Where's the Septic Tank?

I inspected this property Monday including a septic dye test and water samples collected per the customers request.

The Well:
I could not locate a well water pump. The customer showed me a small ground level deck area to the side of the house. I told him this being about a 12x12 deck, I doubt that this is your well. The ground was covered with snow with no indication of where this well could be. So I took the water samples. (The customer based this information from the listing agents MLS listing)

The Septic:
I ran dye through the basement sink attempting to locate any portion of the septic system. From another thread, I was not able to run but about 25 gallons of water.

I went back out to the house for a follow up whereas other tradesmen were to meet and help resolve these issues.

Today The Well:
After another thorough search of the property we asked a neighbor who happened to be out starting her car.
Neighbor says, “We’ve been on city water for 5 years now”.
No, there was no water meter near the house or anywhere (unless under the snow) on this 3/4 acre property.

Today The Septic:
A plumber ran his bore scope through the (2 separate) drain lines trying to find a septic tank to no avail.

They ran hot water for about 2hrs hoping to find something outside in the 8" of snow.

No city records, Neighbors still on septic, no septic companies with records of this property, etc…

Any ideals how we can find this septic system?


The easiest way would be to flush a transmitter down the toilet and scan the ground with a receiver, if you have the equipment. I use a steel probe and usually can find the tank unless it’s buried below 4-5 feet.
Can you see where the main sewer line goes through the foundation? That will tell you about how deep it is. Most tanks are less than 15 feet from where they exit the foundation

Your only other option would be to hire someone with a sewer cam.

As far as the well goes is the pump inside, if it is the shallow well, it probable has a cover below grade. I always advise my clients to make sure the well is accessible. Besides, if it’s below grade, more than likely it will test positive for coliform bacteria and will need to be shocked.

“A plumber ran his bore scope through the (2 separate) drain lines trying to find a septic tank to no avail.”
The transmitter and receiver is a good idea. I’ll pass that along.

Neighbor says, “We’ve been on city water for 5 years now”.
The house is on city water there is no well being used, just found out today.

I’m thinking they just ran field tile straight from the house in two different locations. The house was built in 1958 and believe it was all farm land back then. Behind the house is a big gully where a lot of sh_t could be. Awful grade…

It could be an old trench system but there should be a treatment tank somewhere. Given the age of the home it could be a 300 gallon steel drum.

Sounds like either way an upgrade is probably needed.

The customer (like most) really likes the house and commented that he may request the owner of the property to locate, pump, and inspect the septic system. At this point it’s sounding like the best option.

The neighbor had lived in that neighborhood for the past 15 yrs. She said the first owner kept the property in good condition, he passed away about 10 yrs ago. The house was then occupied by 2 different families within a 2 yr period. It’s been vacant for 3 yrs. The last owner fixed it to flip it. Lots of shoddy work for $107,000 (IMO)

$18,000 up for a new septic system in this area. That’s not including the problems with the local ordinances.

Gotta love noise neighbors…:slight_smile:

Bought a MH lot years ago and found a 55 gallon drum for a sewer tank.

That sounds like a reasonable approach. I always recommend the tank be pumped unless the owner can produce a receipt or has disclosed the tank was serviced within the last year.

John, I have heard stories of all kinds of thing used for septic tank, even a Volkswagen beetle!

I have found a few like this with the help of a metal detector while looking for oil tanks.

If the system is still functioning as designed, permitted, installed and intended…
an Upgrade / Replacement is not necessary…

Joe that is correct but a home that was built in 1958 and has an older if not original system will need an upgrade at some point. In my area, a system that old, would more than likely not be state approved an doubtful any documentation would exist.

Ultimately the buyer will own it.

If you inspected the same house and it had the original heating system what would you recommend?