How to Find a Septic Tank with a Metal Detector

Knowing where a septic tank is located is crucial for proper maintenance of it. When you are sure where your septic tank is located, you are not going to damage it while working in the ground. Finding a septic tank can be a challenging task if you don’t know where to start.

Even professionals might have difficulties in searching for it, as everything depends on the area where your household is situated. Follow this article to get some useful tips regarding how to find a septic tank using a metal detector.


What Is a Septic Tank?

In short, a septic tank is a container located underground. It is used to receive, treat, and settle human waste. Before buying a house or before proceeding with reconstructions, specialists have to inspect and test it.

It is one of the crucial parts of your household. It has to be continually maintained to keep your home free from various pollution types or even the risk of containing severe illnesses.



How Do I Know If I Have a Septic Tank?

The easiest way to know if your home has a septic system is by having a look at your water bill. If you have a septic tank, your wastewater management part of the bill is going to be equal to $0.

Very often, households that have a septic system also have well water. Because of that, you might not get any water bill. Check if the water line that connects to your house has a meter attached to it. If not, you most probably get water from a well.

The area that you live in can also be a hint regarding the system that your household uses. If your building is located in a rural area, there is a high chance that you have a septic tank. You can also ask your neighbors if they have a septic tank.


What Does an Old Septic Tank Look Like?

Most septic tanks are executed in concrete. They usually have a 1600-liter capacity. You can recognize them by a round top made in concrete, with a large lid in the middle. They also have two little lids on the sides.

If the septic tank you found is old, you might notice different lids. People might replace a round lid with a different shaped one. If you notice that the cover is square or has some other unusual type of lid, most likely, someone replaced it at some time.

You might also find a larger type of tank. They can reach up to 3000 liters, but they are very rare. They look almost the same as the smaller, 1600-liter version, but they have bigger lids.



Can You Find a Septic Tank with a Metal Detector?

When you are trying to locate a septic tank, using a metal detector is one of the best solutions. Most septic tanks, especially old ones, are made of concrete. They are reinforced with metal bars, executed usually in steel, which your detector can locate.

As you can imagine, the size of a septic tank is quite impressive. That means that you don’t need an expensive metal detector with high sensitivity. With such a big size, you can reach for almost any metal detector.

While working with your metal detector, be sure that your footwear doesn’t have steel parts. Otherwise, you can get a false signal if the detector is too close to your shoes.


How to Find a Septic Tank in Rocky Soil?

Finding a septic tank in rocky soil can be trickier than searching in softer ground. However, if you have a good metal detector, you should not have a problem with locating a septic tank quickly.


Do I Have to Search with a Metal Detector?

Sometimes so-called experts are not able to locate the septic tank, or they waste time because they skip this step. Searching for information is very important and might help you to find a septic tank much quicker. You should verify if the tank you’re searching for is connected to the municipal one. When the answer is no, you should start your search with the detector.

If you get information that the tank is indeed connected to a municipal one, you can find it quickly. Search for the drain exit. When you find it, reach for a pumping snake. This tool can help you find the terminal and the position of the tank.

If you cannot proceed with some of these steps, you might have to search using a metal detector. If that’s the case, keep reading to get advice on how to do it successfully.


How to Find a Septic Tank with a Metal Detector: Step by Step

Clear the Land

Before starting your search, clean the area in which the tank can be located. Get rid of shrubs, grass, etc. You might notice that some places are bald. That can be a suggestion that a tank is located nearby.

After cleaning the area, you might even find a part of the tank sticking out from the ground. You can also notice that the grass has a different color than the rest.

If you deal with an area without grass, covered with sand, whether dried or muddy, you should search for different things. Perhaps you are going to notice that some areas around your house have different levels. It might be a suggestion that the tank is located around there.

Usually, septic tanks are located at some distance from the household. Mostly, they are built in downhill areas. Your search can be quicker if you start your search at least 10 feet away from your house.


Pick the Right Detector

As mentioned before, you don’t have to have a super-sensitive detector that can find coins in the ground. However, the higher is the number of diameters, the better. With an increased sensitivity metal detector, you might be able to locate a septic tank much faster.

Pay attention to the size of the detector. It should be convenient for your use. You can choose a detector that can be adjusted. You can also pick one that comes with accessories, for example, shovels. Those extra perks can be useful once you find your septic tank.

Metal detectors give various sounds depending on the type of metal that you locate. That of course is going to be more useful if you know what type of material was used in your septic tank.


Assembling and Setups

Once you get your metal detector, read the instructions to know what each component is used for. Attach the search coil to the stem. You can use the nut and screw to do it. Most metal detectors have these parts in the set.

Attach the stem to the nadir and then the iron located at the tip of the flower stem into the adjustable holes. You have to attach the control panel, and you are ready to go.

You can adjust the P/P functions and modes to make your search more efficient.


Extra Tips

You would do best by setting your detector to an “all metals” feature. This way, you can be sure that you are not going to miss the tank because you set up the wrong metal search. If it’s new land that you are searching, you might also find some other metals located under the soil that, perhaps, should be removed for your safety.

It might happen that a metal detector is not going to recognize some type of metal because of the type of soil. It can also be caused by technical issues of the discrimination option (the option set up to exclude some metals from the search).

Pay attention to the sounds your detector makes. Have a shovel with you to dig immediately when you hear that something might be hidden underground.


Keep It Safe

While using a metal detector, you should remain cautious to avoid an accident that can be dangerous for your health or even life-threatening.

Avoid sinking soil and swamp areas. You can check them by stretching out your arms but never stand on this type of surface, especially if you don’t know what exactly is located there.

Be aware of dry wells that can be hidden under grass or branches, unprotected. You might notice some pipes that are channeled to the septic tank.

Put on your safety clothing. This way, you prevent injuries that can be caused by sharp grass, animals, branches, etc.


Disassemble Your Metal Detector

Once you’re done with your job, you should always disassemble the metal detector. Unscrew the knob to remove the control panel. After that, remove the nut, connecting the search coil and the lower stem.

Separate the lower and upper stem. Disassembly doesn’t take a lot of time.


Clean Your Metal Detector

A metal detector should be waterproof. To keep its lifespan long, dry it right away, after each use. If it gets dirty, clean it. While doing so, be cautious to not soak the control panel in water.


Do I Need to Find a Buried Septic Tank?

When your toilets are flushing correctly, there is no bad smell, and everything works as it should, you might wonder why you should search for a septic tank. Well, the sooner you do it, the better.

All septic tanks that are in use have to be pumped out once in a while. They also require regular maintenance to work properly. Of course, you might wait until some problems appear, but by doing so, you expose yourself to big expenses.

Lack of maintenance can lead to water and soil contamination that can create a health hazard for living organisms, including humans.


Inspection of a Septic Tank

When you find a septic tank, you should remove the lid to allow for inspection and further maintenance. You should verify how thick the scum layer is, and how deep the sludge is. Thanks to this, you can verify if the scum and solids are not exiting the septic tank or filling most of it.

Remember to never leave a septic tank with the removed lid unattended. That can cause a very serious hazardous situation in which people can lose their health or lives.

A person who is dealing with the maintenance should rinse the septic tank filter. They should store the filtered dirt in an open septic tank. Never in the backyard.

An inspection can also verify if the septic tank has proper ventilation. If not, you must provide an adequate ventilation system or a separate air supply.


What If I Found a Septic Tank Located Under Permanent Parts of the Building?

Houses that have a lot of renovations, repairs, and additional buildings added after the house was constructed, might have a septic tank hidden under permanent parts of the building.

Even though it shouldn’t be like that, sometimes a septic tank can be found under a deck, patio, porch, shed, driveway, etc. It’s very rare, but it might happen that a septic tank is located under a building.

In this case, the tank should be moved outside. Things that are disposed of in septic tanks can produce flammable gases that are harmful to humans. When a tank is located under a building, proper ventilation cannot be provided. To move your tank, you have to reach out to a specialist that can deal with all the formalities and move the septic tank without causing damages to the environment, your house, and the area nearby.



Finding a septic tank on your property is one of the crucial things you should do. Thanks to this, you can prevent ecological disasters, save money, and prolong the lifespan of your waste system.

One of the easiest ways to find a septic tank is by using a metal detector. While it might feel confusing at the beginning, once you know what to do, finding a septic tank is an easy task.

Remember the safety measurements to avoid an accident. Always clean the area that you are going to search and be sure to stand only on stable ground. Use protection to prevent bites and injuries caused by insects, reptiles, and plants.

So, what did we talk about on this page?
Shimon Leizerovich
Shimon Leizerovich
I like to Find Gems and Treasures Around My Area, So Enjoy From My Biggest passion, Metal Detecting. I fall in love with the Metal Detecting area, and it connected with me to another hobby I had as a child, that to find gems and "treasures" around me and my area.