The national average cost to clean and pump a septic tank is between $295 and $610 with most people spending around $375. Depending on the size of your septic tank, pumping could cost as low as $250 for a 750-gallon tank, or as high as $895 for a 1,250-gallon tank. Get free estimates from septic professionals near you.
The national average cost to clean and pump a septic tank is between $295 and $610 with most people spending around $375. Depending on the size of your septic tank, pumping could cost as low as $250 for a 750-gallon tank, or as high as $895 for a 1,250-gallon tank.
|National Average Cost||$375|
|Average Range||$295 to $610|
According to the American Ground Water Trust, 35.7 million homes in the US have a septic system installed, which means that no matter where you live, there should be plenty of professionals available to pump your septic tank at an affordable cost.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, your septic tank must be pumped if the scum layer is within 6” of the outlet pipe. If you’re putting off the $375 job, keep in mind that it can cost up to $10,000 to replace your septic system, whereas proper maintenance can help it last for up to fifty years.
Knowing the size of your septic tank is really important when establishing a plan for how often to have it emptied. Be sure to ask the previous homeowner the exact size to make sure your plans for pumping out the septage are adequately matched to your family size and water usage.
While building codes will vary somewhat across the country, an average baseline guide would look something like this:
To put the numbers into perspective, a typical adult in the US will consume an average of one quart of food per day. The lion’s portion of that quart will end up in your septic system. When multiplied out across a year, that amounts to about 90 gallons of solid waste produced per adult. Given that the standard performance of most septic systems reflects a 50% reduction of solids, this reflects an annual total of 45 gallons per person.
In a three-bedroom house with a family of four (two kids and two adults), we would expect to see annual solid waste production at 135 gallons and recommend a 1,250-gallon septic tank. Septic tanks maintenance schedules and environmental regulations state that septic tanks should not be allowed to be more than 30% filled, and that puts the pumping schedule right at 30–31 months if all four family members are home all day every day, which is rarely the case.
According to the US Geological Survey website, most people in the US use between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day through flushing the toilet (3 gallons), taking showers (up to 5 gallons per minute and newer showers about 2 gallons), running a bath (36 gallons), washing clothes (25 gallons), and running the dishwasher (13 gallons). Other contributors also include dishwashing by hand, watering the lawn, brushing teeth, drinking, cooking water, and washing your hands and face. All this water will occupy a percentage of the remaining 70% of the capacity of your septic tank before it continues on to the drain field.
If you have done nothing to prepare the area, your contractors will have to locate the septic tank and uncover the tank lids, which is something they will charge for. If you want to save some money, locate them before the truck arrives.
For homes built since 1975, there will typically be two compartments in the tank. Each compartment has its own lid that will need to be located and opened so each compartment can be inspected and pumped. Your home should come with a map that will make it an easy task to locate whatever kind of system was installed.
The technician will:
The following is a list of what would be the most helpful information the contractor can provide to you in relation to the work carried out on your property. Run through the details of this list, so they are prepared to make notes as they carry out the pumping.
Not only is this information useful for you as the homeowner; it will give future buyers of your property the confidence that the system was well maintained. It will also let you know when to schedule the next pumping, based on the sludge levels at the time of pumping.
The Environmental Protection Agency has an extensive body of knowledge about septic systems on its site, including some excellent pointers on how to treat your septic system in order to ensure its long life and avoid any unnecessary expenses. Simple considerations like the following will make a big difference:
The most common repair you will perform on your septic system is filter replacement. Expect to pay around $230 to install a quality filter for your septic tank. Additional repairs include fittings, pipes, risers, and lids which can likely be fixed for around $100 or less. Other times when your septic pump goes out, this repair will generally cost near $500 to replace.
In some cases where your septic professional is unable to pump your system, they may recommend cleaning the drain field lines, replacing the filter and fracturing the soil. This process involves a 300-pound blast of air through a hollow tube in the ground, which costs around $1,500 to perform.
Did the septic cleaning service determine you might need a new system? A traditional septic tank for a three-bedroom house will average around $3,250. For conventional systems, it might be possible to get a suitable system installed for under $5,000 in the Midwest, whereas in coastal areas, one could cost $10,000 or more. For an engineered system, the costs will average around $15,000.
A septic system works by receiving all the wastewater from your home through underground pipes in a buried tank that is usually made out of concrete, plastic, or fiberglass. Once the wastewater goes into the tank, it will sit there until the solids separate from the liquids, at which point they will sink to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge, while the oils and grease form a scum which rises to the top.
A special compartment keeps the scum inside the tank as the water-based liquids drain off through the second set of pipes into a filtration area called a drain field. To ensure even distribution across the entire drain field, the next set of pipes are perforated. The effluent then makes its way down through the gravel and soil before eventually making its way into the water table far below. As the effluent is passing through the soil and gravel, harmful coliform bacteria are naturally filtered out and removed from the water.
While septic tank systems vary in capacity to suit the wastewater output from your home, they are designed to be big enough to store roughly three years’ worth of sludge before needing to be emptied.
If proper maintenance is not carried out on your septic tank, which includes the periodic removal of the sludge every 2–3 years, the solids will have risen to the height of the exit pipe for the effluent fluids and travel with the liquids, unless there is an exit filter. Once they leave, they will block the perforated pipes intended for distribution on the drain field, or they will make it down to the drain field and contaminate the soil and gravel designed for the filtration of the effluent liquids.
Shorten your list to 3-5 certified septic tank pumpers for your tank’s maintenance. Look for those who have as many checks as possible against the following items:
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