- Your septic tank is an important part of your house, even though it’s actually buried outside in your yard.
- A leaky or damaged septic tank can cause damage to your house and the surrounding environment.
- Due to local building code rules, it’s almost always best to have a qualified professional repair or replace your septic tank.
The cost of maintaining your septic system can be broken down into three basic areas: maintenance, repair, and replacement. A properly functioning septic system won’t need much maintenance — just regular emptying. Search online for septic tank services near you to take care of that.
However, bigger problems can occur, especially with poor maintenance or older systems. If you need to have your septic tank repaired or replaced, how much will it cost? And what does that include? This guide will walk you through the most common problems with septic systems, including the average cost to repair them. If you need to replace your entire septic system, an online search for suitable contractors in your area is the best place to start.
What is a Septic Tank?
A septic tank is a separate underground tank designed to hold and treat household wastewater. When wastewater from a building flows into a septic tank, it’s stored and broken down by anaerobic bacteria. Once that process is complete, solid wastes are filtered out of remaining liquid and sent via pipe to another system (like an absorption field). There, it receives further treatment before being discharged into natural waterways.
You’ll find septic tanks mostly in rural areas. Buildings in most medium-to-large cities will be plumbed into a local sewer system. If you do have one, though, it’s important to pay attention. Not only do they require regular emptying, but they can sometimes run into additional issues. A malfunctioning septic tank can be an expensive (and smelly) problem. Here are some of the most common issues you might face.
Ground Movement Around Your Septic Tank
If your property has shifted significantly or if there are cracks in your basement walls, you could have a faulty septic tank. Cracks in concrete that run parallel to your septic system are a strong indicator of ground movement. The cost of repair will vary, but expect it to be around $500-$1,000 for an independent contractor and $1,500+ if you hire a professional septic company.
Damage From Tree Roots
Roots from nearby trees and shrubs can infiltrate septic lines, which can cause blockages and backup into your home. Signs of tree root damage include bubbling in foundation walls or floors, or pooling water near a drain field. If you notice such signs, call a septic tank service immediately—you may have only a few months before waste back-up causes major damage.
Repair or replacement costs are usually between $2,000 and $15,000. It really depends on how bad the damage is. You can somewhat prevent these issues by making sure trees are not growing near your tank. However, you can never fully control nature.
A Collapsed Baffle
If your septic tank baffle collapses, you’ll need an expert to replace it. This type of problem requires a lot of digging and your toilet will likely have to be taken out. Depending on how big your septic tank is, it could cost between $500 and $2,000. If there’s already a backup within your home and damage has been done as a result, you may have additional problems on top of a collapsed baffle that will also need fixing.
Damaged Dip Pipe
The dip pipe is a crucial part of a septic system. It is essentially a pipe that runs from your home’s drain lines into your septic tank or leach field. The purpose of a dip pipe is to help distribute wastewater evenly across an underground leach field and prevent clogging.
When it comes time for you to get septic tank service, you will want to be sure that your dip pipe isn’t damaged. If it is, then you may need a new one installed before any other repairs can be made. This could cost $1,000 or more depending on how far down it needs to be replaced and if there are other issues with your septic system.
Your Tank is Simply Old
If your tank is more than 15 years old, it’s quite possible that it will need to be replaced. If you live in an area with hard water or have been using a lot of chemical cleaners for years, there’s also a chance that your system could be corroded beyond repair. Whatever causes corrosion or damage to your system, keep in mind that replacing a septic tank can cost anywhere from $7,000–$10,000. The good news? This expense is tax deductible and may even qualify for some type of government assistance.
Replacing Your Septic Tank
If your septic tank fails, you can’t just call up a plumber. Your local septic company will send out a tanker truck to suck out all of your waste and then dispose of it in an approved landfill. It costs between $800 and $1,200 for one load (about 1,000 gallons), plus another $100 or so per month for disposal fees. Replacing your entire system costs between $3,000 and $10,000 depending on where you live.
One word of warning: replacing your septic tank is a major job. You should not attempt to do it yourself unless you are totally confident in your abilities. An improperly installed septic system could lead to leaks, damaging both your home and the surrounding environment. It could also cause health problems to humans and pets in your home, as well as wildlife in the area. Hire a licensed pro for this job.
The Bottom Line
On average, the average septic problem can cost you $2,000 to $7,000. The costs of a replacement system start at around $10,000. If your system is past the point of repair and needs replacement, be sure to ask the professionals you hire for a septic tank installation quote what they think the long-term effects will be on your property.