How Much Does a Septic Tank Installation Cost? (2022)

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

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.

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Holding Tank vs Septic Tank

A holding tank is seen as a temporary solution for holding wastewater, costing $500 to $4,000 compared to $3,100 to $9,600 for septic systems. As the name suggests, a holding tank holds wastewater but doesn’t have a system to filter the waste. Once a holding tank reaches capacity, it must be emptied, with most requiring monthly, if not weekly, pumping.

Holding tanks are a better option for tiny homes, trailers, boats, or RVs, as they are not designed for larger family homes. Unlike a holding tank, a septic tank is a full system that filters wastewater and sends effluent out into the drain field and surrounding soil. A full septic system is more expensive but requires less maintenance and is more permanent than temporary holding tanks.

Type of TankCost (Installed)Holding$500 - $4,000Se

Type of TankCost (Installed)
Holding$500 – $4,000
Septic$3,100 – $9,600

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New Septic System Cost by Type

There are many different types of septic systems, and each has pros, cons, and costs. Costs depend on various things, including the lot size, soil type, house size, and weather conditions. The costs below are based on a 1,000-gallon tank in a three or four-bedroom house and do not include installation.

TypeCost (Materials Only)Gravity$1,500 - $4,000Con

TypeCost (Materials Only)
Gravity$1,500 – $4,000
Conventional$2,000 – $10,000
Anaerobic$2,000 – $5,000
Chamber$3,500 – $10,000
Drip Distribution$4,000 – $10,000
Pressure Distribution$5,000 – $7,000
Recirculating Sand Filter$6,000 – $10,000
Constructed Wetland$6,000 – $10,000
Community$9,200 – $15,700*
Evapotranspiration$10,000 – $15,000
Mound$10,000 – $20,000
Aerobic$10,000 – $20,000

*additional costs per connection.

Gravity Septic System Cost

The average cost for an in-ground gravity system is $1,500 to $4,000. They are very simple in that they use gravity for water flow and filtration. A gravity system does not need a pump. The tank in these types of systems is very important. It should have risers-to-grade to help with maintenance and an effluent filter that filters out larger particles before the water leaves the tank. This system requires at least a gentle slope so that the water flows properly without a pump.

Conventional Septic System Cost

The typical cost for a conventional system is between $2,000 and $10,000. It is typically used at single-family homes or small businesses. It is an older design but one that works well, with a tank and then a trench that acts as a drain field. Typically, in this system, the trench is quite shallow, ranging from 18 to 30 inches, and constructed of gravel or stone. A geofabric is installed on top of the trench to allow water to enter the stone and prevent any sand or dirt from entering the clean soil. One downside to a conventional system is that the gravel and stone trenches take up a lot of space and might not work on a small lot.

Anaerobic Septic System Cost

An underground anaerobic system costs from $2,000 to $5,000. It is a very common option for homeowners. It is a fairly simple system that does not need additional chemicals or power. An anaerobic system uses bacteria that do not require oxygen to live to eat solid waste. The liquid waste is then piped out and distributed under the soil. As the water runs through the soil, the waste is naturally filtered out.

Chamber Septic System Cost

The average cost for an in-ground chamber system ranges from $3,500 to $10,000. A chamber system uses gravelless drain fields. This system has surged in popularity over the past few decades. Some benefits to a gravelless drain field include having a smaller carbon footprint 1, and they are easier to construct and install. They are also beneficial when there is no consistent flow of wastewater, such as for a cabin or seasonal residence.

There are typically multiple chambers across the drain field connected to the tank by pipes. Chamber systems work well in areas with good, natural soil that will easily absorb the effluent.

Drip Distribution Septic System Cost

A typical drip distribution system costs between $4,000 and $10,000 but can be much higher, depending on how advanced the technology is. A drip distribution system is dynamic and does not require a large mound of soil. This system, consisting of drip laterals or long lengths of tubing, is installed between 6 and 12 inches underneath the soil. Using a pump, a large dose tank distributes the water in timed deliveries. This system requires a fairly large area and needs power to operate. For example, if you add an electrical component, it will increase expenses.

Pressure Distribution Septic System

The average cost for an underground pressure distribution system is between $5,000 and $7,000. Pressure distribution systems only need 2 feet of distance between the bottom of the system and the water table level. This is a huge advantage for people who live in areas with high water tables. This system includes a pump chamber that pushes the water out and distributes it evenly across a distribution area. The pump can also push water uphill. As a result, there must be good control over the pump’s on/off action. These systems are slightly more expensive than a gravity system, but they overcome many barriers a gravity system 2 cannot.

Recirculating Sand Filter System Cost

Expect costs for a recirculating sand filter system to range from $6,000 to $10,000. What makes this system unique is the sand filter portion can be installed above or below ground. Liquid waste, also called effluent water, is pumped into the top of the sand filter, which is typically constructed of concrete or PVC. The waste in the water is filtered out through sand and stone layers before entering the ground. This system is ideal for lots with a high water table or areas near surface water, such as a lake or river.

Constructed Wetland Septic System

The average cost for a constructed wetland system is $6,000 to $10,000. This is a unique and interesting in-ground system that resembles a wetland. The effluent goes from the tank into what is called a wetland cell. Wetland cells are typically constructed of a liner, gravel, sand, and wetland plants. The plants must be chosen carefully because they will always be wet. The water flows into the wetland cell, and the plants, sand, and gravel filter out the waste. The water is then distributed into a drain field. This system can use gravity or a pump.

Community Septic System Cost

An average cost for a conventional in-ground system for a community is between $9,200 and $15,700. Then, there is an additional cost per home or connection added to the system, which typically ranges from $3,400 to $5,100 per added connection. Sometimes called a cluster system, a community system is decentralized, meaning it does not just serve one household. Typically, a community system serves at least two buildings. These are fairly common in rural subdivisions where there is a lot of space. These systems can be cost-effective and very efficient. The cost of a community system varies significantly because it depends on the type of system installed and the number of buildings or homes included in the system.

Evapotranspiration Septic System

The cost of an underground evapotranspiration system is usually $10,000 to $15,000. This unique system has an interesting design, where water is put into an open-air tank, and the water evaporates. The tank is lined with a durable water-tight material so that no water leaks into the soil. With this system, the water does not enter the soil at all. Evapotranspiration systems need to be installed in the right climate. It must be hot, have a lot of sun, and be in an arid climate. If there is too much rain or snow, the system can fail.

Mound Septic System Cost

An above-ground septic system ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. They are a unique design intended when the depth of the soil or bedrock is shallow, or the groundwater is high. They have a sand mound constructed in the area of the septic system. A pump pushes wastewater from the tank into the mound in doses. Then, the sand filters out the water before it enters the soil and groundwater. This design needs a lot of space to build. For a standard three-bedroom home, the mound will likely be 200 feet long. For larger homes, an additional 30 feet of length is added per bedroom. It takes up a lot of space, but it is beneficial if you have shallow bedrock or high groundwater.

Aerobic Septic System Cost

The average cost for an underground aerobic system is between $10,000 and $20,000. This is also a popular system among homeowners. It utilizes bacteria that need oxygen to survive to eat solid waste. Due to this, the system pumps oxygen into the tank to activate the bacteria. These systems are more expensive to install and maintain but work well where other systems might struggle. These systems work on small lots in areas where the soil conditions are not conducive to other systems and where the groundwater table is too high to utilize other systems. It is also a good option if your home is located near a body of water.

How much does it cost to repair a septic tank?

If your tank isn’t working properly, repairs can run you anywhere up to $1,500. However, your issue might not be with the tank itself but some other part of the septic system.

It really all comes down to which part is broken:

  • Pump repairs can cost $250 to $400.
  • Filter replacement will run you somewhere in the $200 to $300 range.
  • Baffles cost anywhere from $100 to $900 to fix.
  • Septic lines average around $1,500 to repair, but it’s not unheard of for them to run up to $4,000.

If you can have your septic tank or system repaired and still get many years out of it, then that’s generally the favorable option. However, not all problems are fixable.

A septic tank professional should consider the following as they help you determine whether repair or replacement is right for your home:

  • Are puddles forming quickly? Generally speaking, puddles in the yard aren’t too problematic. Puddles in the yard that quickly form overnight are a whole different matter, though. When puddles form slowly, it typically indicates a full septic tank, but it could also mean there’s a problem with the pipes or the leach field. If the puddles are springing up quickly, it points to a more serious problem, such as a cracked tank that you’ll need to replace.
  • What’s your household size? Larger households need larger septic tanks. If your household has grown over the years but your tank has not, it may be a good idea to replace it with a larger tank that can keep up.
  • How often are you needing repairs? An occasional repair isn’t a big deal, but when repairs start becoming a common occurrence, it’s time to reevaluate. A problematic septic system is likely on its way out, meaning you’ll need to pay to replace it.

Whether you’re repairing or replacing your unit, it’s worth noting that you can dramatically reduce your out-of-pocket expenses if your septic tank is under warranty. While some new septic tanks come with warranties from the manufacturer, a home warranty can cover older units as well. You’ll pay for the coverage, but should something happen with your septic tank, you may only have to pay a relatively small service fee before your warranty company covers the rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Years Does A Septic System Last?

A newly bought and installed septic system should last for about 40 years if the tank quality and installation process are good and the system is maintained regularly.

How Often Does A Septic Tank Need To Be Pumped?

While septic tank systems vary in capacity to suit the wastewater output from your home, they are designed to be big enough to store roughly three years’ worth of sludge before needing to be emptied.

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Building a Drain Field

The drain field is an integral part of the septic system. Also referred to as leach fields or leach drains, a drain field is a network of pipework where the separated waste is passed. The effluent trickles out of the pipes, through aggregate that is used to prevent flooding, and into the soil below. Here, the soil disposes of bacteria before the cleaned water is passed back into the water table. Expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 and $8,000 to have an effective drain field built as part of your system.

Image Credit: Slave SPB, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Slave SPB, Shutterstock

Types of septic tank replacements

Hamik/Shutterstock Hamik/Shutterstock

Many different types of septic tanks can be installed on your property. The construction and system functionality can vary widely, and it’s a good idea to brush up on the available options in order to make the right selection for your home and specific needs.

Concrete, fiberglass, and plastic tanks are standard options that fit most homeowners’ usage needs

Concrete is a standard material used in septic tanks. This type of tank is the longest-lasting and responds well to any kind of environment. Concrete can crack over the course of many years, though. Installing a concrete septic tank requires specialized construction and lifting equipment because of the sheer weight of the unit.

An alternative to concrete that many people make use of is fiberglass. Fiberglass septic tanks are durable as well, and they aren’t porous, so algae growth isn’t an issue in these systems (via HomeServe). Bob Vila notes that fiberglass tanks resist corrosion and rust as well but are prone to breakage in areas that see shifting water tables or underlying soil movement.

Plastic tanks are among the cheapest options available to homeowners, but they are equally susceptible to breakage in areas that experience soil shifts. Plastic tanks also resist rust and cracking like fiberglass tanks.

Gravity tanks versus alternative methods of wastewater breakdown

As well as the construction material used to create your septic tank, you will need to compare wastewater treatment methods. The conventional septic tank is cheaper than other options and is built with a simple design in mind. These tanks fill up over time, allowing gravity to separate out heavier solid waste from the liquid wastewater (as well as oils that float on top of the solution).

Aerobic septic systems bring oxygen into the mix, providing a richer environment that introduces bacteria into the equation to help speed up the breakdown of wastewater and the contaminants that exist within it. Bob Vila notes that these septic systems produce a cleaner finished product that requires a much smaller drain field at the outward end of the system. But they can cost far more, averaging between $6,000 and $15,000 as opposed to the typical price tag of $3,500 to $10,000 for a traditional installation.

Get Professional Estimates for Your Septic Tank Cost Near You 

Since it’s so important to have a professional come in and design and install your septic system, you want to get a few estimates around your local area. You can start your search with the following links to help control your septic tank costs. 

Types of Septic Tanks

You can choose from several types of tanks. However, concrete is the best since it lasts for decades if properly cared for and doesn’t have some of the problems that plastic and poly tanks or fiberglass tanks have. Because plastic and fiberglass tanks are so light, they can easily suffer damage during installation and can also move once they are installed.

The fourth type is stainless steel, though those tanks are no longer permitted in many locations because they eventually rust. Older homes might have stainless steel tanks. If so, it is recommended that you replace the tank, or if you are buying a home, have the seller replace the tank or negotiate the replacement cost off the price of the house.

Final Thoughts on How Much a Septic Tank Costs:

If you’re wondering how much a septic tank costs the best way to find out is to call three local companies, have them come out to provide you with a quote and a written explanation of the services they intend to provide step by step. This takes the guesswork out of the cost of installing a new septic system. The cost is an expensive one, though it’s a necessary one.

Permits and Red Tape

Various tests will need to be undertaken before you can even consider having a septic tank installed. A deep hole percolation test, costing $1,500, determines the type of soil you have. A positive test means that you can have a standard leach field. A negative test means that you will have to have an above-ground or mound septic system, which will cost two or three times as much as a normal septic system.

Once the tank and system are fully installed, you will have to have them inspected. Permits cost approximately $300, with costs being determined by the area you live.

It’s also worth taking into account additional costs that might be incurred once the job is done. Expect to budget between $50 and $200 a year for maintenance, with pumping required every three to five years.

Finally, you may have to pay for landscaping and other work to make the area look good once the tank is installed and operational.

Image Credit: AuntSpray, Shutterstock
Image Credit: AuntSpray, Shutterstock

Questions to Ask About Septic Tank Cost

A septic tank might not be a product that is familiar to a homeowner. Having a basic understanding of what owning a septic tank will entail is an important step to successful home maintenance. Whether you’re buying a home with an existing septic tank, or you’re building a home that will need a septic tank system, here are some helpful questions to ask.

  • What is the difference between a septic tank and a sewage system?
  • Will I smell raw sewage all the time if I install a septic tank in my backyard?
  • Why do I need to get a percolation test?
  • How much space do I need to reserve for a septic tank?
  • What’s the best size septic tank for my house?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Can I install one on my own?
  • Do I have to maintain it myself?
  • Can it be repaired?
  • How often do septic tanks need to be replaced?
  • Are there any best practices I should implement with my water usage in my home to prevent problems with my septic tank?
  • How often do I need to have my septic tank pumped?
  • What is the septic tank pumping cost near me?
  • Why does my septic tank seem to have problems when it rains?
  • Can septic tanks freeze?
  • Can I plant trees near my septic tank?
  • If I lose power, will my septic tank still work properly?

Conclusion

A new septic tank or septic system, either for new construction or an existing property, will always cost at least a few thousand dollars. The national average cost of professional installation is about $5,828, with a typical range of $3,138 to $8,518

The overall cost of the project depends on the type of septic system you use, the size of your home, and any additional services you may need to complete the installation. Though the typical price range is a good set of guidelines, keep in mind that you could end up paying as little as $1,013 or as much as $18,163

Most importantly: DON’T attempt to install your own septic tank unless you’re a professional plumber or other specialist experienced with septic systems. No matter how handy you are, no matter how much money you think you’ll save, the risk of DIY in this case isn’t worth it. 

Main Photo Credit: Andy Rogers / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Jordan Ardoin is a writer and indoor plant enthusiast hailing from Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing her two cats around the house and trying to keep her houseplants alive.

Septic Tank Cost Estimator By Type

The cost of your septic tank will depend on the material it consists of—concrete, stainless steel, fiberglass, or plastic. The average price of a concrete septic tank is between $720 and $2,050, a fiberglass tank ranges from $1,600 to $2,000, and a plastic tank costs $830 to $1,900.

Septic Tank Cost Estimator
Tank Material Average Cost
Concrete $720 – $2,050
Fiberglass $1,600 – $2,000
Plastic $830 – $1,900

Depending on the construction methods, materials used, and the soil conditions where the tank is placed, a septic tank can last as long as 40 years, and beyond. Given that the average person will move 11.4 times in his or her lifetime, a septic tank installation will probably outlast the average homeowner’s stay.

Concrete Septic Tank Cost

Concrete tanks are the most common type used in the US because of their durability and cost from $720 to $2,050. If they are made well with quality materials and maintained properly, they can last 20 or 30 years or more. Prices for precast concrete septic tanks with inlet and outlet connectors cost: [1]

Concrete Septic Tank Cost
Tank Size Average Cost
1,000 Gallon $815 – $1,250
1,250 Gallon $945 – $1,235
1,500 Gallon $1,100 – $1,520

Because of the nature of concrete, they are prone

Because of the nature of concrete, they are prone to cracking over time if they are not well made or properly looked after, but you can also get one reinforced with rebar to increase its strength under pressure. Larger equipment is required to install these because of their weight.

Stainless Steel Septic Tank

Despite the strength and durability associated with steel, metal septic tanks will eventually rust and collapse and will likely be outlasted by a neighbor’s concrete tank. Because of this, and increased regulations by local authorities, they are used less and less, and in many regions are likely only to be found in existing systems already installed.

Fiberglass Septic Tank Prices

As with plastic septic tanks, fiberglass tanks are lighter and therefore easier to install. They cost an average of $1,600 to $2,000 for an average 3–4 bed US home. Fiberglass also won’t deteriorate while underground, nor will it attract the growth of as many algae because of its nonporous qualities. It won’t expand and contract either in the way concrete does so that it won’t develop cracks. [2]

Fiberglass Septic Tank Prices
Tank Size Average Cost
1,000 Gallon $1,600
1,250 Gallon $1,810
1,500 Gallon $1,975

Fiberglass Septic Tank vs. Concrete

While possibly longer lasting, fiberglass tanks can cost twice as much as concrete tanks, but fiberglass tanks are approx. 30% lighter than concrete tanks and cheaper to install. Fiberglass also won’t deteriorate or develop cracks like concrete is prone to do.

Plastic Septic Tank Prices

Polyethylene or plastic septic tanks are cheaper to buy and install because they are lighter, costing an average of $800 to $2,000. They aren’t prone to cracking, but they can sometimes break under pressure or in changing soil conditions. In some states, they aren’t approved for use. [3]

Plastic Septic Tank Prices
Tank Size Average Cost
1,000 Gallon $830 – $1,420
1,250 Gallon $1,150 – $1,690
1,500 Gallon $1,270 – $1,900

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Bottom Line

The costs to install and replace your septic system will vary depending on a range of factors. We’ve outlined the biggest ones, and you can take a look and see which ones will apply to your situation. When you settle on a material, size, and type, you’ll have a rough estimate you can take to local companies and see which ones offer you the best deals to ensure you get a high-quality system without breaking the bank. 

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