The access port for your septic system is the vital port of entry necessary for regular service. It's important that you are aware of its location.
Access Port Basics
Every septic tank has at least one access port, and many have dual ports due to the layout of the tank system. These ports are typically green or brown in color because they are purposefully designed not to be an eyesore in the landscape. Ideally, the ports should be flush to the ground or slightly raised, which makes it easier to find them.
It's vital that you do know where they are, though. Your septic system should be inspected annually, which entails opening up the ports so the conditions inside the septic tank can be assessed. The tank will also eventually need to be pumped and serviced, and there is always the chance that it may require a repair.
The ports can be flush to the ground, but over time soil can build up around them at they can become slightly sunken. This makes the port more difficult to find. It's also common for people to plant flowers or similar shrubbery around ports in an effort to disguise them. Unfortunately, this poses the dual problem of making the port difficult to find and endangering the tank and line with root incursion.
Locating a septic cover is most difficult if you weren't provided with a septic map on a property you have just recently purchased the property. This is especially true if the landscaping has become overgrown and fallen into disrepair over the years.
Techniques and Tips
You may be able to triangulate the location of the tank if you know where your drain field is located. The drain field is usually a large, flat grassy field that is downslope from your home. The septic tank should lie along the perimeter of the field between your home and the field. Failing this, you can visit your county planning office to see if they have a property map available or the original permit from the septic system installation. This paperwork will usually contain the location of the tank. Another option is to call some septic service companies in your areas to see if any have records from past service calls to your address.
Once you know the basic location, you can seek out the access port. You may need to cut back grass or other plants or cut out turf in order to find it. Take a spade with you and gently push it a few inches into the soil over the suspected location. When you hit something hard, dig up the turf to see if it is the hidden port.
Contact a septic tank service near you if you need more help. Most offer tank location services for a small fee.