How Much Does Septic Tank Pumping Cost In 2024? – Forbes Home

How does a septic tank work?

A septic tank is an important part of a wastewater treatment plant and is an underground wastewater treatment system commonly found in rural and suburban areas. The tank, built underground, is divided into two chambers. When the wastewater enters the tank, it goes through a settling and separation process. In a septic tank, heavier solid waste particles settle to the bottom and form a layer called sludge. Meanwhile, lighter substances like fats and oils rise to the top and form a layer called foam. Between these layers is the middle layer, called wastewater, which contains mostly clearer water with fewer contaminants.

Your septic tank is a natural decomposition system for household waste. As mud and scum fills this tank, it begins to break down naturally due to bacteria in the surrounding soil. Once everything in your septic tank has broken down, the liquid drains out through another pipe that connects to your home's sewer system. This liquid contains all the nutrients released during decomposition, ensuring that clean water is returned to the groundwater system.

Cost of pumping a septic tank

If you're like most people, you probably don't think about your septic tank often. But it's actually a pretty important part of your home's plumbing system, and if it gets clogged or damaged, you'll definitely notice the effects. The cost of pumping a septic tank depends on factors such as the size of your tank, the frequency of pumping, and where you live.

Size of the septic tank

When it comes to septic tanks, bigger is not always better. In fact, it can be just the opposite. Larger tanks are generally more expensive to pump because they require more time and effort to drain properly, which can result in higher costs compared to smaller tanks.

Pump frequency

The frequency with which you have your septic tank pumped can affect the cost. Regular maintenance and pumping will help prevent excessive solids buildup and ensure the tank is functioning optimally. Sticking to a recommended pumping schedule can result in lower costs over time compared to infrequent or delayed pumping.


The geographical location of your property can also affect the costs. Septic tank pumping prices can vary by region and even within different areas of the same locality. Factors such as the local economy, competition between service providers and transportation costs can influence price fluctuations.


Pumping your septic tank really depends on usage, i.e. the number of people in your household. Repeated or prolonged use of showers and running garbage disposals and washing machines add up because the more people use the shower, the faster your tank fills.

By size

Most tanks have a capacity of around 750 to 1,000 gallons, the latter usually large enough for a five-bedroom home. The costs can vary greatly depending on size. For example, pumping a one-toilet household can cost little $100 to $200while a larger 2,000 gallon septic tank can cost around $800.

By location

Costs may vary depending on location. For example, it can be as low as $200 to $350 in Boise, Idaho or as high as $350 to $800 in Portland, Oregon. Customers are likely to pay more if they live in an area with a higher cost of living.

Per gallon

The larger the tank, the higher the cost, but the average cost is $0.30 per gallon.

By frequency

If you pump your septic tank frequently the cost will be less, but it is best to wait until the septic tank is almost full to reduce costs. It is important to have your tank checked every three years to determine sludge and scum levels.

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Septic tank maintenance costs

Aside from the cost of pumping your septic tank, you should also consider other costs of maintaining your septic tank, which, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), includes an inspection every three years. Maintenance costs may vary between $200 and $800. Maintenance can include clearing clogs, inspecting sewer lines and field aeration, as well as tank replacement, which can cost several thousand dollars if necessary.


Tank cleaning is only necessary if your septic tank is not functioning properly. However, the septic tank filter should be cleaned every three to five years to prevent blockages and ensure that liquid waste flows smoothly through the system.

Filter cleaning can cost between $200 to $400, depending on your location, but this service is usually included in the cost of septic tank pumping. Sometimes other issues arise that need to be addressed.


Most septic tanks function well when properly maintained and have enough bacteria to eliminate scum and sludge. But occasionally things happen, such as foreign matter entering the tank and slowing the rate, which may require the addition of enzymes. The cost of additives can vary between 20 to a few hundred dollars.


If an inspector finds that your septic tank system is not operating efficiently, repairs are necessary. This may include repairing any lids, pipes or risers that you may walk under $100. But more complex problems like dealing with compacted soil near the drainage field can run into the thousands. On average, septic tank repairs can cost several hundred to several hundred dollars $4,000, depending on the work to be done. A replacement is more expensive.

When is pumping a septic tank necessary?

Septic tank pumping is an important maintenance task that should be performed regularly to ensure the proper functioning of your septic system. Here are some signs that it may be time to pump your septic tank:

Slow running drains

If you notice that your drains, including sinks, toilets, showers, or bathtubs, are draining slowly or are becoming clogged, it could be a sign that your septic tank is almost full. When the tank is full, it can no longer effectively separate and treat wastewater, causing drainage problems in your plumbing system.

foul smell from drains

If you notice a foul smell in your home, it could be an indication that your septic tank is full or malfunctioning. If sludge and scum have built up in your septic tank to the point where it is creating an unpleasant odor, it is time to call a professional to pump out and inspect your septic tank.

Sewer backup

A sewer backup is a clear indication that your septic tank needs to be pumped out immediately. If wastewater is backing up in your drains, toilets, or other facilities, it is a sign of a significant problem in the sewage system. Sewer blockages pose a health risk and require quick, professional action.

DIY Cost of Pumping a Septic Tank Versus Hiring a Professional

You may think that you can solve the problem with your septic tank yourself, but in this case you have to resist. A professional has the proper equipment for the job and is familiar with handling biohazardous waste that must be disposed of according to EPA guidelines. Added to this is the problem of methane gas from septic tanks, which is dangerous and can cause suffocation and fire hazards.

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How to save money on pumping a septic tank

You cannot save money on pumping a septic tank, as only a professional can do it. However, there are some good tips you can use to reduce costs. This includes ensuring that your household uses less water and that laundry is only completely washed at different times throughout the week. You also want to avoid flushing the wrong things like feminine products and wipes down the toilet.

Also be careful about what you pour down the drain – never pour cooking oil and grease or toxic cleaning products down the drain. Your garbage disposal shouldn't replace your trash can, so try not to use it too often. Finally, make sure your septic tank lids are clear. To save on labor costs, it is advisable to expose them before a professional arrives.

To determine the average costs in this article, members of the editorial team surveyed a number of providers nationally and locally. All averages were accurate at the time of publication and are subject to change.

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