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Septic Tank Cost by Material

There are several different materials for septic tanks. Each material has benefits. Some are more appropriate for different soil types, climates, or uses. They all do the same job, but there is a cost difference among them. The costs below are for a 1,000-gallon tank, which typically serves a standard three-bedroom home.

MaterialCosts (Materials Only)Concrete$800 - $1,25

MaterialCosts (Materials Only)
Concrete$800 – $1,250
Plastic$830 – $1,400
Fiberglass$1,600 – $2,000

Concrete Septic Tank Cost

The average cost for a 1,000-gallon concrete tank is $800 to $1,250. Concrete tanks are very popular and the most common material used for tanks. They are durable and have a long life when made of high-quality materials and are constructed well. A good concrete tank can have a life of over 20 years. A concrete tank is very heavy, so big equipment is needed for installation. Other price factors impact the cost, depending on if it is precast or reinforced with rebar.

Plastic Septic Tank Cost

The typical cost of a plastic tank is between $830 and $1,400. Plastic tanks are more durable than you might think. They do not typically crack, but they can break if soil conditions change or shift. Plastic tanks are much lighter than their concrete counterparts and are typically less expensive to install. While the cost of the tank is similar, the installation costs vary greatly between a plastic tank and other heavier materials.

Fiberglass Septic Tank Cost

The typical cost for a 1,000-gallon fiberglass tank is $1,600 to $2,000. Fiberglass has many unique benefits. It is not a porous material, so there is very little chance algae will grow on the tank. It also is very sturdy and does not deteriorate underground. Like plastic tanks, fiberglass tanks are lighter than concrete or steel, so they are cheaper to install. There is also no chance of fiberglass cracking, which could happen to concrete.

How to Save Money on Septic Tank Cost

There are a few ways that can help save money on septic tank costs. Some of these can be achieved by DIY-ing some of the easier preinstallation tasks. Here are a few ideas to get started.

  • Ask about current or upcoming discounts or promotions.
  • Request a quote from at least two companies, if possible.
  • Ask about all-in-one installation costs, and compare them to expected costs in the event you complete some tasks on your own.
  • Consider preparing the land before installation begins.
  • Consider purchasing and placing the gravel that’s used beneath the tank and drain field yourself.
  • Request soil tests and permits yourself. However, be aware that some companies will only accept permits they obtained.

What Should You Look For In a Septic Tank Installer?

Above all else, you should always choose an experienced professional to install your septic system. A local contractor may offer to do the work for less money, but you want an expert installation to avoid property damage, sewage backups, and other costly problems down the road.

Some plumbers exclusively work based on an hourly rate, but a professional with experience installing septic tanks should be able to estimate the total installation time and cost of the materials.

We recommend choosing a plumber who provides a flat rate, as this will give you a total price up front and help avoid overspending on a slow installation.

Lastly, we strongly recommend choosing a plumber who offers a satisfaction guarantee or a warranty on the installation. Installing a septic tank is a complicated process, and an expert who promises you’ll be pleased with their work is more likely to do things correctly and safely.

What If I Need to Replace My Septic System?

How much does a septic tank system cost to replace? Your septic system replacement cost depends on the status of your current septic system. If things need to be removed to put in the new system, there can be additional costs with that.

Be sure to ask your plumber about the costs of replacing your septic tank and system compared to the costs of the repairs that need to be done. It might wind up being cheaper to put in a new septic tank system in the long run instead of just repairing pieces one or two things at a time.

Depending on the type of septic tank you choose, it can affect your septic tank system cost. If you’re looking into a septic tank replacement instead of a brand new system, now is the time to change the type of septic tank you have if you need to.

If you’re replacing your septic system due to unexpected damage, your homeowner’s insurance may cover part of your costs. Being able to show regular maintenance on your septic system is an important part of having a claim like this paid.

Septic System Accessory Costs

There are a few additional pieces of your septic system that may need replacement or repair over time. At The Original Plumber, we can help Atlanta area homeowners determine if they need to have their entire system repaired or replaced, or if just a few parts need some assistance. These include:

Septic Tank Baffles

A septic tank baffle protects your inlet or outlet pipes from scum buildup. A baffle costs around $200-$600 on average to replace.

Tank Covers

Your tank cover is made from concrete. These can get damaged with time, especially in the event of inclement weather. These are only a few hundred dollars to replace.

Concrete Distribution Boxes

The distribution box is also known as a D-box. These are made from concrete and are smaller tanks that help move the flow of liquid. These bring the liquids from your septic system out into your drain field. These can cost, on average, anywhere from $500-$1,500.

Septic System Pumps

We may find that you need your pump replaced in order to get your septic system working again. These typically need to be replaced every decade or so. They can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on your tank.

How does a septic tank system work?

Generally speaking, septic tanks function by separating floatable matter (like oil) and solids from your home’s wastewater before sending the remaining treated water out into either the soil, sand, organic matter, wetlands or other media. However, the specifics of how a given type of system works will differ.

In a conventional septic system, the grey water and blackwater from your home flow into the tank. Over time, the solids sink to the bottom of the tank, and fats, oils and grease float to the surface as scum. The scum and sludge are separated from the wastewater, and the treated water is sent to the drainfield for further filtration.

The drainfield removes harmful coliform bacteria and viruses as the wastewater gets sent through a filtration process involving sand, soil or other means. The wastewater is then continuously filtered as it passes through the earth before entering the water table.

Ground Preparation

While the drain field can be expensive, it is an important part of the system. Another important element is ground preparation. You will need to clear the land, dig up the earth, and move or remove it. This costs an average of about $1,000 for a standard property and an average septic system.

Septic System Cost by Size

The septic tank size you need varies significantly, depending on the home or building size you are servicing and the amount of waste produced. The most common way to break down the tank volume needed is by the number of bedrooms in the home. Historically, this is a good indication of the tank size needed.

Number of BedroomsCost (Installed)2 Bedrooms$1,500

Number of BedroomsCost (Installed)
2 Bedrooms$1,500 – $3,000
3 Bedrooms$3,000 – $7,000
4 Bedrooms$7,000 – $12,000
5 Bedrooms$12,000 – $20,000

Cost of Septic System for 2-Bedroom House

A septic system for a two-bedroom house requires a minimum of a 750-gallon tank. Its cost typically ranges between $1,500 and $3,000. However, it is important to check local regulations because many municipalities require a minimum of a 1,000-gallon tank for a residential system.

Cost of Septic System for a 3-Bedroom House

The average cost of installing a 1,000-gallon septic tank is $3,000 to $7,000. The minimum size of the tank recommended for a three-bedroom house is a 1,000-gallon tank. Additionally, many local or state governments require a minimum of a 1,000-gallon tank. A 1,000-gallon tank typically handles 360 gallons of water per day. If you want to calculate your water usage, estimate your water flow, and multiply it by 1.5.

Cost of Septic System for a 4-Bedroom House

Typically, 1,200-gallon tanks cost between $7,000 and $12,000. A four-bedroom house needs a slightly larger tank. A 1,250-gallon tank is the minimum tank volume for a home of this size. This tank handles about 480 to 600 gallons per day of effluent. The cost varies significantly, depending on the tank material. Use the calculation above to estimate the water volume leaving your house.

5-Bedroom Septic System Cost

Most homeowners pay $12,000 to $20,000 to install a five-bedroom house system. A tank up to 1,500 gallons should suffice, which comfortably handles anywhere from 600 to 900 gallons of water a day. Like the systems for a house with three or four bedrooms, a five-bedroom system cost varies by tank material and design.

Talk to local pros to get quotes for your septic tank installation

What are the maintenance costs that add up for the septic system cost?

The septic system cost when you replace it is costly, but you can prevent future issues and catch problems early on with regular maintenance.

One of the biggest maintenance tasks related to septic systems is pumping. Over time, sediment and other materials build up in the bottom of your system. This material, called sludge, can’t travel through the pipes and created a thick coat in your tank. The more sludge in your tank, the less wastewater it can hold and the sludge will eventually block the pipes. By pumping your septic tank frequently, you can remove this sludge and keep everything moving. 

Septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years. This costs about $400 on average. Pumping large tanks can cost $1,000 or more. If you have a small septic tank or a large family (that requires more wastewater) then you will likely need to pump your septic tank more frequently.  

Along with pumping every five years, you should schedule an inspection every one to three years. The inspector will check the sludge levels and check for issues with the system to see if repairs are needed.  

Before you balk at the cost of having a septic tank pumped, think about what could happen if you don’t maintain it. Not only will it cost thousands of dollars to replace it, but you could end up with sewage in undesirable places. You could experience backups in your toilets and sinks or have to contend with foul odors around your home and yard. 

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Bottom line

There’s a lot to think about when dealing with septic tank issues. Getting professional advice is important, but it helps to know what to expect so you can make educated decisions.

Whether you’re budgeting for a new tank or trying to keep your system running, it’s a good idea to shop around, read reviews and get multiple quotes to learn about your options.

If you’re just planning ahead or worried about septic tank costs down the line, consider a home warranty to help offset the costs. Read up on what they cover and whether they’re worth the money to learn more.

Cost to Install A Septic System for an RV

If you’re building a more permanent septic system for your RV, then prices are the same as installing one for a house at $3,300 and $5,000. An RV these days is generally understood to be a mobile vehicle. The septic system in an RV consists of a black water or wastewater tank, the contents of which are dumped into a sewer connection or dump station. It will need to be flushed, cleaned, and sanitized regularly to stay in good working order.

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What Size Septic Tank Do I Need?

To determine what septic tank size you’ll need, start with the size of your house.  The larger the house, the larger the septic tank you’ll need.

Counting the number of bedrooms in your house is the easiest way to compare sizes. Here are some basic guidelines to help you decide on the right size septic systems for your home or business:

  • 1 bedroom: 500-gallon tank
  • 2 bedrooms: 750-gallon tank
  • 3 bedrooms: 1,000-gallon tank
  • 4 bedrooms: 1,250-gallon tank
  • 5 – 6 bedrooms: 1,500-gallon tank

The average house has a 750 – 1,250 gallon septic tank. Larger septic tanks cost most but the size of the septic tank depends on it being able to safely handle the amount of solid waste expected to be produced. If you have a septic tank that is too small for your property, then you may need to have your septic tank pumped more frequently to prevent sewage backups. Picking the right size is critical in avoiding overwhelming your system.

Cost of Septic Tank Installation by Location

Conditions in your specific area such as terrain, climate, and soil type will determine the type of septic system you should use and therefore will affect the overall cost of the project. Consult a local pro to determine the best type of septic system for your area and the average cost. 

Labor costs vary by location, too. A homeowner in a metropolitan area will likely pay much more for a new septic system than one in a rural area. We’ve estimated the national average cost of labor, but the price you actually pay could be significantly lower or higher. Get at least three estimates from local pros for your septic tank project — or any home improvement project — to give you a good idea of labor costs in your area. 

Options to Repair a Failed Septic System

The cost to repair a septic system depends on if you choose a full system replacement or conversion from an anaerobic to an aerobic system with an Aero-Stream® product.

What Are the Different Kinds of Septic Systems?

There are many different types of septic systems, each with a different way of treating and disposing of waste. We’ll discuss the styles below and offer some insight into how they function differently.

Traditional Septic System

A conventional septic system – also called an anaerobic septic system – is the one we’ve chosen to describe above, as they are the most common throughout the United States. In this type of system, the waste from your home travels through the main waste line and into the septic tank. A pump is used to move the liquid waste from the middle of the tank to the distribution box.

The distribution box evenly distributes waste to t

The distribution box evenly distributes waste to the branches of your drain field. The drainpipes leach cleaned water into the soil, where treatment continues by bacteria in the ground.

Chamber Septic System

A chamber system works very similarly to a traditional septic system, but the pipes that distribute cleaned water to the soil are significantly broader and act as treatment chambers rather than just as a method of dispersal.

Like a conventional system, wastewater enters your septic tank via the waste line and is treated by the bacteria within the container. Liquid waste is pumped to the distribution box, which then distributes waste to large chambers under the ground. These chambers are often made of wider plastic piping and generally don’t use gravel or crushed rock to accept water.

Chamber systems provide greater flow of treated sewage and offer a better solution for waste management in homes that don’t have continuous waste production, such as in summer homes or short-term rental properties.

Drip Distribution System

A drip distribution system ditches the larger dispersal pipes and instead relies on significantly smaller piping that is buried just a foot or so under the earth’s surface. Installation of the leach field for this system is much cheaper than other styles because it requires far less excavation.

However, a drip system requires a more complex distribution box that can disperse waste effectively and adequately to each of the different drip tubes. This box requires more excavation and planning, as well as an electrical connection to run the sophisticated pump.

Aerobic Septic System

An aerobic septic system differs from others, not in the dispersion method but in how the sewage is treated. An air pump forces oxygen into the tank, making the bacteria more active and effective at thoroughly treating the sewage before it’s disposed of into the soil.

These systems are ideal for homes located near public water sources or high water table where contamination is a major concern.

Mound System

A mound septic system disperses waste over a large mound of underground gravel and sand. The drain field for these systems can be significantly smaller and set at shallower depths than those in a conventional system, so they’re ideal for properties with shallow bedrock or high groundwater. The sewage is primarily treated by bacteria residing in the sand beneath the drain field.

Recirculating Sand Filter System

In a recirculating sand filter septic system, effluent from your septic tank is pumped into a separate treatment chamber filled with sand and additional bacteria. The second tank acts as a second round of filtration and treatment before the waste is moved to the drain field. This type of system is ideal for properties near high groundwater or public sources of water where contamination is a severe issue.

Evapotranspiration System

An evapotranspiration septic system lacks a drain field and never distributes effluent into the soil. Instead, it includes an open-air tank after your septic tank, where the effluent evaporates into the air. These systems are ideal in areas where ground contamination is a significant concern, but they’re only suitable in dry climates where evaporation can occur readily.

Wetland System

A relatively uncommon type of septic system, a wetland setup uses a man-made wetland to treat sewage naturally using plants and bacteria that use the chemicals found in wastewater.

The wetland is constructed over an underground tank situated beyond your standard septic tank. Treated waste is eventually pumped into the soil via a leach field, where additional treatment occurs.

Average Septic Tank Installation Costs

A traditional septic tank for a 3-bedroom house will cost around $3,900 to install on average. For conventional systems, prices start around $5,000 in the Midwest, whereas in coastal areas, one could cost $10,000 or more. For an engineered system, the costs will average around $15,000 for installation.

 Septic System Installation Cost   Septic System T

Septic System Installation Cost
Septic System Type Average Cost
Conventional $3,500 – $10,000
Alternative $6,000 – $15,000
Engineered $12,000 – $15,000

Septic Tank Cost By House and Gallon Size

The size of the tank needed for your home depends on the home’s size in square feet and the number of bedrooms. Standard septic tank sizes usually start at 750 gallons for a one- to two-bedroom houses under 1,500 sqft, and go up to 1,500 gallons for a six-bedroom house that is less than 5,500 sqft.

 Septic Tank Sizes and Prices   Tank Material Tank

Septic Tank Sizes and Prices
Tank Material Tank Gallon Size House Size Tank Cost
Polyethylene 500 1 bedroom $725
Polyethylene 750 2 bedroom $1,200
Polyethylene 1,000 3 bedroom $1,310
Fiberglass 1,000 3 bedroom $2,300
Polyethylene 1,250 3 or 4 bedroom $2,100
Concrete 1,250 3 or 4 bedroom $2,510
Fiberglass 1,250 3 or 4 bedroom $2,350
Polyethylene 1,500 5 or 6 bedroom $2,340
Concrete 1,500 5 or 6 bedroom $2,660
Fiberglass 1,500 5 or 6 bedroom $2,660

Costs above include excavation with good site conditions, placing of the tank, inlet and outlet fittings, and backfill after hookup. Add the cost of percolation testing, laying about 40 feet of pipes, and building the drain field ($2,000 – $10,000) to get your final cost.

Cost of Septic System for 3-Bedroom House

Cost of Septic System for 3-Bedroom House

The cost for a 1,000-gallon septic tank to support up to 3-bedrooms is between $2,190 and $5,200 with most homeowners spending $3,250 on average.

Cost of Septic System for 4-Bedroom House

The cost for a 1,250-gallon septic tank to support up to 4-bedrooms is between $2,310 and $5,400 with most homeowners spending $3,530 on average.

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FAQs

Choosing the best septic tank system for your home can seem like a complicated task. Having a professional’s help can make the process easier, especially when you’re armed with the answers to these frequently asked questions.

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Q. How many years does a septic tank last?

The average lifespan of a septic tank is 20 to 40 years. Steel tanks may last less than 20 years due to corrosion, but concrete tanks could last longer than 40 years if properly maintained. The lifespan of the drain field for liquid waste can last anywhere from five years to 50 years depending on soil composition, weather influences, usage, and quality of engineered systems.

Q. Can a homeowner install their own septic system?

There are a number of tasks that can be completed by DIY-enthusiastic homeowners, including preparing the landscaping, digging the holes, and purchasing the gravel. However, many states require that licensed companies install the septic tank since improper installation can lead to waste contaminants in nearby water sources.

Q. What type of septic tank is the best?

The composition of the ground around the home and the size of the home are two main factors that determine the best kind of septic tank. Concrete tanks are long lasting, and fiberglass tanks resist corrosion. If the soil is not permeable, an engineered pumping system may need to be installed to properly drain and purify liquid waste. A qualified professional can help determine the best septic tank for your home after completing a soil test.

Sources: HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide

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