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I'm worried about where to build my foundation/site.Shovel in hand, ready2dig

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  • I'm worried about where to build my foundation/site.Shovel in hand, ready2dig

    WHERE IS MY SEPTIC TANK?!?!?!

    So I've searched and cannot find a clear answer, I do not know where my tank is and worried about building my oven "where I wanted to" in my yard.

    I'm a city boy, never had a front or backyard in my 37 years, never mowed grass, never raked leaves, never had to know about all the details of being a homeowner. Its all new and being here 2 months now I've been getting the materials for my dream project, my 42 Pompeii, and someone at work casually said "make sure you don't build a 5000lb oven on top of your tank, buddy".

    It freaked me out. Thinking about one day cooking dinner and that moment when "everything smells like shit". Or my oven slowly sinking into the ground over time.

    I'm going to call 811, at least to confirm there's no underground lines, but they're not going to mark off a drainage system.

    When we closed on the home, I remember seeing one of those city blueprint files, that have the dimensions, plot number, address etc. It had the trees marked on the diagram, but it was so brief I didn't think I wouldn't have a copy, since it was apart of the lawyers stacks of papers. But guess what, Its not in the folder from the laywer.

    My wife didn't pay for a septic inspection while lining up everything to close on the home, the previous owner was a flipper and the only thing plumbing wise he told me was that they had to redo the plumbing coming into the house, so everything from the front yard into the home is new pipe.

    I live just outside city limits in Spartanburg, Sc, so I don't have sewer or garbage services through the city, walking the .4 acre plot, I've found the metal lid for the city water meter I think the lid was labeled. That was about 15 feet from the street, in my backyard I found a roughly 16x12 slab of rock, roughly 10 feet from the home in the middle of the lot, but there's no markings that would make me think its anything other than a rock in the ground.
    I have 1 giant oak in my backyard and 2 more large trees, 1 is dead center in my backyard which would make me think there's no tank there, there is a dip at the rear of the lot with good grass compared to the whole yard, but there was roughly 2 or 3 seasons of dead leaves when we moved in , so there wasn't a lot of life on the ground and the plot is heavily shaded so I can't assume that its my leech field, or do I even have one?


    I'm so lost. I just want to build my oven by the corner of my home, by the driveway, and it would be near my meters on the home, electric, natural gas, etc.

    Sorry for the long winded post, all this has been running through my mind for a week now.

    I appreciate any help or advice and if you need to laugh at my scenario please do. City kids aren't groomed growing up knowing these things.
    Last edited by dnm3k; 12-29-2017, 12:14 PM.

  • #2
    It's going to be about 10 to 12 feet from your house. More that likely it will be directly out from the central bathroom and usually it will be in the back yard. Look on the roof for a 3" to 4" vent stack. Look perpendicular to it on the outside wall at the footing You may or may not see a clean out there. You can to do a little exploratory dig or use a probe. Once you find the pipe, you can then get an idea which direction it is from the house.

    EDIT: Sometimes the vent stack can be misleading. To be sure, measure over from a window to the wall directly behind the commode. Add about 6 more inches to that and then transfer that measurement to the outside of the house for a starting point.
    Last edited by Gulf; 12-29-2017, 12:41 PM.
    Joe Watson, "A year from now, you will have wished that you had started today"
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    • #3
      Welcome to the wonderful world of owning (and maintaining) a house. Do you have a crawl space or somewhere that you can see under the house. We have two bathrooms and the pipes coming out from under the toilets join and head out to the septic tank. The pipes are clearly visibly under the house so I can get an accurate line on the septic tank location. Ours is a concrete tank with a concrete port on top for cleaning and the access port and tank are buried about 1 1/2 ft down. I don't know how old your house is, but if you have a septic tank there should be a record of the permit and installation with the city (whoever does inspections in your area should be able to tell you who might have the paperwork/location info). As a rule, being gravity fed , the tank and leach field must be lower than your under-house plumbing (and since builders don't like to dig any deeper than necessary), it will most likely be on the lower side of the property from the residence.

      FYI, septic tanks usually need to be pumped every 5-10 years. There is a possibility that your local pumpers may have some "tools" to find the tank if the permit/info doesn't pan out.

      As an aside, you'll want to think about starting to compost and avoiding the use of a garbage disposal as much as possible. Everything you send down the waste water system (sink, disposals, toilets) is normally sent into the septic tank. Although there is significant conversion/reduction of solid waste into a water component (that is sent into a drain field), solids do accumulate in the bottom of the tank and can fill it up (or at least block the water outflow, located at the top back of the tank). Don't add one of those "miracle biotics" that claim to clean out septic tanks...they can work way too well on the remaining organics in the tank and can literally blow solids out into the drain field making it fail. I don't want to scare you, but it's good to know some of the facts about living with a septic system. They are very efficient and reliable, but like a car, you do have to do some basic maintenance and be aware of not abusing them...

      Good luck..and oven build or not, it is important that you find the tank and/or cleanout sooner than later.
      Last edited by SableSprings; 12-30-2017, 04:32 PM.
      Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
      Roseburg, Oregon

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      • #4
        I've been there! The City or County recorder's office will have the plans on file. I was actually able to email them and received the approved plans back in about 24 hours -- no charge. This will give you a much better idea as to where the septic is and how the leach lines are laid out. With plans in-hand, use a metal probe to somewhat gently pierce the soil where the tank should be. When you hit something solid, start working your way around the general vicinity to capture the edges of the tank. You're done! Also be mindful of your leach lines. They are usually 30-40 inches down. If you start digging up 1" stone, watch out, this means you're probably getting real close to your line.

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