How Much Does Septic Tank Pumping Cost?

Common Range: $315 – $925 / 750-1000 Gallon Tank Pumped

National Average: $480 

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Updated: October 19, 2022, by: Steve Hansen

Average Cost to Pump a Septic Tank

Most homeowners pay around $480 to have a 750-1,000 gallon septic tank cleaned. Septic tank pumping cost comes to about $0.50 to $0.70 per gallon based on the size of the tank. The common range of septic pumping costs is $315 to $925. Costs for tanks of various sizes are listed later on this page of Costimates.

You can expect a septic pumping company near you to come in, first locate and dig up the cover of the septic tank. Once it’s open, they’ll inspect it to see how full it is and what condition the sludge is in. (packed solid, etc). They’ll then run their hoses to the tank and pump it out, possibly scraping the inside walls with a long shovel to assure everything is cleaned properly. Once completed, they’ll put the cover back in place, refill the dirt over the area, clean up and leave. They are not likely to replace grass seed above the lid, so plan to reseed the area.

Average Cost Ranges

Average Do It Yourself cost
Average Contractor Installed Cost
Typical Cost Range
$315 – $925

worker pumping out septic tank in backyard

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Overview of Septic Tank Cleaning

Septic tank cleaning is recommended by the EPA to be done every 2-5 years, depending on the number of people in your home and size of the tank. Some homeowners swear that a healthy tank never needs pumping, and there are many examples to back this up.

However, when a healthy balance in the tank fails and the “good bugs” aren’t doing their job, the tank can fill and cause backups, leaks and drain field (leach field) failure, resulting in the need to replace the tank and leach field. Having the tank cleaned every 3-5 years at minimum is a cheap way to guard against messy failures and costlier solutions. The more people in your household, the more frequent the tank should be emptied.

Common signs the tank needs pumping are slow drains or toilet, pooling water around the tank and bad odors emanating from the toilet or out in the yard around the tank. These are also signs of a septic pump going bad, so it’s important to have that checked as well. Pump replacement cost is much less than the the whole tank. If the vegetation around the tank is especially green and lush, it’s being well fertilized – and that means the tank is leaking because it is full or has cracked.

Septic Tank Pumping Cost Factors

Your sewage tank pumping cost will be shaped by these factors.

  • Tank Size – Sizes for residential properties begin at 500 gallons. The most common sizes are 750 and 1,000 gallons, but larger households might require a 1,250 or 1,500 gallon tank. The size of the home and/or the number of bedrooms are usually used to determine tank size.
  • Number of Chambers – Many tanks have a second chamber. The first tank holds most of the sludge, while the second tank is mainly liquid, called effluent or effluence. Both chambers should be pumped, and they have to be accessed from separate covers, so cost is higher.
  • Locating and Uncovering the Tank Lid – You can save on the cost of septic tank pumping by finding and digging down to uncover the lid. Sometimes the outline of the tank is visible in the yard. The tank lid is on top, obviously, and there is likely one at either end. Some tanks have risers with tops flush to the ground, making the job much easier.
  • Soil Conditions – If the septic service must dig to uncover the lid, the cost is higher to dig through hard, dry clay soil than in softer soils. Working in frozen soil will raise the cost too.
  • Access – When the tank is difficult to get to from the road or driveway, and a hose extension has to be added, cost will be higher.
  • Frequency – While it might not affect the cost for each pump, how frequently you have to pump the tank will affect your total cost over the life of the septic system. Tanks should be pumped more frequently if you have a large household, often entertain guests, have a garbage disposal you use to get rid of food waste or dump a lot of harsh cleaning solutions down the drain (which slow the breakdown of solid waste).
  • Travel Distance – Transportation costs are higher than ever. If you live in a rural area and the service has to travel 15+ miles to reach you, expect a higher estimate.
  • Where you Live – Your location will also affect the price of septic tank pumping. shows, for example, an average cost of $595 in Portland, OR but only $340 in Jacksonville, FL.
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septic tank pumping truck with hoses extended

Process of Septic Cleaning and Pumping Service

In almost all cases, the septic service truck can be parked on the street (preferred) or in your driveway. Only in rare instances will the service need to drive onto your lawn.

Septic tank pumping and cleaning starts with locating the tank lid – there is often one on each end and possibly in the middle too.

  • Lid removal: Once the technician locates a lid, it is dug down to and removed. Again, this is something you might get a discount or price break for doing yourself.
  • Liquid level check: The technician will first check the liquid level in the tank. Low level often means the tank is leaking from the side or bottom.
  • Tank pumping and observation: If the tank liquid level is normal, the tank is thoroughly pumped out. During this step in the process, a check is made for flow of liquid back into the tank from the drainfield side. Backflow is a sign of a drainage problem in the drainfield – clogged or broken piping, for example.
  • Rinse and inspection: The tank is then rinsed or flushed so that it can be better inspected. The technician looks for cracks and other obvious signs of damage.
  • Last steps: If all is well, the lid is returned and covered.

Hauling and disposal fees are included.

Septic Tank Pumping and Cleaning Cost by Size

Here are commons septic tank sizes and service costs. Cost per square foot drops a bit as the size goes up.

  • 500 Gallon Septic Tank: $315 – $415
  • 600 Gallon Septic Tank: $340 – $450
  • 750 Gallon Septic Tank: $395 – $535
  • 1,000 Gallon Septic Tank: $480 – $650
  • 1,250 Gallon Septic Tank: $600 – $765
  • 1,500 Gallon Septic Tank: $650 – $895
  • 2,000 Gallon Septic Tank: $735 – $1,000+
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septic tank installed with lid riser for easy cleaning

Permits, Inspection, and Labor Costs

Permits and Inspection

  • $0 – A permit isn’t required for sewer tank pumping and cleaning. If the tank must be replaced, a permit will be required at a cost of $150 to $300 based on the scope of the project.

Labor Cost

The labor cost for septic cleaning isn’t determined by the hour but by the job. Technicians who are employees earn $20 to $30 per hour. Many services are owner/operator companies. Regardless, the owner has to consider equipment cost and upkeep, transportation costs, various insurances including liability, etc., when determining the prices charged for septic tank pumping.

Time to Clean or Pump a Septic Tank

This job goes quickly. The septic cleaning service will be at your home for approximately 30 minutes to an hour max.

  • Up to 15 minutes | Locate and uncover access lid or lids
  • 10-30 minutes | Pump and clean the tank
  • 5-10 minutes | Rinse and inspect the tank
  • Up to 10 minutes | Replace and cover the lid or lids
  • 5-10 minutes | Replace the dirt above the cover.
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This isn’t on anyone’s list of favorite outdoor projects, but it is a home maintenance task that can prevent a lot of inconvenience and potential cost. So, it’s worth doing now and then as often as a trustworthy septic service suggests.

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DIY or Hire a Pro

While spending money on waste – up to $925 in or estimate or up to $895 according to HomeGuide – seems like a waste of money, your options are limited.

This obviously isn’t a good DIY fit. Most homeowners don’t have the pump – or wouldn’t want to use it for this job if they did. And, of course, strict regulations exist about the disposal of the sludge and wastewater. It can’t be pumped into a local waterway, ditch or field, for example.

Beyond that issue, it makes sense to have a professional inspect your septic system tank and pipes to ensure they are in good condition. In most cases, catching a minor issue early can prevent major headaches and expense later on.

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Common Questions and Answers

How Often do Septic Tanks Need to be Pumped?

You should clean your septic tank at least once every 5 years. More often if you have 3 or more people living in your house.

Can I Clean My Own Septic Tank?

Not likely. Unless you have a septic pumping truck to suck up the sludge from the tank and store it while you transport it to a disposal location.

How Long do Septic Tanks Last?

A properly maintained and regularly cleaned septic tank should last 30 years or more.

Reviewed and Edited by Steve Hansen of Costimates

steve hansen of costimates-sm Steve Hansen is the Lead Editor of Costimates. (Learn more) An avid home improvement professional with more than 35 years experience in both DIY projects and working as a construction foreman in residential new home building, upfits, repairs and remodeling.

"Like most homeowners, I became frustrated with the lack of quality information available on specific home improvement repairs and renovations. In 2015, Costimates was formed to help homeowners learn as much as possible about various projects and their costs so they could make better financial decisions."