A week ago I decided it would be a good idea to get my septic tank pumped. We’ve been in the house a year, and it had been about two years before that since the previous owner had it pumped. With winter and the baby on the way, it seemed like it might be a good idea to prevent any possible issues when it would be most inconvenient to fix them.
The previous owner gave me the name of the company that had always serviced the tank, and fairly good instructions as to where the cap was located. “Twelve feet off the back of the house where the downspout comes down.” See, the septic tank cap is buried, so this piece of information is key – like a treasure map. So I called the septic company, he told me I was looking for about a 20″x20″ cap, about 1′ down.
I used the weekend to finish remodeling our downstairs bathroom (another story entirely), figuring I had until Friday to dig out the cap. How hard could it be when I knew exactly where it was?
Monday night I got out my tape measure, marked out 12′ from the downspout, and started digging. Eighteen inches down and about three feet around later I was still digging up nothing but dirt. So I moved over a bit and dug some more. Then a little more. “Maybe he meant the upper downspout,” I thought. More digging. Nothing. Daylight is at a premium these days, so after a couple hours, I hauled my tools back to the shed under the spotlights.
Tuesday I got smarter. I found a thin metal rod and a mallet and started driving the rod into the ground about every 12″. If I hit something before the rod went down 18″, I tried to establish a pattern around it to make sure it was more than a rock. To my amazement, there were an awful lot of large rocks between twelve and eighteen inches below the surface. There aren’t anymore because I dug them all out. End of day two.
Wednesday I decided to go back to my original starting point and hammer the rod down further. I hit another promising solid surface so I continued excavating. After some time, I had uncovered a 1′ equilateral triangle of concrete slab that I couldn’t tell if it was the cap, the tank, or a random hunk of concrete dumped in the fill. Exhausted, I packed it in for the night.
Thursday morning I called the septic company and explained my dilemma. They said they would send someone out to try and locate the cap and mark it for me. Fantastic! I called for reinforcements (my Dad) because after three days of digging, I wasn’t sure how much more I had left in me. When I got home, they hadn’t shown up. All I had was my triangle of hope, so I started clearing out more dirt. Just as my Dad was pulling into the driveway, I had uncovered a curve set inside the edge of the concrete slab which could only mean the [stuff that comes out of your] booty was below. The two of us made short work of the remaining dirt and uncovered the cap.
In fact, the cap was not 12′ from the back of the house, it was more like 14′. It was not 20″x20″, it was 25″ and round. And it certainly was not 1′ below the ground, it was closer to 2′. But, as they say, shit happens.
After the pumping? GPS mapped coordinates for the exact location of the cover and a big ass stone slab will be embedded into the ground directly about it. I’ve had enough hunting for buried treasure.