Septic tanks process the wastewater coming from home sewage pipes. Pumping a septic tank regularly (the Environmental Protection Agency advises that septic tanks are pumped at minimum every three years, for example) helps prevent system malfunctions and the need for costly repairs. Septic tanks may need to be pumped for inspection or regular cleaning, because of poor pipe and drain performance, because of a sewage backup, if there is standing water or dips in the ground around the septic tank, if there are persistent puddles over the drain field, or if there are foul odors. It’s important to have a pro come right away if odors or backup issues are present because sewage wastewater is hazardous to the health of humans and animals. Several cost factors affect the cost of septic tank pumping.
Many septic system companies charge set rates for standard pumping jobs that require no repairs or updating of parts (such as new screens). Standard rates typically start around $200 and can be more than $500, with costs increasing as the tank size increases.
Size of tank
The larger the septic tank, the more it will cost to have pumped. Tank size is usually determined by the number of bedrooms in the home—with sizes ranging from 1,000 gallons to over 2,500 gallons. The more people using a septic tank (i.e., the more people in a household or office), the more frequently the tank should be pumped.
A clogged or overflowing tank usually costs more to have pumped because it takes more effort and time. A septic tank creates a safe environment for sewage to begin decomposing. Solids (sludge) drop to the bottom of the tank, wastewater remains in the middle and a greasy layer of scum floats on top. When the tank is being overused or has not been properly pumped to remove the sludge and scum that builds up, the tank can become clogged and may overflow.
Flooded drain field
An overflow in the drain field increases the cost of a septic tank pumping. The drain field is an underground region where partially decomposed waste water is further broken down before being released into the soil. If your septic tank is overflowing, the sewage overflows into the drain field causing wastewater to potentially break through the ground surface level. Not only does this smell bad and pose a health risk, it makes the job of pumping a tank more challenging because the pros have to unclog the tank, drain out the excess surface water and unclog your pipes to get your system operating again.
- Don’t flush anything but toilet paper, and avoid putting food down the garbage disposal. These practices will help reduce the need for tank pumping because your septic system won’t become clogged or have to work as hard to break down foreign objects.