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Septic Tank Cleaning Cost: What You Need To Know

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Having a house with a septic tank means that you will need to get the septic tank cleaned periodically. Knowing that you need to call for regular septic tank pumping (also known as septic tank cleaning). Here is everything you need to know about getting your tank pumped.


What is a septic tank?

What is a septic tank? A septic tank is a wastewater treatment container designed to hold sewage from a home or business. The tank is typically underground and connected to a building’s sewage system. Septic tanks can vary in size, but most have a capacity of 1,000 to 3,000 gallons.


How much does septic tank pumping cost?

Septic tank cleaning costs can range from $100 to $500 or higher, depending on the size of your septic tank.

What costs are involved when you are getting your septic tank pumped? While many septic trucks use a flat rate for a simple pump. 

The factors that affect the cost of pumping your septic tank will depend on several factors.


What’s involved in pumping a septic tank?

After you call for a septic tank pumping, they will come with a vacuum truck and locate the tank lid. Usually, when you hire someone to get your septic tank cleaned, it involves removing the toilet paper, greywater, sludge layer, effluent, and scum layer from the tank. This is the most common and basic pump charge. However, other factors can increase the pumping cost.

Make sure you treat your septic tank right. Here are the best septic safe toilet papers.


Septic tank size

There are a variety of septic tank sizes. They can range from 500 gallons to 1750 gallons tank. A 500-gallon tank under normal usage for a family of 4 would need to be pumped every year. A 1750-gallon tank would take a few years for a typical family to fill.

The septic service trucks themselves can range up to 5000 gallons and can usually clean the whole tank in one visit.

This depends on how full the pump truck is before it arrives. If you do not have a drain field, you may have a larger tank to accommodate the extra water usage.


Availability of septic pumping trucks 

In some areas, there has been a shortage of septic pump trucks. This has led to an increase in demand for septic tank services. When demand for these services goes up, there can be a corresponding price increase.


Travel time to a local drop off lagoon or landfill

It used to be that septic trucks could dispose of their waste in any landfill. Now there are disposal sites designated as waste disposal sites for sewage. If there aren’t any landfills nearby your home, the pump truck will need to travel extra to dispose of the sewage.


Time it takes to clean a septic tank

For a straightforward pump, meaning there is no other labor and time involved. Cleaning the septic tank will be in between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the truck and the size of the tank.


Location of the septic tank

Other factors that may be involved in getting your tank pumped will be the holding tank’s location. If your tank is hard to find or needs excavation, it will cost more. You could be charged machine hours and labor if this is the case. These are rare and only if your tank has been neglected for a period of years.


Location of your house

Depending on your house’s location, you may be charged a travel charge for getting your tank pumped. This can be either a flat rate or based on a per-mile basis. The price of gas can have a huge impact on the cost as well. This cost is usually passed on to the customer with an increase in tanks pumped.


Additional septic thank charges

Additional charges that can arise are if there are blockages in the lines running to the tank or to the drain field (hair and paper towels often cause this).

If this is the case, then you will be charged an hourly rate depending on how long the blockage takes to get cleared. There are other things that need to happen, like a riser installation or septic system maintenance, you may incur other charges.

The best thing to do is ask what the charge is and what else you think may be needed to get a good idea of what you will pay. 

If there are repairs that are needed you will also be charged for any septic tank repairs that are incurred on your septic system.


Septic Tank Pumping

Signs That Your Septic Tank Is Full

Most septic tanks need to be pumped every 1-5 years, depending on the size of the tank and the number of people living in the home. However, there are a few signs that your septic tank may be full and in need of pumping:

1. Slow or clogged drains: If your drains are draining more slowly than usual or if they frequently become clogged, it could be a sign that your septic tank is full. When the septic tank becomes full, sewage has nowhere to go but back up the drains.

2. Bad smells: Another telltale sign of a full septic tank is bad odors coming from your drains or other areas of your property. If you notice an unpleasant smell, it’s time to call in a professional to pump out your septic tank.

3. Water pooling on the ground: If you notice water pooling on the ground near your septic system, it’s a sign that effluent is overflowing from the tank. This is a serious problem that should be addressed immediately before it causes damage to your property or contaminates groundwater.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call a professional to have your septic tank pumped.


What is the cost of a septic tank cleaning?

The average tank that would be pumped on a weekly or bi-weekly basis would cost anywhere between $100 and $300. You may find it for as little as $75 depending on all of the above factors, but budgeting for $100 to $300 per cleaning is the best bet.

Of course, pricing will depend on all of the above factors. Once the size of the tank gets above 1000 gallons, the price can go up to $400 to $500, depending on the time and labor involved in finding your tank.

Ultimately the cost for getting your septic tank cleaned can change radically with all of the above various factors in mind.


How often should I have a septic tank cleaned?

There are a ton of different answers online. The best I have found is a family of four should have their tank pumped once a year. If that tank is 500 gallons, this is, of course, using a septic drain field system.

Septic systems with no leach field will fill up possibly within a week or less, depending on how large of a tank. These are essentially holding tanks. If you start to notice a septic tank smell in your house, it could be time to get another pump out.


How do they find the tank?

If you do not know where your septic tank is, your septic service professional can look to get the tank for you at an additional charge. This will involve taking a prodding stick and walking around the property pushing the stick in it every couple of feet in an attempt to locate the lid of the septic tank.

Next, they will need to dig out the lead by removing the sod in the dirt. You can save yourself money by digging this out yourself.

Unlike a cesspool,  septic tanks are quite easy to find.


How often should a septic tank be pumped?

The time in between your tank cleanings is going to depend on your usage, the size of the tank, and how many people are in your household.

As a family of four with a drain field, and we get ours pumped once a year. Our tank is 500 gallons. We do our best to conserve water. We don’t have a garbage disposal; those will fill your tank very quickly. Keep in mind that everything that goes down the drain needs to be pumped out can help you curb your water waste.

If we had a 1500 gallon tank, it would only need to be pumped once every 3 years or more if it was just two people.

Your household’s water usage will depend on a multitude of things. For instance, if your toilet is running, water is going to fill the tank faster. In general, more people means a larger amount of toilets flushing, a larger volume of solids and liquids which means more frequent pumping.

The simple answer is whenever your septic tank is full


How long do septic tanks last?

Most septic tanks last about 20-30 years before they need to be replaced. Usually, the drain field will need to be replaced at this point as well. If you need to replace your septic tank, it can cost upwards of $10,000 to $25,000.


Final thoughts on septic tank pumping and cleaning

Before you have your septic tank pumped, it is always a good idea to ask how much they charge for the cleaning and what it covers. When you think it is going to be more than a basic pump and clean and then it’s a good idea to mention it first. That way, the qualified septic professional can come out with the proper equipment.

There are likely several quality septic services in your area. Ask around, or if you need one right away, you can search for a quality commercial septic cleaner near you. Good luck!


Click Here to Find a Local Septic System Professional


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