanks can be made out of a range of materials such as:
- Fibre glass
- Reinforced / high density plastic
The good news is that regardless of the type of material used, there will almost always be metal reinforcement bars to keep the tank as watertight as possible. After all, nobody wants a leaking septic tank.
Most manufacturers of septic tanks will use steel to make their reinforcement bars.
Some metal detectors will be able to easily recognise steel easier than others due to the low electrical conductive character of the metal.
However, other than the bars, there will hardly ever be other metal used in septic tanks. Luckily, due to the size of a septic tank which is usually pretty big, you should not have too much trouble searching for it.
What metal detector will you need?
While it would definitely help to get a top branded, professional metal detector to locate your septic tank, it is not a necessity.
As mentioned above, to help make finding your septic tank easier, follow the sewage pipes coming out of your house with your metal detector.
Even though you do not need to own the best metal detector to find your tank, it is worth noting that some metal detectors are specially designed to find certain metals like gold metal detectors.
As such, you may have a harder time being able to locate the steel reinforcement bars of the septic tank. But do not worry, there are other methods you can use to find it!
How to use your metal detector when looking for a septic tank
Like said above, most septic tanks will only use stainless steel reinforcement bars and will use very little other metal. As such, you may find that a metal detector will not be able to locate it at all.
But do not worry, you will still be able to use your metal detector to locate the tank, just not in the way you would expect.
First, you are going to need to use a drain snake, the kind that is used for cleaning our pipes and toilets.
So long as you get one that is long enough, you will feel the end of the snake hitting the septic tank. Just make sure not to be too forceful with the drain snake as you do not want to damage your tank.
Leaving the drain snake where it is, your metal detector should be able to pick up the metal of the snake a lot easier than picking up the steel reinforcement bars.
All you have to do now is follow the drain snake outside your house and it will lead you to your septic tank.
Of course, like when using a metal detector for any other purpose, make sure to swing it side to side and keep the detector as close to the floor as you can to make following the drain snake easier.
Once you have located where your septic tank is, make a note of it.
This way when it comes to your septic tanks’ next general maintenance check, you will know exactly where it is without any of the fuss.