How Much Does Septic Tank Pumping Cost?

“The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” – Erma Bombeck

If the thought grosses you out, better look at your own septic tank to see if the grass is indeed greener in yours. Perhaps your tank may already need some cleaning.

Some may benefit from the sewer system especially if you live in the city. But for those living in the rural, when there is no central sewage to connect to, you need a septic tank fitted. And by this, you know too well that your septic tank is your own problem.

Average Cost of Septic Tank Pumping

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average septic tank pumping cost including cleaning is $383 based on its members’ reported actual project cost, with most homeowners spending between $280 and $523.

Septic tanks are usually pumped every two to three years, at most at five years to keep it working properly. But if it’s not done for decades, you may need to replace your septic tank system altogether and cost you about $5,000 to $10,000, and you don’t want that.

Additional Costs

The most commonly repaired or replaced part during septic tank cleaning is the filter. The average cost of installing a high-quality filter ranges around $200 to $300 on top of the septic tank cleaning price.

Materials used in the repair work include PVC pipes and fittings, submersible pumps and concrete or plastic risers and lids cost. 

Failing tank can be resurrected by pumping the tank, cleaning the drain field lines, installing filters and fracturing the soil whereby a hollow tube is inserted into the ground and injecting a 300-pound blast of air. This process costs around $1,000 to $2,000, but it is cheaper and more convenient than installing a new system.

Replacement of the tank would be around $1,200 to $3,000 aside from the $500 to $1,000 additional expense for gravel, stone, fill dirt and topsoil.

Taking Care of Your Septic Tank

  • Never park cars or build structures on top of your septic talks to avoid increasing pressure and cause a rupture.
  • Do not plant anything in your drainage field aside from natural grass
  • Remember what you read in most office and public toilets. “Do not flush tissue papers and napkins.” It applies to all toilets as they can clog pipes.
  • Knowing the exact location of your tank will help your cleaner dig in the right place, preventing the breakage. Also, some professionals charge for actual hours worked. Knowing the location beforehand saves you labor hours of digging down and searching where your tank exactly is.
  • While the tank is uncovered like during inspection, draw a map of its location in relation to the house or take photos; this can be valuable for future pumping or other septic services.
image of tanks

When is it Time to Have Your Septic Tank Cleaned?

Your septic tank needs to be pumped every once in a while, ideally one to three years depending on the size. But when you do not adhere to this, what would serve as your red alert when it is high time to have it done?

  • When you realize your tank had not been pumped in 5 years
  • When you are seeing wet areas or standing water above the drain field
  • When your toilet is running slowly
  • When there are odors in your home

Factors Affecting Cost of Septic Tank Pumping

Some of factors are cited below:

  • Size

The size of the septic tank has a direct effect on the total money needed for the project. You must remember that what goes in it does not come from the toilet alone but also from other sources such as dishwashers, washing machine, etc. So naturally, your tank must be able to hold that amount of water.

  • Location

This effect is because the cost of living has a direct impact on the cost of labor and the operation of a business as a whole. For example, your home’s proximity to a wastewater treatment facility may save you some cost since it is easier to get the job done.

  • Company doing the service

Obviously, different companies offer different rates. And when there are plenty of local contractors in the vicinity, chances are, you get to choose much lower rates compared to places with few contractors to choose from.

  • Labor

This is applicable for large septic tanks. Most companies offer a flat rate for small or average-sized tanks. With larger tanks, they tend to charge higher and some per hour. Be sure to discuss this with the company beforehand.

  • Additional services

The primary activity is the pumping. But most often than not, there are added services along the way. This can be repair of the filter, piping, or the tank itself among others. So please allow a budget for contingency.

  • Timing

When you did not plan the pumping way ahead of time, chances are, you end up scheduling on an ASAP or emergency basis.

  • Contents of the tank

If your septic tank has not been pumped and cleaned in a long time, expect an excessive sludge build up which takes a longer time to remove, causing an additional fee.

Pumping Considerations

  • Ideally, the septic tank should be pumped every one to three years, depending on the size of the tank and the number of occupants in your home. This way, you will have a lesser chance of spending on repairing or replacement of your septic tank.
  • Normally, it would be wise to DIY everything to save the cost of labor. But in the case of septic tank pumping, it might not be a good idea. This is because the sludge pumped out of the tank must be properly stored in an appropriate container and disposed of properly in a designated dumping station approved by the local government. And only the professionals know exactly how to take care of the aftermath so why not let them do the job altogether.
  • When considering getting contractor, look for a company that does not only do pumping but also tank maintenance because they are more well-versed in pump issues.
  • Read the agreement carefully. Low-cost companies can sometimes be too good to be true and may do more harm than good with your septic tank.
  • Septic tanks are extremely unsanitary and may contain deadly gases. Therefore, never attempt to enter it. This is the main reason why many states are requiring that only trained and licensed professionals are supposed to do septic tank pumping.

When Not to Pump Out a Septic Tank

There are conditions where pumping out the septic tank is not recommended because it may be unsafe or it can lead to damage to the septic system. Examples are the following:

  • Pumping after a septic system has been flooded either by a storm, hurricane or river flow

When there are an ongoing flood and your septic tank is made of plastic or fiberglass, chances are, your tank will float leading to damaged piping and will cost you more for repairs or replacement.

Even if the tank is of concrete, the flood may carry debris to the reservoir leading to more cleaning needed, therefore, additional work and expenses. It is always wise to wait for the flood to subside before getting the job done.

  • If a septic tank is old or made of unknown or fragile construction material, do not pump without inspecting

If you are not sure of what your septic tank are made of, or if it is robust enough to stand a pumping, ask a professional to do the inspection for safety reason.

  • When a house is being sold

Pumping a septic tank empty might seem to be a wise idea when the house in on the market. But on the contrary, it may be disadvantageous, unless the seller will do the favor after the inspection and testing have been done. Otherwise, while you may want to start fresh in your new home, an empty septic tank might pose a serious threat such as damage or collapse. Since the reservoir cannot be tested and inspected if it is empty, you will not know its age, what it is made of, and its current condition. It is therefore advised to test the septic tank before completing the purchase.

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