Septic Tank Pumping: A Cost Guide

Kenneth Wilson

Homeowners looking to save some money on costly home repairs might need to pay extra attention to their septic tank systems.

Case in point: you will spend about $469 on septic tank pumping costs. Meanwhile, if you leave it overlooked, a total septic system replacement can cost you a whopping $5,750 to $11,500. That's thousands in potential savings we're talking about. Residential septic tanks need to be regularly inspected and pumped to avoid malfunctions.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strongly recommends septic tank inspection once every two to three years, with mechanical pumping every three to five years to empty the tank. However, systems that have heavy use can benefit from annual pumping.

What is Septic Tank Pumping?

Simply put, septic pumping removes all the sludge in the bottom of a tank. It is ideally done before the excessive sludge build-up already blocks the outlet pipe– where the liquid typically passes through into the drain field. If your septic system sees heavy usage, a septic service professional will advise you to pump your tanks when the floating scum layer (between the sludge and water) is anywhere near six inches from the outlet pipe.

At this point, you might be wondering, "how much does it cost to pump a septic tank?" or "how much does septic tank pumping cost?" Fortunately, you won't have to break the bank over septic tank pump-out costs compared to repairs.

Septic Tank Pumping Cost Overview

The average cost to pump a septic tank is $469. Expect to spend between $330 and $623 to have a septic tank pumped for a broader range. Of course, this still heavily depends on several factors, such as the size of your tank, usage, and maintenance.

Large-scale septic tank pumping costs may go up to $1,000 or more. Although some homeowners may seem like a daunting and stinky task, staying on top of your septic system upkeep is crucial.  To ensure your septic tanks function correctly, have them pumped every two to three years. Doing so will also save you from costly septic replacement expenses at $5,750 to $11,500. (Related: Septic System: A Cost & Consumer Guide)

Factors Affecting Septic Tank Pumping Cost

Several factors increase the cost of having a septic tank pumped– two of them being the size and usage. Small tanks and tanks that are used frequently will need regular pumping. Let's discuss the other influential factors below so you can prepare your budget accordingly.


Simply put, the size of your septic tank will determine the total cost of cleaning or pumping. On average, septic tank pump-out costs approximately $0.35 per gallon, with standard tanks ranging between 600 and 2,000 gallons in size. A 600-gallon septic tank will cost you $210 on average, while a 2,000 gallon-sized septic tank will run for $700 or more.

Accordingly, larger septic tanks can go for a while between cleanings, while smaller ones will need to be pumped more often to ensure optimal performance. Here's a quick overview of septic tank pumping prices based on their size:

Septic Tank Size (Gallons)

Average Costs

600 - 750 Gallons

$210 - $345

800 - 1,000 Gallons

$258 - $460

1,250 - 1,500 Gallons

$316 - $575

1,750 - 2,000+ Gallons

$373 - $700+


Another factor that may influence the price of septic tank pumping is the location of your property. Depending on where you live, you can ask around for three to five quotes from septic tank companies to know the average service rate in your location.

Having a septic tank pumped costs the cheapest in Minneapolis at $201 to $316. Meanwhile, the septic tank pumping cost in Jacksonville, Florida, and Concord, New Hampshire runs at $293 to $500. Notably, the average cost to get a septic tank pump is the most expensive in Portland, Oregon starting at $506 to $862.


As previously mentioned, it is ideal to have your septic tank pumped at least once in 3 to 5 years. However, the costs do not stop there alone. You will also need to allocate some funds for the necessary maintenance expenses. It will cost you somewhere between $115 and $1,150 on average.

Check the table below for a quick rundown of septic tank maintenance costs:

Septic Tank Maintenance

Average Costs


$230 - $920


$172 - $460

Effluent Filter Cleaning

$115 - $172

Sewer Line Inspection

$287 - $1,437

Septic System Inspection (With no camera)

$115 - $575

Field Aeration

$1,150 - $2,300


You will also need to have a septic system inspection, ranging from $115 to $1,035. It refers to a visual inspection of your septic tank system.

For a separate visual inspection of the lines, expect to pay $287 to $900. It is ideal if you are dealing with problems such as slow drains or having trouble identifying the source of the problem.


If your septic tank system sees heavy usage, it only means you will need to pump it more frequently. It’s that simple.

In particular, if you regularly use a lot of water daily, shove excess food down the garbage disposal, and invite a bunch of guests over for events– these are some signs you need to pump your tank often.

Pumping Frequency

We already discussed how more usage equates to a higher pumping frequency on your end. Now, the difference between spending $469 every two years from three to five years. It all boils down to how you manage your septic tank and leach field.

Fortunately, there are things you can follow to decrease your septic tank pumping frequency:

  • Consider composting or recycling instead of garbage disposal.
  • Try not to throw every junk down the sink, including grease. It may only cause clogging problems.
  • Divert wastewater from your laundry to a different system.
  • Avoid parking your car on top of where your leach field is located. It will only cause soil compression and may decrease its efficiency.

Emptying a Tank

Septic tank pumping doesn’t typically require you to do a complete drain out. You will only need to remove most of the sludge, which costs around $316 to $667 on average.

Unless you are moving, removing, or replacing your septic system, you do not need to drain the tank completely.

Septic Tank Cleaning

After the tank pumping process, it's always a good idea to give your septic tank a thorough cleaning. It will cost you somewhere between $115 and $920. If you're dealing with large commercial systems, expect to shell out some more on cleaning expenses.

Some homeowners tend to mix up septic tank pumping with cleaning. Let's shed light on the matter; pumping gets rid of the effluent. Meanwhile, cleaning removes any debris from the filters, pipes, and pumps.

What are the Benefits of Professional Septic Tank Pumping Services?

Although it is always tempting to do a DIY project to cut costs, it's better to leave the job to professionals. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with toxic sludge when it comes to pumping a septic tank. These need to be disposed of properly in designated containers, following safety protocols in mind.

The safest, most cost-effective route would be to hire a septic tank pumping professional in your area. Here are some other benefits you can expect by hiring a professional to get the job done:

  • Using the Correct Equipment: To properly do septic tank pumping, you will need to have the correct equipment. It includes jets with high water pressure, a gully sucker, and other relevant tools. You can count on professional services to be equipped with all the proper equipment. They will also ensure adequate sewage disposal, eliminating the hassle on your end.
  • Saves you Time and Money: A septic tank pumping project is not cheap. If you are looking for a more cost-effective option, it is best to ask for professional assistance to get the job done. These experts are backed by proper training and experience to get the most efficient results. If you want to make a DIY approach, you may end up wasting a lot of your time, given your lack of experience in tank pumping.
  • Guaranteed Safety: In dealing with sewage and septic effluent, you are also exposing yourself to a possible infection. Hence, you will only be putting your health and safety at risk if you want to pump a septic tank yourself. Not to mention, harmful bacteria and toxic gases emitted by the tank may contaminate your surroundings and expose the property's occupants to various illnesses. You wouldn't want that to happen. Hiring septic pumping pros will ensure the job is carried out safely. They will be wearing protective gear, safety gloves, and masks, among others, while on the job.
  • Increased Property Value: Most prospective buyers may ask you about your property's septic maintenance. If you can prove to them how the system is properly functioning, this can be a good selling point which may only land you excellent offers. A septic system in excellent condition and has been properly tended for is a great way to increase your home's worth. Similarly, having septic in poor condition will affect your property's value in the market. Should you have plans to sell your house at some point, it's better to avail of regular septic tank pumping services.
  • Avoid Sewage Backups: Hazardous sewage backups can become a potential problem if your septic tank gets excessively full. Keep in mind that raw sewage contains bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Any exposure may cause infection such as leptospirosis. If you follow a routine septic pumping schedule, you can count on your contractor to manage solid waste efficiently before it turns into a messy problem.

At the end of the day, it’s best to discuss your home needs and options by getting a personalized quote from local septic tank pros.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it necessary to pump your septic tank?

Over time, sludge will build up at the bottom of your tank. If you do not pump your tank, the sludge will soon leak into the leach field and back into the pipes. Your tank might fail and eventually need to be replaced if it is not maintained and pumped.

How often should I pump a septic tank?

Typically, the tank needs pumping every 3 to 5 years. However, factors such as tank size and the number of residents may require you to clean your tank sooner than usual.

What are telling signs that a septic tank is full?

A sign suggesting a full septic tank is if the smell comes from the tank and draining field. Another sign you can look for is backed-up sewage in your leach field or home.

What will happen if a septic tank is not pumped?

We have listed what may happen if you cannot pump your septic tank within 3 to 5 years:

  • Sludge building up
  • Field and groundwater contamination due to build-up
  • Clogged or broken pipes
  • Clogged pumps
What are the possible causes of septic tank odor?

The primary cause of smelly tanks is clogged drains, a blocked venting system, and a full tank. Furthermore, it can also potentially cause harm to your health and your home.

Is septic tank pumping cheaper than repairs?

A septic tank system could be expensive to repair, depending on the severity of its damage. A typical repair cost may range from $650 to $2,900, while significant repairs can even reach $5,000. It is one of the chores you don’t want to skip if you want to trim down some costs.

Final Thoughts

Septic tank pumping requires proper training, expertise, and in some areas– licenses. Hence, the best route is to hire a septic tank professional to get the job done.

Although it may seem dirty and time-consuming, tank pumping is essential to keep the entire system in good shape.

If you decide to overlook various septic tank issues, this may only cost you more on major repairs in the long run. As a responsible homeowner, it's best to be smart when it comes to necessary expenses.

Kenneth Wilson
September 30, 2021
Cost Guides, Plumbing

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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