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Old 06-09-2009, 10:26 AM   #1
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How big is the opening on top of a septic tank?

I have a septic tank which I'm going to have to have cleaned out as a prerequisite to selling our house sometime in the next 6-12 months.

Before we bought the house, the tank was beneath the dirt floor in the outdoor carport next to the original house. The "genius" we bought the house from remodeled it about 15 years before we bought it, and in the process he poured a concrete slab completely over the entire carport dirt floor and turned the carport into part of a new interior addition to the house! That new room is now our home office! So the opening to my septic tank is now somewhere beneath the carpet inside my office! Not to mention somewhere beneath the concrete floor under the carpet!

I knew this when I bought the house, and I can see, once I pull back the carpet, where the "genius" had either jack hammered or sledge hammered a hole in the slab to get at the tank before we bought the house. He then repoured concrete and put back the carpet, and declared "mission accomplished".

So now, to help me prepare for doing it myself, can someone tell me approximately how large an opening is usually put in the top of a septic tank? I'm assuming it'll be some sort of removable plug a foot or so in each direction, with some sort of a handle on it for the tank cleaner-outer guy to grab hold of, etc. Am I on track here?

To make matters worse, the place in the slab where I'll have to cut the hole is in a small alcove of the office, making access for large tools even harder than if it was smack in the center of the room! At least I won't have to completely remove everything in the whole room! Arrrggahhhhhhh........




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Old 06-09-2009, 11:34 AM   #2
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My cover is concrete about 20" square. It has 2 lengths of rebar shaped into handles and cast in place. You may need to make a bigger hole in your floor depending on how deep the cover is.


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Old 06-09-2009, 12:00 PM   #3
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Mine is a round concrete cover about 18" in diameter. No handles or rings. If I were you, I would get a ring with a gasketed cover and set it flush with the floor. Then patch the concrete up to it. and put the carpet over the lid. Then you won't go through this again. They make them in sizes large enough to access with a screw down gasketed lid. Of course if you are selling, maybe it won't matter, unless the next buyer asks.
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Old 06-09-2009, 12:20 PM   #4
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I've been a rural NC real estate broker for more than 22 years and deal with a lot of residential septic system issues. You may or may not have a bigger issue than a septic tank access cover. It is against all regs to build anything over any part of a septic system. Also, I highly doubt that the former owner applied for and received a proper building permit and inspection for this addition (another major issue).
Both may well become deal-killer issues with a propsective new buyer, their building inspector, lender or even homeowner insurance provider. Unless you want to sell a lawsuit, I highly recommend full disclosure in writing signed by you and your spouse and the buyers prior to any contract or closing, at a minimum.
If it were me, I would seriously consider going ahead and bypassing this "illegal" tank, putting down a new tank and hooking it up to the house and existing distribution box and drainfield. And I would disclose that, too. Then no one could have any legitimate objections or grounds for any legal action.
Good luck!
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Old 06-10-2009, 05:50 PM   #5
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Mike has already said all the important stuff, been 15yrs sinse the tank's been emptied, not the end of the world but they recomend at least every 5 yrs. Wait till your sewer guy come walking thru your house with his hose. Some how this is not going to end pretty. Sorry I didn't offer suggestions to help you with your problem, only to go with what Mike said.
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:26 AM   #6
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I agree with every thing that Mike said also but there is one thing he did not mention. I don't know what the health dept regulations are in your area for abandoning a septic tank. Here is missouri when you abandon a tank you have to expose the entire tank pump it out entirely, clean it as much as you can and then collapse the old tank and fill it in with either gravel or sand. Bad news I know. as far as answering your question it all depends on what type of tank you have. Most concrete or metal tanks have about a 2 ft portal with about a 6" in portal in the middle of the 2 ft portal so you have the option of using 2 different portals. Fiberglas or plastic tanks have about a 30" portal. Some septics tanks are homemade so it is hard to tell what they have. So bottom line dig it up and see what you got.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:22 PM   #7
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Al is absolutely correct as usual. You have to do that to abandon septic tanks here, too. Once you had gotten into the new tank permit-and-inspection business with your Health Department, they would have informed you of all of the other requirements in your jurisdiction.
You were sold a mess, and unfortunately, you may have to bear the expense of correcting it before you can sell it now. You can check this with an attorney for verification, and also to see if there may be any recourse for you.
Good Luck!
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:04 PM   #8
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if i were tom, before i started working, i'd think about tying a rope to my waist and the other end to the rafters....just in case of 'floor collapse' no way you wanna fall in THAT!



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