How to Open a Septic Tank Lid

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Things You'll Need

  • Digging equipment

  • Screwdriver

  • Pry-bar

  • Broom

Your septic system is for the most part maintenance free. Other than pumping out the solid waste every three to five years, there are very few maintenance issues that will ever need to be addressed. Should a problem develop within the tank, it will be necessary to have access which will require the removal of the septic tank lid.


Step 1

Locate the septic tank. Most codes call for the tank to be a minimum of 10 feet from the house foundation. The location and direction of the drain leaving the home should provide a solid clue as to the tank's whereabouts. It may be necessary to dig several test holes in order to locate the tank.


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Step 2

Excavate the dirt from the top of the tank. The septic tank lid will be a square piece of concrete located near the center of the tank. It will be approximately 18 inches square, depending on the model tank you have. Remove the dirt well away from the edges of the lid and attempt to slant the sides of the hole to help prevent dirt from shifting and sliding down onto the lid. When all the loose dirt is removed, sweep away any remaining dirt. It is important to remove as much dirt as possible so none will enter the tank when you remove the lid.


Step 3

Push the screwdriver into the seam around the lid. When it opens slightly, push the edge of the pry-bar into the seem and pry it upwards. The lid can be quite heavy so have a partner available to help you lift it free of the hole. Be careful during this process not to crack or chip the edges of the tank or the lid itself. It is important to have a tight, smooth seal between the lid and tank. With the lid removed, the tank can be pumped out and any repairs made before replacing the lid.


When back-filling the hole after repairs are completed, mark the location in some manner. A good way to mark the tank lid location is with a small stepping stone flush with the ground. This will save time and work if you need to re-open the tank in the future.


Never enter or allow anyone to enter a septic tank. The fumes and lack of oxygen can cause rapid suffocation and even death.



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