Has Anyone Located Their Septic With A Metal Detector? - Homesteading Today
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  #1  
Old 09/14/08, 09:36 PM
 
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Has Anyone Located Their Septic With A Metal Detector?

We are trying to locate the septic tank on a house we have a contract on. The septic company couldn't find it and said they will need to bring out a backhoe. We went out and tried again to find it. One of the difficulties is that the land behind the house is on a rock shelf. Everywhere we poke there is rock. The neighbor told us that when the former owner put in a cistern, they had to dig through rock, so it is still possible the septic is close to the house and they dug through the rock. I have read that maybe we could find the septic lid with a metal detector. Has anyone tried this? I appreciate any help!!

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Old 09/14/08, 10:04 PM
 
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You can locate it with a metal detector but not in the manner you expect. There is not enough metal for the detector to pickup. However, it is rather simple to find the tank. Go under the house and locate a clean out in the sewer line. Get a cleanout snake and send that down the line. You should be able to locate the end of the snake when it stops once it gets in the septic take. Normally septic tanks are near the house but there are exceptions. Usually the tank is not more than a single length of pipe (20') from the home. If the detector cannot sense the snake then just measure the distance from the clean out to where the snake stops and dig. A tee handled probe stuck into the ground should locate the concrete top of the tank.

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Last edited by agmantoo; 09/14/08 at 10:08 PM.
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  #3  
Old 09/14/08, 10:07 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Southwest Wisconsin
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DO you know where the pipe leaves the house? Find the pipe and your tank should be on that side of the house?

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Old 09/14/08, 10:42 PM
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How can it be emptied if the cover isnt accessible?
It has to have a place to open it for inspection and emptying.

I would follow the lines too and hope it not a failed system when you do find it.
Good luck!

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  #5  
Old 09/14/08, 10:48 PM
 
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The house was built in the 1970's. At that time, there was no regulation on how of where the septic was to be located. We did follow the line out of the house and used a metal post to look for it, but like I said, there is a lot of rock there. There is no clean out in the sewer line leaving the house, so not sure we can run a snake through there. Will have to go out and check that. Thanks for that suggestion!

RiverPines, that is why we are trying to find it, so it can be pumped and inspected.

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Old 09/15/08, 07:50 AM
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Many good septic professionals will have a device that they flush down your toliet. This gizmos sends out a radio signal that he can then can find with a locator device. The gizmo floats in the septic tank and once the signal is detected the septic guy can retrieve it when he services the septic tank. (Think wildlife biologist trying to track a radio-collared bear.)

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Last edited by Cabin Fever; 09/15/08 at 07:53 AM.
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  #7  
Old 09/15/08, 08:45 AM
 
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I would think that the septic would be too deep to be found with a metal detector.

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Old 09/15/08, 09:08 AM
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Your local Health Department may have a sketch on file of the septic system. Also look for where the grass is the greenest for the drain field.

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Old 09/15/08, 09:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabin Fever View Post
Many good septic professionals will have a device that they flush down your toliet. This gizmos sends out a radio signal that he can then can find with a locator device. The gizmo floats in the septic tank and once the signal is detected the septic guy can retrieve it when he services the septic tank. (Think wildlife biologist trying to track a radio-collared bear.)
Unfortunately, this is a foreclosure property and someone ran over the electric line in the yard. No pumps working to the house to supply water to be able to flush the toilet. I wonder if it would work if we took a bucket of water from the cistern and poured it down the toilet if it would flush it with enough force to push it through?

The electric will be fixed, but since it is bank owned it is going to take some time. We thought we would have the septic inspected first so there won't be any "surprises" when the whole house inspector comes and uses the sinks/toilet, etc.. We are trying to do everything we can to push this thing through the sale. Sometimes I feel like I am behind an elephant trying to push it up a hill!!!
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Old 09/15/08, 09:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by highlandview View Post
Your local Health Department may have a sketch on file of the septic system. Also look for where the grass is the greenest for the drain field.
I have checked with them. Since the house was built in the 70's and they haven't required inspections until 2005, they have nothing.

No spot where the grass is greener.

Good thoughts though! I appreciate it!
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  #11  
Old 09/15/08, 09:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by clovis View Post
I would think that the septic would be too deep to be found with a metal detector.
I was wondering that. I was hoping to hear a success story here!!
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  #12  
Old 09/15/08, 09:48 AM
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It is also most likely in a place where it can run down hill to a drain field. In WV the current realestate law makes the seller pump the septic system before they sell the house. When we bought our last house the septic tank was on our property but the drain field was on the neighbor's property. He had originally owned all the land including where our home was built and all the proper paper work was there - a deeded, transferable easement. Check with the neighbors if there are any who might remember the system being put in.

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Old 09/15/08, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by clovis View Post
I would think that the septic would be too deep to be found with a metal detector.
That would depend upon a lot of things. Whether the detector was a good one, and the size of the detector coil of the unit, and the size, pattern, and amount of metal in a tank lid. If it is all concrete with a very small handle standing on edge it might not. And of course whether the home had a basement drain or not which a lot do not, especially if in an area with rock shelf. Means it should be fairly shallow.

I have two coils for my detector and the one will search to a depth of about 6 feet, but only find fairly good sized objects at that depth unless you hit the sweet spot of signal. The larger the coil the more precise you must be over the target.
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Old 09/15/08, 10:24 AM
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A septic can be found by witching... as in for water.

My septic in an old house took a strange turn out of the basement due to the old rock foundation, and I needed to find it. My Dad asked if I could "witch". I didn't know that I can until I tried it, and that is how I found the septic tank!

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Old 09/15/08, 10:28 AM
 
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Years ago we ran into the same problem. the septic wasn't where it was suppose to be so...When the septic guy came out he used a "water witch" stick and be darned...if he didn't find it !! Now you can believe this or not..but ours was found. It was only a few feet from the bathroom window !! It had no cap on it and after us digging it out by hand a few times we did wise up and put a cap on it so we can have it cleaned out..."once in a blue moon". We actually only have had it cleaned twice in 30 years..never seem to have a problem with it all of these years. So...what do you have to lose !!Find an old-timer in your area and ask him to give it a try. I would hate to have a back hoe digging everywhere to find the septic. Good Luck !!!

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Old 09/15/08, 11:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by snowshoehair View Post
A septic can be found by witching... as in for water.

My septic in an old house took a strange turn out of the basement due to the old rock foundation, and I needed to find it. My Dad asked if I could "witch". I didn't know that I can until I tried it, and that is how I found the septic tank!
I have heard about this and am more than willing to give that a try. Would two wire clothes hangers work? What did you use. I will google that as well! Thanks for the suggestion!
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  #17  
Old 09/15/08, 11:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Helena View Post
Years ago we ran into the same problem. the septic wasn't where it was suppose to be so...When the septic guy came out he used a "water witch" stick and be darned...if he didn't find it !! Now you can believe this or not..but ours was found. It was only a few feet from the bathroom window !! It had no cap on it and after us digging it out by hand a few times we did wise up and put a cap on it so we can have it cleaned out..."once in a blue moon". We actually only have had it cleaned twice in 30 years..never seem to have a problem with it all of these years. So...what do you have to lose !!Find an old-timer in your area and ask him to give it a try. I would hate to have a back hoe digging everywhere to find the septic. Good Luck !!!
I think we will try witching for it. It is good to know too, that the old septic systems may still work!! I think this one is from the 70's.
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  #18  
Old 09/15/08, 11:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Windy in Kansas View Post
That would depend upon a lot of things. Whether the detector was a good one, and the size of the detector coil of the unit, and the size, pattern, and amount of metal in a tank lid. If it is all concrete with a very small handle standing on edge it might not. And of course whether the home had a basement drain or not which a lot do not, especially if in an area with rock shelf. Means it should be fairly shallow.

I have two coils for my detector and the one will search to a depth of about 6 feet, but only find fairly good sized objects at that depth unless you hit the sweet spot of signal. The larger the coil the more precise you must be over the target.
We will have to rent one, so I will be sure and check out the coil sizes. Thanks for the help!
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  #19  
Old 09/15/08, 11:54 AM
 
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look for a low place around the area the pipe goes out a lot of times the ground will be low where the tank is as the ground settled back around it.

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  #20  
Old 09/15/08, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by KindredSpirit View Post
Unfortunately, this is a foreclosure property and someone ran over the electric line in the yard. No pumps working to the house to supply water to be able to flush the toilet. I wonder if it would work if we took a bucket of water from the cistern and poured it down the toilet if it would flush it with enough force to push it through?....
Yep, that would work.
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