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Most people will pay about $400 to have their septic tank pumped, according to HomeAdvisor.com, although the cost can vary depending on the size of the tank. Bigger tanks can be more expensive to pump than smaller ones.In general, septic tanks need to be pumped every 3 to 5 years, but larger households may need be pump their tank more frequently.
"What type of septic system should I install?"
The type of septic system you install in your home will vary according to state or local regulations, the size of your lot, the type of soil on your property, your proximity to bodies of water, and more.
Typically, a single-family home will have a septic tank system which consists of a septic tank and a drainfield (or soil absorption field.) A drainfield pipes effluent (liquid) from the tank to a shallow underground trench in the soil.
Here are a few types of septic tank systems to consider:
A gravel/stone system pipes the effluent from the septic tank to a trench made of gravel or stone. These systems tend to be fairly large and may not be allowed on smaller properties.
A chamber system is an alternative to the gravel/stone system in which the wastewater is carried from the septic tank to a series of chambers that are surrounded by soil; there, microbes found in the soil can treat the effluent. Chamber systems have been replacing gravel systems in recent years, and work well in areas that have high groundwater tables or in seasonal homes.
A drip distribution system is inserted into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil, but requires a large dose tank and more maintenance and costs than other systems.
An aerobic treatment unit works in the same way as a system that’s found in a municipal sewage plant, but on a smaller scale. It’s good for homes that have small lots or that are located close to a body of water.
Septic tanks can also be made from a few different types of materials:
Concrete septic tanks are the most popular option for homeowners. They tend to last for about 20 years, but can crack or separate over time.
Fiberglass septic tanks are less likely to crack than other types, but because they tend to be fairly light, they can be prone to damage or shifting.
Plastic septic tanks can be comparatively inexpensive, but because they are lightweight, they can also be prone to damage and shifting.
Steel septic tanks are the least durable option, and aren’t commonly used anymore.
"I think my septic system is backed up, what should I do?"
If you’re experiencing signs of a sewer system backup — including water backup or strong odors coming from your sink, toilet, or shower drains — you should call a plumber or local septic system service provider right away.
Septic systems gradually fill up with waste and need to be pumped, on average, about once every three to five years. If you haven’t had your septic tank pumped within the past few years, it may need to be pumped by a professional who can transport the waste to an approved treatment facility. (Don’t try to pump your own septic tank; being exposed to the waste in the tank can be dangerous.)
If your septic tank was pumped within the last year or two, the backup may be caused by a clog in the pipes. Common causes of clogs include:
tree roots, which can grow in pipes or in the sewage system itself; garbage from a garbage disposal, which may not be fully broken down; a damaged pipe; an overload caused by harsh chemicals such as antifreeze or too much water (for example, using the laundry, shower, and dishwasher at once); flushing non-flushable items such as feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, or even some “flushable” wipes.
A plumber or septic tank professional can inspect your septic system and either arrange for the tank to be pumped or fix the clog.
"Should I repair or replace my septic system?"
With routine maintenance, a septic system will generally last for about 20 to 30 years. If your septic system is more than two decades old, you may have to replace it, which could be costly: Installing a new septic system costs an average of $6,309, with the higher estimates nearing $10,000, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
Given the expense of replacing a septic system, it’s a good idea to try to repair it if possible. In some cases, you may just need a new part, such as a baffle, which prevents a buildup of scum in the pipes (about $400) a tank lid (about $50), or tank (between $800 and $1,400), according to HomeAdvisor.com.
It’s important to fix any problems with your septic system right away. A faulty septic system can contaminate the soil in your area, spread disease to people and animals, lower your property value, and expose you to legal liabilities.
"Can my septic drainfield be repaired?"
It’s possible, though expensive, for some septic drainfields to be repaired. The cost to repair a septic drainfield can range from $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the drainfield and the extent of the damage, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
In other instances, however, a drainfield cannot be repaired. For example, sometimes a tank becomes so clogged that waste seeps into the surrounding soil and builds up, causing so much damage that you’ll need to dig an entirely new drainfield.
Schedule a yearly inspection with a septic tank professional to spot any potential problems before they become bigger ones.