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Do You Know the Location of Your Well and Septic System?

Posted: December 14, 2015

In order to properly maintain your well and septic system, you should know the location of all components on your property. You should have a map showing the location of the well, septic tank, distribution box or pump tank, and leach field/absorption area or sand mound along with other underground utility lines.
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You want to be able to easily locate your septic system or well when it is time for inspection, maintenance, and repair or for your septic tank to be pumped out. If you are purchasing a property with a well and septic system, you should request a map from the seller that shows their location. You and other family members can use this map when planning and making decisions concerning new construction or landscaping projects. 

You do not want to build patios or other structures over the septic tank, absorption area or well. The deep roots of trees and shrubs planted too close can damage the septic tank, absorption area or sewage lines. You do not want to place heavy portable, above ground swimming pools over the septic tank and absorption area. You want to keep automobiles and heavy equipment off of your septic tank and absorption area to protect system parts and avoid soil compaction.

A map showing the location of your well and septic system can also help you better manage stormwater on your property. To best manage stormwater it helps to create a plan to map out your property and estimate how much stormwater is generated, where the stormwater is coming from, and how it travels across your property. According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services “Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management,” once you identify these details, you can decide how to best manage your stormwater. You are better able to determine what stormwater treatment practices are most appropriate to divert stormwater from your leach field/absorption area and to prevent it from ponding around your well head. 

According to the University of Missouri Extension Fact Sheet,”Household Wastewater: Septic Systems and Other Treatment Methods,” if you do not know where your septic system is located, there are steps you can take to find it. The location of your septic tank can be determined from plot plans, septic system inspection records, architectural diagrams or landscape drawings. Your township sewage enforcement officer may have records showing the location of the system on your property. 

If none of these sources prove helpful, you still may be able to locate your septic tank yourself. In the basement, look for the sewer pipe leaving the house and note the direction in which it goes through the wall. Then, go outside and probe the ground with a narrow metal rod or dig into the ground 10 to 20 feet away from the house in the direction of the house sewer line. 

Try to find the absorption area by checking the yard for an area where the grass grows differently or there are mounded areas or trenches. The tank is located between the sewer pipe and the absorption area. Any likely site can be probed with a thin metal rod that can reach through the soil to the top of the tank. In the winter warmth from household water may melt snow above the tank.

If you are unable to find the tank or absorption area, a septic tank inspection and pumping service may be of assistance and can even use a device to find them. You may want to have an access riser extended from the septic tank to the surface or just below ground level. A septic tank riser is an extension that sits on top of a septic tank making it more accessible. 

Once the septic tank has been located, make a map or several plot plan diagrams (with measurements) that include a rough sketch of your house, septic tank cover, leach field/absorption area, well, and any other permanent reference points (such as trees or large rocks) and place them with your important well and septic system information and maintenance records. You may want to keep a copy of the map in the garage where it is easily accessible to other family members for contractors or septic tank pumpers when needed. Knowing where your well and septic system are located and having a map to refer to can help you properly maintain them and prevent costly repairs.