Septic tanks and septic systems are essential for the proper removal of waste from your home’s bathroom, kitchen, and shower. Although many existing homes are connected to municipal sewer lines, new homes will need to have a new system installed. Some homeowners may need to update their septic system after experiencing septic issues. Unfortunately, these projects—both the replacement and installation of septic systems—can be costly and overwhelming for homeowners.
In this article, you’ll learn about the types of septic systems available to homeowners, installation costs, and the best ways to prepare for your installation.
Septic Tank Installation Cost
Several factors will affect the total cost of your septic tank installation. More complicated systems will cost more money than simple options. Some types of septic systems require a large amount of space to operate. Therefore, your installation costs will increase. If you install a new septic tank system, you must include the additional costs for preparation, permitting, and perc testing. In addition, labor costs and home size must be considered when planning a septic tank installation.
We will break down the estimated costs of the different septic system installations to help you estimate the total cost for your project.
Conventional Septic System
These systems require a large amount of space to work properly and work best for single-family homes. If you have adequate space for one of these systems, your project costs will fall between $2,000 and $7,000.
Anaerobic Septic System
If you have the space to accommodate a large drain field, then an anaerobic system could be a viable option for your property. These systems will cost, on average, $3,000 to $8,000. Additional costs for the installation or a drain field will also add to the final price of this installation.
Alternative Septic Systems
Homeowners with limited yard space or looking for more compact options should consider alternative septic systems. These systems are also used with a high water table, poor soil, or high bedrock.
The gravelless chamber septic system typically costs around $4,000 to $10,000. If you want the eco-friendly constructed wetland septic system, you should plan your project budget between $7,500 and $15,000. For homeowners in particularly hot climates, an evapotranspiration septic system is a great option for you. This system averages $10,000 to $15,000. The pressurized septic system, which works well with a high water table, costs about $6,500 to $9,000.
Engineered Septic Systems
These systems have the highest price tags because they require more moving parts, specialty equipment, and installations. Mound systems require the additional installation of sand and a pump tank. These additional factors increase the installation costs to $10,000 to $20,000.
Homeowners looking to install a recirculating sand filter system should budget $7,000 to $20,000 for their project. If you prefer an aerobic septic system, you can expect to pay around $11,000 to $19,000.
Additional Costs to Consider
Depending on the size of the land and soil conditions, a percolation test can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000. This soil testing is required, and you must plan for these costs. Typically, professionals only dig a few holes in the proposed leach field area, but your test’s cost can increase if a land survey is needed to determine where to excavate.
To build a septic tank on your land, you’ll need to obtain a permit. Permit pricing varies from state to state, but they usually cost $200 to $2,000 and are typically renewed every few years.
Labor costs must also be factored into your project. Typically, you would hire a plumber or other specialist to complete a septic tank replacement or installation. Depending on the project’s complexity, labor costs could fall between $1,500 and $4,000.
Septic Tank Size
Your septic tank size ties directly to the number of bedrooms in your home. The more bedrooms your home has, the larger your septic tank must be to accommodate the household. For example, a 1,000-gallon tank would cover a three-bedroom home and cost about $1,500 on average. However, a one-bedroom home could use only a 500-gallon tank, reducing the tank cost to around $800.
Septic Tank Repair Cost
Although the average lifespan of a septic tank is about 20 to 30 years, your system will have normal wear and tear of its components over time. Most septic tank systems have parts that are independent of each other, making replacements a simple process.
Below are some common septic tank components that may need to be replaced or repaired over time:
- Tank pump: Not all systems will require a tank pump. However, if you do need a replacement, you can expect to pay $600 to $1,500.
- Tank lid: Lids may naturally crack over time with continued use of the tank itself. Although the replacement part cost falls between $50 and $120, using a professional for the installation will increase the total to $100 to $300.
- Tank risers: These components help the lid rise to the surface on septic tanks that are buried further into the ground. For these replacements, expect to pay about $350 to $800.
- Tank baffle: The baffle, essential in directing the wastewater through the septic tank for proper removal, can be replaced for $25 to $400.
- Tank filter: This component, which helps prevent solids from flowing into the leach field, will cost around $250 to $300.
- Leach field: As one of the most expensive replacements in a septic tank system, homeowners can expect to pay $4,000 to $15,000.
Homeowners should also consider a septic tank warranty to cover their system when it’s time for repairs. Replacement costs for individual components will cost much less than replacing your entire system.
Septic Tank Systems and Materials
The price of your new septic system is based on the size of your home, including the number of bedrooms, the type of system selected, and your septic tank’s material. Below is a list of various treatment systems and tanks available and the standard prices.
Conventional Septic System
A conventional septic system uses gravity to move household sewage into the septic tank. Sewage is separated into layers, with solid waste settling at the bottom and liquid sewage rising to the top.
When liquid sewage rises to the level of the outflow pipe, the liquid waste flows into the drain field, where it decomposes further. These conventional septic systems are usually the most affordable, with an average cost around $2,000 to $7,000.
Anaerobic Septic System
The anaerobic septic system uses anaerobic bacteria to break down waste in the septic tank. These systems don’t require additional chemicals or power. They serve as an affordable option for homeowners.
However, anaerobic systems are not effective at cleaning the tank and require a larger drain field to work correctly. The added size increases the average cost to $3,000 to $8,000.
Alternative Septic System
An alternative septic system collects sewage in the same way as a conventional system, but it breaks down the sewage in the tank using oxygen instead of naturally occurring bacteria. Drain fields for alternative systems generally need less land and release cleaner wastewater. However, this benefit comes at an increase in cost, with systems usually priced around $4,000 to $15,000.
The following types of alternative septic systems are available for homeowners:
- Chambered septic system: Replacing the need for a gravel/stone system, chambered systems use gravelless drain fields with leaching chambers for the filtration. They are ideal in areas with high groundwater tables or limited gravel.
- Constructed wetland septic system: Similar to the natural process that occurs in real wetlands, this system cleanses wastewater using bacteria, microbes, and plants. The waste then helps those plants to thrive. This design is the most eco-friendly septic system available.
- Drip septic system: Drip systems are made to “irrigate” septic water over a larger area using long tubing throughout the leach field.
- Evapotranspiration septic system: These systems use a large open-air tank to allow the effluent to evaporate naturally. This type of system works best in climates that receive abundant sunlight and heat.
- Pressurized septic system: This system focuses on using pressure to distribute effluent evenly. It can be paired with other septic systems that focus on water treatment.
Engineered Septic System
Engineered septic systems are the most complex and are generally needed due to poor soil or the home being situated on an uphill slope. Just like alternative and conventional septic systems, engineered systems collect and separate waste in a tank. Instead of relying on gravity to drain, the liquid waste needs to be pumped into the leach field to distribute throughout the land evenly. These systems generally cost $7,000 to $20,000.
Below are some examples of engineered septic systems:
- Mound septic system: Mound systems employ mounds of sand to clean the wastewater instead of a typical leaching field.
- Aerobic system: By pumping oxygen into the treatment tank, these systems generate naturally occurring bacteria to process the waste.
- Recirculating sand filter system: This septic system uses sand to filter effluent out after leaving the pump tank. The treated water then flows to the drain field. This sand filter septic system works best in areas near bodies of water or with a high water table.
Septic Tank Materials
Several different materials can be used for your septic tank.
Here are the most common types available for your home:
- Concrete: Concrete tanks are durable and rust-proof but are hard to repair if damaged. Depending on the size, concrete tanks can cost up to $2,000.
- Plastic: Plastic septic tanks are cost-effective but prone to damage. They cost around $1,200.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass tanks are stronger than their plastic counterparts but can be shifted or displaced if the water table rises too high. These tanks can cost up to $2,000.
- Steel: Although steel is considered a durable material, steel tanks are not used in newer installations since they are prone to rust over time. These tanks are usually found in older installations and should be replaced with a newer option when they begin to deteriorate.
How to Prepare for Your Septic Tank Installation
To ensure septic tank installation goes smoothly, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Receive Multiple Estimates
Before any excavation or signed paperwork, receive estimates from licensed septic tank installers and read reviews about each company using trusted, third-party consumer reviews. Ensure the contractor you select holds the proper insurance and licensing and includes necessary preparations like excavation and drain field testing in their estimate.
Test the Soil and Obtain a Permit
Septic systems rely on permeable soil surrounding the tank to absorb and naturally treat liquid residue so that it doesn’t contaminate runoff water or leak into the water table. This area is known as the drain or leach field.
Before installing a septic tank, you’re legally obligated to obtain a percolation or “perc” test. This test confirms the soil meets requirements set by the city and local health department. Usually, the soil is required to have adequate amounts of permeable contents like sand or gravel. Once the land passes the percolation test, you’ll be able to obtain a permit and start the installation process.
Note: If you want to put a septic tank on a piece of land, it must pass the percolation test. We recommend ordering a test before purchasing the land you want to use for residential purposes.
Plan for Excavation
Heavy equipment is needed to excavate the large amount of land necessary for a septic tank. If you currently reside on the land, make sure to budget landscaping costs to fix any damage incurred during excavation.
If you’re building a new home, schedule the excavation at a time when it’ll have minimal impact on the construction process. Typically, this is before paving the driveways and sidewalks, but after the main frame of the home is built.
Whether planning a new installation or replacing your current tank, it’s crucial to select a system that will work with your household size, climate, and local environment. Although DIY septic tank installations are possible, we do not recommend them unless you have professional experience. Instead, you should consult a professional installer to complete your job. Research at least three installers in your area and compare the quotes, available equipment, labor costs, and warranty options.
Use the tool below to find local plumbers in your area to help with your septic tank installation.
Septic Tank Installation Cost FAQs
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