A plumber came out to my house yesterday and had this tool on his arsenal which was basically a 3 or 4 ft long thin (1/2") fiberglass pole with a metal tip on the bottom and a handle on top which makes it look like the letter T. Here's a quick sketch of it I made in paint:

Nonconductive Soil Probe Sketch

He used it to help find the cleanout for the waste line before digging by pushing this tool into the ground.

I think it would be a handy tool to have, but cannot put a name to it that works in search queries. What is this tool called?

  • Maybe try to add a sketch to help us understand the description?
    – Lefty
    Nov 8, 2015 at 14:38
  • 1
    In other endeavors, known as a mole probe. Nov 8, 2015 at 17:51
  • 1
    Handy, yes. But it can also break PVC if used too forcefully. That happened at my house, but no one knew. I paid to have my septic tank pumped multiple times, and paid for a whole new drain field, including removing some nice mature trees to make room. When clogs still happened, I looked hard for the real cause, and discovered the shattered PVC.
    – donjuedo
    Nov 8, 2015 at 21:41
  • So its a pointy stick, with a handle ? No need to over-complicate things.
    – Criggie
    Nov 9, 2015 at 4:05
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    @Criggie Agreed, but it's hard to know which parts of the description are key to the knowing which tool it is--so maybe I went a little overboard. A pointy stick with a handle sounds like it could be a shish kabob skewer amongst other things to me. I added a picture I made for quick reference since I only had access to my phone yesterday when I asked the question. Nov 9, 2015 at 21:05

3 Answers 3


Sounds like a non-conductive soil probe.

  • I can't believe I can't find a Creative Commons image of this thing to add to this answer. +1 Nov 9, 2015 at 9:04
  • The link is broken. Nov 14, 2020 at 18:03

When a clean out, septic lid, or any other objects general, but not exact location is known many plumbers will use (as OrganicLawnDIY has stated) what is referred to as a "soil probe" or a "soil recovery probe".

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=soil%20probe Shaped like an upper case 'T', the 1/2 inch diameter shaft is about 48 inches long and ends with a tapered point for easy penetration into the earth. The better built ones are constructed from stainless steel so as not to be affected by rust. To use the probe you grasp the handle and directing your body weight over the shaft, force the point into the earth with a slight twisting motion. The part that must be learned is sensing (by hearing and feeling) when the point comes into contact with the sought-after object. Usually a dull or hollow sound will be heard through the ground and the probe point will rebound slightly off a PVC or ABS pipe.


This is called a probe. you just push it into the ground and feel the resistance. When I was in industrial, maintenance, I made my own out of a deep valve water key.

  • We use this tool in the electrical industry in the field to locate buried pipes and electrical wires. We just called it a probe as well, and I made my own with a metal rod and some rigid pipe for the handle, with non-conductive bicycle handle grips. I welded the pipe and rod into a tee and welded some extra metal (and used a grinder to clean and polish it) to form a tear-drop on the end of the rod (to reduce resistance in the earth for the rest of the rod to pass more easily up and down). Mar 6, 2021 at 18:22

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