How Much Does it Cost to Pump a Septic Tank?

Typical Range:

$287 - $545

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 5,747 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated August 24, 2021

Reviewed by Jeff Botelho, Licensed Journeyman Plumber.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Septic Tank Pumping Cost

On average, it costs $410 to clean or pump a septic tank. Most homeowners spend between $287 and $545. It’s possible for extremely large tanks to run $1,000 or more. Most tanks need pumping every 3 to 5 years with inspections every 1 to 3 years.

Average Cost to Pump a Septic Tank

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Where are you located?

National Average $410
Typical Range $287 - $545
Low End - High End $200 - $1,150

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 5,747 HomeAdvisor members.

Septic Tank Pumping Cost Near You

Long Island, NY$275 - $515
Concord, NH$255 - $330
Jacksonville, FL$245 - $435
Denver, CO$260 - $350
Portland, OR$440 - $750
Boise, ID$250 - $440
Minneapolis, MN$175 - $275
Phoenix, AZ$360 - $600
Little Rock, AR$260 - $510
Milwaukee, WI$245 - $320
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Septic Tank Pumping Prices by Size

Size (in gallons)Pumping Cost
600 - 750$175 - $300
800 - 1,000$225 - $400
1,250 - 1,500$275 - $500
1,750 - 2,000+$325 - $600+

RV Septic Tank Cleaning Cost

a septic system pumping costs $400 or $200 to $1,100 on average

You’ll spend $150 to $250 to clean out an RV septic tank. Also called holding tanks, you’ll end up dumping these yourself more often as they don’t hold much and need frequent emptying.

You’ll dump this into areas marked for RV holding disposal. So, pumping might cost nothing, but when you go to store it for the winter, you want to clean out that black water tank.

Septic Tank Maintenance Cost

While you might get your tank pumped every 3 to 5 years, it’s not the only septic tank maintenance cost. Expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more every few years on maintenance.

Maintenance TaskCost
Pumping$200 - $800
Jetting$150 - $400
Effluent Filter Clean/Change$100 - $150
Sewer Line Inspection Cost$250 - $1,250
Septic System Inspection (No Camera)$100 - $500
Field Aeration (Fracking)$1,000 - $2,000

Septic System Inspection Cost

A septic system inspection costs anywhere from $100 to $900. Your pro will do a visual inspection of the system. If you want a camera inspection of the lines, that’ll add $250 to $900 but it’s only necessary if you have slow drains and can’t identify the problem.

  • Initial Inspection: $250-$500

  • Annual Inspection: $100-$150

  • Camera Inspection: $250-$900

How often do you need to pump a septic tank?

In most cases, you’ll want to get your septic tank pumped every 3 to 5 years. However, you might end up cleaning it out every year or every 20 years. It really depends on two factors:

  1. Tank Size

  2. Number of Residents

The following table gives you the most common frequency, but you should get an annual inspection by a professional just in case.

Septic Tank Cleaning Frequency
PeopleTank Size (gallons)Frequency (years)
1750 - 1,0009 - 12
2 - 3900 - 1,2503.5 - 8
4 - 51,000 - 1,5002 - 4
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Septic Tank Pumping Frequency Factors

The difference between spending $400 every two years vs every five years might come down to how you treat your septic tank and leach field. Some things you’ll want to consider and possibly change include:

  • Garbage disposal use. To maximize time, don’t use a garbage disposal. Consider recycling or composting.

  • Coffee ground waste. Don’t throw this down the sink.

  • Entertainment. If you host many dinner parties, expect frequent maintenance.

  • Grease. Don’t put grease down your drain. This clogs the drain and can clog the septic tank.

  • Laundry. Spread out your loads, divert the wastewater to a separate system and never use dry laundry soap.

  • Parking. Don’t put cars on top of your leach field. It’ll compress the soil, ruining its efficiency.

  • Buildings. Don’t put any structures, temporary or permanent, on a leach field.

Aerobic Septic System Maintenance Cost

Adding bacteria to an aerobic system costs anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on the size, type and any prep work needed. Most homeowners pay in the range of $100 to $200, but you might pay a little less if you combine this with pumping or cleaning.

Cost to Empty a Septic Tank

Most often, you’ll only need to empty it if you’re removing it, moving it or replacing it. Replacement costs include fees to empty your septic tank prior to removal. Replacing a septic tank costs $3,200 to $10,300. Pumping out a tank doesn’t always mean draining it out completely, just removing most of the sludge.

Septic Tank Cleaning Cost

To clean the tank after pumping, you’ll spend anywhere from $100 to $800 (or more for extremely large commercial systems). Pumping removes the effluent while cleaning removes debris and solids from pumps, pipes and some filters.

Cleaning Methods

Methods for cleaning include:

  • Pumping: Removes the effluent from the septic tank

  • Jetting: Removes buildup from the pipes

Most septic system repairs cost $650 to $2,900. Repairs come most often from neglected filters and not pumping and inspecting the system regularly.

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DIY Septic Tank Pumping vs. Hire a Pro

Don’t pump your own septic system. Sludge pumped out of the tank must be stored for transport in appropriate containers and disposed of following important safety procedures.

In most cases, homeowners find it easier and more cost-effective to have septic tank pumping done by a professional who has the right tools and storage equipment to handle sludge and scum safely for disposal. It’s always safer, faster and often more cost effective to simply hire a local septic pumping professional.


How does a septic tank work?

Unlike a municipal sewer system, where waste runs into a central drainage system maintained by the municipality, your septic tank is individual to your property. Wastewater from your home that comes from your showers, toilets, sink drains and washing machines flows to your septic tank.

When wastewater enters your septic tank, it is naturally divided into three parts:

  • Sludge: Solid waste sinks to the bottom of the tank, where bacteria in the tank breaks down the solid matter, turning it into sludge.

  • Water: Called greywater which isn’t suitable for drinking but isn’t considered toxic either.

  • Scum: Fats and oils that float to the top of the tank.

Outlet and inlet pipe positions and baffles keep sludge and scum from leaving the tank. Wastewater, the effluent, moves down pipes to the drain field.

What are the signs that your septic tank is full?

Signs your septic tank is full include:

  • Smells coming from the drain field, tank or drains in the home.

  • Backed up sewage in your home or leach field.

What happens if a septic tank is not pumped?

If you don’t pump your septic tank regularly (every 3-5 years, although that range may shorten or lengthen depending on a few factors) a few things happen:

  • Sludge builds up.

  • The buildup begins seeping into the drain field, contaminating the field and possibly the groundwater.

  • Pipes get clogged and break.

  • Pumps get clogged and break.

  • You’ll end up destroying your drain field and need to replace it.

What’s the difference between a septic tank and a cesspool?

The differences between a cesspool and septic tank is in how they function to disperse waste. The costs to pump them are the same.

  • A cesspool is simply a lined pit with perforated walls into which wastewater flows and slowly disperses into the surrounding soil. Once the surrounding soil is saturated, you’ll need to dig a new cesspool. In many areas in the U.S., cesspools aren’t permitted, and you’ll need to install a septic system instead.

  • A septic system operates the same way as a cesspool but in two distinct components: The septic tank and drain field.

    • The septic tank allows wastewater in and using carefully positioned inlet and outlet hoses, only lets grey water out to the drain field. Scum and solid waste (sludge) remain inside.

    • The drain field disperses the grey water over a larger area than a cesspool, allowing it to drain through the soil and decontaminate.

How do I keep my septic system healthy?

Keep your system healthy by keeping some specific materials and chemicals out of your septic system, including:

  • Chemotherapy drugs and time-release capsules and pills

  • Anti-bacterial hand washing soap

  • Some toilet bowl cleaners

  • Bath and body oils

  • Some dishwashing detergents

  • Laundry detergents and bleach in areas where separate systems are now allowed

  • Some water softeners

It is important to note that while biological additives are unlikely to be harmful, many chemical additives advertised to help you avoid having to pump your septic tank may cause damage to your septic system.

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