Septic Tank Cleaning – How Much Does It Cost?

How Often Should You Have Your Septic Tank Cleaned and How Much Does It Cost?

Septic tanks are an unfortunate maintenance reality for homeowners who aren’t hooked into central city systems. This means that periodically, you must have them pumped out. Septic evacuation is performed by a specialist with a truck equipped with a large tank and a powerful vacuum. Waste is removed through either an opening in the tank or through a riser, if there is one installed. Then the waste is hauled away and disposed of.

Pricing varies depending on accessibility, tank size, and where you are located. The requirements for dumping are getting stricter, resulting in huge increases, as recycling plants charge per gallon dumped. Some states require dumping in treatment plants (which is a good thing environmentally). In non-regulated states, you may find septic cleaning companies dumping on farmland or other waste sites. While not environmentally friendly, this reduces the cost.

A 500-gallon tank should cost less than a 1000-2000-gallon tank or a double tank system. If your tank access requires digging, that will be built into the charge. Septic cleaning can cost between $150 and $300, with $200 being a medium range.

How often do you need to do it? It really depends on the tank size and your usage. This is something you can discuss with your septic pro when you have it performed. If you are a single person with a 500-gallon tank, you may need it done every four years but if the tank is older, you may want to have it emptied every two years. A family of four on a 1000-gallon tank will probably need service every two years. Again, it depends on the amount of usage. If you are a retired couple and homebound, you will use the septic system nearly twice as much as a working couple.

Cleaning out a septic is not an involved procedure and can usually be done in a half hour or so, unless there are problems with your septic system.

Along with regular cleanings, another occasion for inspection and/or cleaning is if your septic system backs up. If water starts backing into all your fixtures, you likely either have a plug in your main septic pipe, or your septic tank is full. You will need to decide which pro to call first. If you know you need to have your septic tank emptied anyway, this may be a less costly job than having your main pipes snaked, which costs $200-$300, depending on where they snake from. Both services would be part of a diagnostic for a system backup.

If you install a riser over your septic tank, this gives you easier access and you could even perform a visual inspection yourself in the case of a backup. If the water is overflowing, you know which task to perform first.

Septic cleaning is something you definitely want to keep on top of as too much sludge will cause the system to fail, backups in your home, tank failures, and other problems. Also, if you have a septic tank that needs to be dug for access, ask your septic pro how much less cleanings would cost with a riser installed. Then ask for a riser quote. It might save you a lot of money up the road. Get fast and free quotes for your plumbing and septic needs on our website.

*Also see our septic main line snaking article.

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