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How Do you Tell if a Property has a Septic Tank?

In the UK, particularly in rural and some suburban areas, many properties are not connected to the main sewage system and instead rely on septic tanks for waste management. I

f you’re considering purchasing a property, or if you’ve moved into a new home and are unsure about its waste system, it’s important to determine whether it has a septic tank. Here’s how you can find out.

Ways to Determine if a Property Has a Septic Tank

  1. Property Location: Septic tanks are more common in rural areas where connection to the main sewer system is not feasible.
  2. Check Property Documents: Look through the property’s deed or ask the estate agent. The deed might contain information about a septic tank, including its location and maintenance records.
  3. Inspect the Property: Look for signs like manhole covers or green lids in the garden, which might indicate the presence of a septic tank.
  4. Ask Neighbours: Neighbours can be a valuable source of information, especially in rural areas where septic tanks are common.
  5. Look for a Drainage Field: A septic tank usually has a drainage field (also known as a soakaway system) where effluent from the tank is released. Signs of this include an area of land with noticeably different grass growth.
  6. Consult Local Building Regulations or Environmental Agencies: They can provide historical records of the property, which might include information about a septic tank.
  7. Hire a Professional: A professional surveyor or a septic tank specialist can inspect the property and confirm the presence and condition of a septic tank.

What to Do If You Find a Septic Tank

  1. Assess Its Condition: Determine when it was last emptied and whether it’s in good working order.
  2. Understand Your Responsibilities: Owning a property with a septic tank comes with responsibilities, including regular maintenance and compliance with environmental regulations.
  3. Plan for Maintenance: Establish a routine for inspection and emptying the tank to avoid any environmental or health issues.


Identifying whether a property has a septic tank is crucial for potential homeowners in the UK, especially in areas without access to centralised sewage systems. Through a combination of property checks, local inquiries, and professional assessments, one can confirm the presence of a septic tank and take necessary steps to ensure its proper maintenance and compliance with regulations.

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