How Much Does Septic Tank Pumping Cost?

Margaret Wack
Written by Margaret Wack
Reviewed by Joseph Wood
Updated April 22, 2022
Septic tank with an open cover and green hose for pumping
Artur Henryk Bialosiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Highlights

  • On average, a one-time septic tank pump costs $400, or about $0.30 per gallon.

  • It’s usually safer and more cost-effective to leave this task to a septic pro.

  • You should get your septic tank pumped every three to five years.

  • How often you pump the tank varies depending on size of the tank and the number of people in your home.

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Septic tank pumping may not be the most glamorous of tasks, but it’s one you should stay on top of. Septic tanks need to be pumped every two to three years to work properly. The service costs an average of $400 for a one-time pump, but left for decades, septic cleaning can turn into septic replacement—and cost you $5,000 to $10,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Pump a Septic Tank Per Gallon?

How big your septic tank is will affect the cost of cleaning. It costs an average of about $0.30 per gallon to pump a septic tank, and most septic tanks range somewhere between 600 and 2,000 gallons in size. The size of your septic tank will also affect how long you can go between cleanings because larger septic tanks don’t need to be pumped as often as smaller models.

Most tanks rely on gravity to work. Wastewater flows into the tank, which is buried in the ground outside your home, and water in turn is carried from the tank to a drainage field using sloped pipes.

How Much Does It Cost to Pump a Septic Tank Near You?

Septic tank pumping costs vary depending on location. Here are a few examples of how much it costs to pump a septic tank around the country:

CityCost
Long Island, NY$275–$515
Concord, NH$255–$330
Jacksonville, FL$245–$435
Denver$260–$350
Portland, OR$440–$750
Boise, ID$250–$440
Minneapolis$175–$275
Phoenix$360–$600
Little Rock, AR$260–$510
Milwaukee$245–$320

If you’re wondering how much septic tank pumping costs where you live, getting quotes from septic tank companies near you can help you know the going rate for your area.

How Much Does It Cost to Pump a Septic Tank Yourself?

Septic tank pumping is a job that’s best left to professionals. Not only is pumping sludge from your septic pretty unpleasant, but it also requires specialized equipment you probably don’t have lying around the house. After you remove waste from the septic tank, it needs to be properly transported and disposed of, too.

For most homeowners, it’s safer and more cost-effective to leave this task to a pro. You can reach out to a local septic tank cleaner to discuss your options and receive a personalized quote.

What Factors Influence the Cost to Pump a Septic Tank?

The main factors that influence the cost to pump a septic tank are size and usage. Smaller tanks and tanks that experience more frequent use will need to be pumped more often.

Size

Pumping a 600-gallon septic tank may cost as little as $175, while pumping a 2,000 gallon septic tank may cost $600 or more.

Usage

Tanks with high usage will need to be pumped more regularly. For example, if you frequently use large amounts of water, put food down the garbage disposal, or host parties with lots of guests, you’ll need to pump your septic tank more often.

FAQs About Septic Tank Pumping

How does a septic tank work?

Unlike an urban sewer system that runs wastewater into a central drainage system, septic tanks are a house-by-house system. They are the ultimate destination for all your house’s wastewater—from bathtubs, showers, sinks, toilets, and washing machines. Wastewater flows into a tank buried in the ground outside your home, and then water runs from the tank to a drainage field using sloped pipes.

Why do you need to pump your septic tank?

Sludge builds up at the bottom of your septic tank over time. If you don’t pump your tank, the sludge will eventually leak into your leach field and back up into your pipes. Without regular pumping and maintenance, your septic tank could fail and need to be replaced.

How much does it cost to repair a septic system?

If you damage your septic system, it could be expensive to repair. Septic system repair costs run $650 to $2,900, and major repairs can be even more expensive at $5,000 or more. In short, septic tank pumping is a chore you don’t want to skip. 

If you’re having trouble with your septic system, get in touch with a septic tank maintenance professional near you to discuss your options.

What causes septic tank odor?

Septic tank odor can happen because of a full tank, clogged drains, or blocked venting systems. Not only is a smelly septic tank pretty unpleasant, but it can also pose a potential hazard to yourself and your home.

How often do I need to pump my septic tank?

How often you need to pump your tank depends on the size of your tank and how many people live in your home. The average recommended frequency is every three to five years. However, it could be significantly more or less than that. For example, a single person with a 1,000-gallon septic tank may only need to pump it every nine to 12 years, while a five-person family with the same sized tank may need to pump it every two to four years.

“Don't skip pumpings,” says Expert Board Review member and Master Plumber at Boston Standard company, Joseph Wood. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the damage from a sewer backup in your home can be catastrophic.”

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