How Much Does it Cost to Pump Your Septic Tank? (And Ways to Reduce Your Bill)

If you have a septic system, sewage and effluent drains from your home to an clandestine tank where it is treated and dispersed into the ground. Microorganisms ( normally called bacteria, although this includes protozoan, fungi, and other microbes ) that develop naturally in the tank, digest and break down the organic matter. To help these microorganisms keep up with the sewage in your septic tank, every few years, you ’ ll pay around $ 450 to have your tank emptied, or pumped .
But if you own a dwelling, are buying a home, or will be selling a home with a septic arrangement, flushing out early crucial details can make your promontory eddy. How do you know when to pump, when NOT to pump, who should pump, how to reduce pumping frequency and save money ?
To provide you with expert information, we talked to Jeff Lyons of R & L Septic in Springfield, Illinois, and top real estate of the realm agentive role Sandi Van Camp of Hunt Real Estate in New York, where she works with over 82 % more individual class homes than the average Canandaigua agent .
Table of contents

What ’ sulfur in your septic tank and how it works
Why you need to pump septic ( and how frequently )
different tanks ( What character of tank do I have ? )
How much it costs to empty your tank
Additional considerations ( Costs for repair and sustenance services )
How to know when your tank needs to be pumped
How to reduce pumping frequency
Should you use bacterial drain cleaners and septic solutions ?
What to expect from a septic tank pump service
How you can cut expenses on your septic pump military service
When a septic tank car should NOT be pumped
Where to find a reputable septic serve to pump your tank
How septic system and tank condition affect resale value

What’s in your septic tank and how it works

As it breaks down, the sewage in your tank car separates into three layers. Solids settle to the bottom in a layer called sludge. anoint and grease form the peak layer, which is called trash. The level between the sludge and scum is a liquid called effluent. effluent is pre-treated effluent that drains out of the tank car into a shallow drainfield. Highly toxic methane flatulence rises to fill the space at the top of the tank .
A t-shaped exit pipe in the tank prevents solids and scum from entering the laterals, which are perforated pipes that extend away from the tank below ground. effluent is dispersed into holey materials ( such as gravel or sand ) which filters it before it percolates through the dirty. Soil microorganism regale the pre-treated effluent as it percolates through the drain plain. A uncompromising level of geothermal framework protects the drainfield ( besides called a leach field or cesspool ) from ground contaminants and pests .

Why you need to pump septic (and how often)

To keep your septic system in top stipulate, and prevent clogs that can damage laterals and induce sewage to back up into your home, you need to have your septic tank pumped every 3-5 years, or when sludge takes up more than one-third of the volume of your tank .
According to Van Camp, oftentimes you won ’ t have issues with a septic tank if you pump every three to five years. It ’ south chilling when a homeowner says “ I haven ’ t pumped my arrangement in ten years. ” As sludge settles to the buttocks of the tank, the holding capacity of the tank is diminished. Clogs and backups occur if sludge reaches the t-shaped mercantile establishment. In addition, a full tank may cause methane and hydrogen gases to escape into your home .
As the sludge builds up, it becomes increasingly difficult for the microorganisms to break it down. Emptying the tank helps the microorganism to catch up and keep your tank functioning by rights. Microorganisms live in a absolutely balanced ecosystem ( biome or colony ), which can be disrupted, imbalanced, and tied killed by family chemicals and inorganic materials that they can ’ triiodothyronine break down .
An unbalanced ecosystem can not properly break down sewage and your tank will overfill with sludge and trash until it clogs and overflows into your yard and your home .
Factors that increase how frequently you should have your septic pump :

  • Large household
  • Insufficient tank size
  • Large volumes of wastewater generated
  • Large amounts of solids (such as from a garbage disposal)
  • Tanks that have electric or moving parts
  • Unusual groundwater saturation from precipitation or flooding

Different tanks (What type of tank do I have?)

A septic system may be anaerobic ( oxygen-free ), relying on microorganisms that thrive without oxygen. aerobic tanks add oxygen to the tank for oxygen-loving microorganisms. then, there are unlike types of septic systems depending on the book and frequency of use, fortune size, water system board, groundwater saturation, and climate .

  • Conventional gravity-fed systems are the most common type of tank in the U.S. Sewage and treated wastewater move through them naturally with wastewater. There are two types of gravity-fed systems:
    • Gravel systems treat and disinfect wastewater in one or two tanks and disperse into a drainage field where it is filtered through gravel.
    • Chamber systems have been around since the 1970s. They have a tank and open-bottom chambers that filter wastewater into an enclosed drainage trench.
  • Conventional pump-fed systems have a separate pump tank and pump that pushes treated wastewater into the laterals (usually because the laterals are uphill).

Some of the more complex septic systems that have more tanks or moving parts require more maintenance in addition to regular pump :

  • Drip Distribution has a dose tank that holds and distributes wastewater through the shallow lateral system. A drip system may be aerobic or anaerobic. This system has a tank, a pump tank on a timer, and a hydraulic unit. It must be connected to electricity.
  • Sand filtration systems pump treated wastewater into a concrete box full of sand where it is filtered before it is distributed into the drainage field.
  • Mound distribution also uses sand filtration, in a raised bed drainage field. Wastewater flows from the tank into a chamber and is then pumped into the mound, filtered through sand and down into the soil. Mound systems require routine maintenance.

How much it costs to empty your tank

The follow average costs are based on project estimates and homeowner feedback. We ’ ve pulled estimates from sources with the most recent updates. In addition, we ’ ve provided you with a late real life estimate from a septic servicing in Phoenix in regulate to deliver the most accurate pricing .


National average $408
Range $287–$542
600–750 gallons $175–$300
800–1,000 gallons $225–$400
1,250–1,500 gallons $275–$500
Extremely large tanks $1000

Updated: August 24, 2021
Methodology: HomeAdvisor tracks millions of user-submitted project estimates and correlates them with local anesthetic professional estimates to deliver accurate averages .


National average $400
Range $290–$530
600 gallons $175
2,000 gallons $600 or more

Updated: June 10, 2021
Methodology: Angi tracks millions of user-submitted project estimates and correlates them with local master estimates to deliver accurate averages .


National average $450
Range $300–600

Updated: August 26, 2020
Methodology: Thumbtack tracks plan estimates from the millions of people who use its locate to connect with local anesthetic professionals every year, then shares those prices on its site .

Real life estimate

750 gallons – 2000 gallons $195*
After 5 pm and weekends $100 extra

Updated: October 28, 2021
source : R & L Septic of Springfield, Illinois
* Lyons reports that their rates are competitive for the area and are capable to change January 1, 2022. There ’ mho besides an extra charge for travel outside the county, locating the tank, digging to the cooler, adding a riser, maintenance and repairs, and inspections .

Additional considerations (Costs for repair and maintenance services)

In addition to pumping your tank, a septic company may recommend the surveil services as needed :

Add a riser $300–400
Replace effluent filter $100–$300

If sewage backs up into your dwelling, you will pay a clean service to remove waste and restore your base to livable conditions :
sewage in your dwelling ( cleaning service ) $ 7 per squarely foot. To clean 1,500 square feet of a home would cost $ 10,500 .
Location. If you live outside your septic company ’ mho military service location, you may be charged for the technician ’ randomness gas and time to drive out to your residence. many times, this charge is a flatcar fee .
Pandemic inflation. Since the pandemic, add chain issues and delay fabrication due to shortages in staff, closures, a dearth of shipping containers and trucks, rising fuel prices, and tariffs have inflated costs across the nation. This includes costs of materials and parts to service your septic tank arsenic well as the price of machinery and the monetary value to retain staff .
According to Lyons, R & L Septic ’ randomness rates haven ’ t changed but will most probable go up approximately 7.7 % January 1 and will silent be competitive for their Midwest region. If you had your septic tank pumped anterior to the pandemic, expect a higher service bang today .

How to know when your tank needs to be pumped

It ’ mho less expensive to pump your septic regularly than it is to repair a clog in your laterals or sewage backup into your home. however, if you notice these signs, you should contact a septic service to check your tank :

  • Foul odor in your lawn. Sometimes a stinky drainfield will be the first sign your septic is overfilled, but it is always a definite sign.
  • Slow draining sinks and toilets. Although one slow drain may indicate a clog inside your house, several slow drains are an indication that it’s time to pump your septic tank.
  • Green or black, soggy or spongy grass. If you have standing water, bright green or slimy black grass that is spongy or soggy, you may have an issue in your drainage field that indicates your septic has a clog and needs to be pumped and your laterals need to be repaired.
  • Foul odor in your home. A nasty odor coming from your sewer lines may not necessarily be from a full septic tank, but it is a good indication it may need to be pumped, especially if it hasn’t been serviced regularly or is due for service soon. In addition, if you don’t pump your tank regularly, methane and hydrogen sulfide may escape into your home through the sewer pipes. Methane smells like rotten eggs and hydrogen sulfide will make your eyes burn. Methane gas is both highly toxic and highly flammable.
  • Sewer backup into your home. This is an unfortunate way to find out your septic needs to be pumped. At this point, you may have more costly repairs than cleaning your home and pumping your tank. If your septic has clogged laterals, you will pay more to have them repaired or replaced.

How to reduce pumping frequency

If you ’ re finding your tank needs to be emptied more frequently than every 3-5 years, you may be overtaxing the system. hera are some tips to help your system work well so you can reduce pumping frequency :

  • Forgo the garbage disposer or minimize your use. Food solids build up fast.
  • Install water-saving faucets and toilets and run small loads of laundry to decrease the load on your septic system.
  • Don’t kill the microbes. Flushing harsh chemicals (such as paint thinner, gasoline, and medications) will most certainly affect the microorganisms hard at work in your septic tank. Drain cleaners, household cleaners and antibacterial soaps will kill microorganisms and cause an imbalance. Opt for environmentally-friendly cleansers for your household and your home. Vinegar and baking soda are septic safe and effective cleaners.
  • Don’t landscape over the drainfield with trees. Grass or peat is the most recommended covering for a drainfield. Especially avoid planting trees or plants with deep roots over or near the drainfield. Erosion and roots can damage the laterals.
  • Never flush anything besides toilet paper. These items cannot be broken down by your septic system, can kill microbes, and cause clogs and a build up of solids:
  • Oil and grease
  • Feminine products
  • Diapers (including flushable diapers)
  • Wipes (this includes septic-safe and biodegradable wipes)
  • Floss
  • Q-tips
  • Napkins, paper towels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Litter
  • Cigarette butts
  • Condoms
  • Harsh chemicals
  • Medication

Should you use bacterial drain cleaners and septic solutions?

microbial drain cleaners that claim to be septic safe can actually cause an asymmetry in the septic ecosystem. In particular, RidX floods the septic system with aggressive bacteria that attack and kill the beneficial microorganism in the cooler and drainfield. Septic-safe vinegar and baking pop or a drain snake will effectively clear a clog .
Some manufacturers promote bacteria or microorganisms septic treatments for a healthy ecosystem in your septic. however, if you ’ re doing everything right, the microorganisms living in your tank won ’ t need avail. Microorganism additions shouldn ’ metric ton be used to avoid act pump and sustenance. This includes flushing yeast, which contains microscopic fungus that will compete with the bacteria in the tank .
Adding unnecessary microorganisms to a well-adjusted tank can imbalance the tank car and cause issues. Too many microorganisms can deplete the oxygen in a tank and kill the ecosystem. If you have concerns about how well your septic is functioning, contact a professional septic serve, who can inspect your tank and, if necessary, recommend or apply an linear from a reputable manufacturer .

What to expect from a septic tank pump service

It will take approximately 20-30 minutes to pump your tank. A larger tank ( 1,000+ gallons ) may take twice vitamin a hanker ( 40-60 minutes ) to empty. How long it takes depends on the equipment used, how fast the technician knead, and early factors ( such as rule and uncovering the septic cap, inspecting and repairing any aging or malfunctioning parts ). here is what you should expect from a septic tank car pump service :

Locating your tank

If your septic hood international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine obvious, it might be buried. Your septic service might be able to find it by locating and following the sewer tune. however, be prepared for them to ask for an as-built diagram, which you can get from your local county records office .

Digging up a buried septic cap

If your septic is buried, the septic serve may have to dig it up. This is a well time to ask them to install a septic riser, which is a shriek that extends the cap to ground grade for slowly access .

Measuring solids

The septic technician will measure the charge of sludge ( the solids ) at the buttocks of the tank with a tube called a sludge judge. This measurement will tell the technician if your septic should be pumped. Accumulation changes over clock time depending on family size and how efficiently the septic is working. septic services maintain a record of your sludge measurements, which can alert them to issues .

Removal of solids (and liquids)

The technician should scrape the bottom of the tank to ensure all the solids will be removed. They will then insert a hosiery to pump out the solids. Although the objective is removal of the solids to maximize your tank ’ sulfur capability, liquids must be removed to get to the solids .


A thoroughly septic avail will clean the filter at the same prison term your tank is pumped and inspect the system for any ask maintenance .

Wastewater disposal

The septic service will remove the effluent from your property and qualify of it in a sewage discussion plant, or it may be processed and used angstrom fertilizer as your state and local laws allow or require ( preceptor ’ metric ton shoot the messenger ) .

How you can cut expenses on your septic pumping service

When you contact a overhaul to have your septic pump, be surely to ask what is included in the service and what you ’ ll pay supernumerary for. Some of the excess charges may include :

  • Locating your tank
  • Digging to the septic cap
  • Adding a riser
  • Inspection
  • Maintenance

A homeowner who needs to save on the monetary value of pumping a septic cooler should locate the tank and dig to the detonator if necessary. To avoid damage to your tank and home or injury to yourself, you should not attempt to clean, empty or service your tank yourself. Entering a septic tank is highly dangerous .

When a septic tank should NOT be pumped

There are times when it can be bad and even dangerous to have your septic pump. It may sound like a good idea to have your septic pump if it ’ sulfur slow drain due to flooding or ground saturation from a storm. however, the pressure of the water system in the earth can cause an empty cooler to collapse or come up out of the ground .
If the septic structure is aging, a septic inspection should be performed before it is pumped to assure it won ’ thymine collapse .
A good septic military service will not recommend pumping if the sludge flush is depleted. Liquids will drain through the drainfield. You may be charged a service fee for the septic military service ’ sulfur time .
If you ’ ra selling your home, you should not have your tank pumped within 3-4 weeks anterior to an inspection. This can prevent an effective screen and may be considered an act of fraud. The septic examiner will have the tank pumped immediately before the inspection .

Where to find a reputable septic service to pump your tank

If you ’ re raw to your home, services like Angi, HomeAdvisor, and HomeGuide can refer you to a reputable local septic avail. however, your real estate agentive role, neighbors, friends, coworkers, or even a Google search can besides point you in the right commission. Check reviews on Google, social media, and BBB to ensure the service you hire has a thoroughly reputation. besides, confirm that the service you choose has the required state and local anesthetic licenses. It ’ randomness always a good mind to get bids from three unlike services and ask what is included with the serve.

How septic system and tank condition affect resale value

As of 2015, there were 21 million rural homes on septic systems throughout the U.S. While some buyers may perceive a lower prize, there is actually no difference in measure between a home with a good operational septic and a like base on municipal gutter. A intimate buyer will appreciate not paying municipal gutter fees. According to Van Camp, it ’ s the real estate agentive role ’ s job to educate buyers. That said, if your septic is failing or illegally installed, your state of matter may require you to repair or replace the system before you sell .

Bottom line

If you live in a home with a septic system, maintain your tank by having it pumped every 3-5 years to keep it running smoothly, protect your class, and prevent dearly-won damages to the tank car deoxyadenosine monophosphate good as nasty backups in your home or yard. A well maintained tank will last 40 years or longer .
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