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How Much Does a Septic System Cost?

Author: Brian Eckert

Septic System Prices

If you are moving to an area that isn’t connected to municipal sewer systems, then you are going to require a septic system. A good septic system design includes a leach field, exhaust fume pipe, and the tank itself. The leach field is designed to absorb the liquids expunged from the septic tank. The exhaust pipe lets the gases out of the tank that are made from the bacteria (breaking down the enzymes) in the tank. After the natural bacteria breaks down the waste into liquid and undigested solids, the liquid is then transferred to the leach field. Everything else stays in the tank to be pumped out after it is full.

Tanks can be made from steel, plastic composite or concrete and are made in sizes from 500 gallons all the way up to 2500 gallon tanks.

Average Septic Tank Costs

Installing a septic system is a long and costly process. Improper installation can lead to many headaches down the road and also many repair bills, so be sure to use a reputable company that will do it right the first time. Paying a little extra on the front end for a job done right could save you thousands of dollars on the back end.

Digging a site for a septic system, leech field and all plumbing pipes sometimes run well over half of the cost of the total septic system. Expect to pay between $3,000 and $6,000 for this work alone depending on the size of the tank and the distance of the tank and field from the house. Most septic tanks cost between $400 and $2,000 depending on the type of material and the size of the tank. A 500 gallon steel tank will be cheapest, while a 2,500 gallon plastic composite tank will be the most expensive. PVC piping for the leech field and between your house and the septic tank can run as much as $200 depending on the distance of the tank from your house.

Installing the PVC plumbing to the septic tank, leech field, and exhaust pipe can cost as much as $1,000 but typically costs $400 to $600. Other costs might include:

  • Tree and root removal may run over $1,000 if they interfere with the septic system design.
  • Permits may run up to $1,500 depending on how large and how much of an area is disturbed.
  • Resodding the area may cost several hundred dollars after the septic system is installed.

Septic System Repair

If you have a problem with your septic tank or leech field, you may need to have a company come in and dig the whole system up again. Septic issues which indicate repair are material bubbling up from underneath the ground around the tank or leech field. Dead or dying grass around the septic system may indicate an underground leak.

Expect to pay similar costs to the installation of a septic system for repairs, minus the materials cost. Digging up the septic tank to reach a leak may cost $2,000 to $4,000. Some leaks can be repaired; some cannot. A typical leak that can be repaired will cost $100 to $500. Repairs to a leach field – if the absorbency of the field has failed – may cost upwards of $2,000 from start to finish. Your best bet to insure against septic system repairs is to hire a reputable company with a good track record – paying $1,000 or $2,000 more for a good quality septic system installation is a lot better than paying $5,000 a couple years down the road for repairs due to a faulty installation.

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