Cost to get a septic tank pumped out

A septic tank is essentially a filter that treats wastewater by separating materials and making the water safe enough to be let into the earth. This is often used in rural areas where a sewerage system is not easily accessible. Sludge builds up in the septic tank meaning you will need to use a pump to get rid of it and ensure the tank continues working properly. To make sure septic tanks last and to save money you should get them pumped every two to three years. Now you know how important it is to get your "pump on" keep reading to learn more about the cost to get a septic tank pumped.

Cost to empty a septic tank

The average cost relating to emptying septic tank systems is between $250 to $600. This price will differ depending on the location of the tank, the material it is made of and the septic company employed.

What influences the cost of pumping a septic tank?

The cost of getting a septic tank pumped is determined by many factors including septic tank size, how well the tank has been maintained, garbage disposed of in the sewage, coffee ground waste, grease, and more.

Underground septic tanks

Septic tank size considerations

The size of the septic tank impacts the pumping cost of a 2,000-gallon septic tank system would be around $600. However, a 600-gallon septic tank cleaning can be done for as little as $175.

How well you keep it maintained

How you maintain your tank will directly impact the septic tank pumping costs. There are several ways you can maintain your tank and help reduce cost. Having your septic tank pumped regularly is a good starting point to maintain the health of your tank. So how often should you be pumping your tank? Good question. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer for this. A number of factors will impact the frequency of pumping including the number of people in the household. However, as a general rule on average, you should be pumping your septic tank every one to three years. The geographic location of the septic system will also affect how you maintain it. Septic tank pumping should be done more regularly for those living in cooler areas. This is because locations with cooler terrains stop the bacterial action meaning full decomposition does not occur in the sewage. For this reason, septic tank pumping must be done often.

Garbage disposal use & septic tank

Many people include garbage disposal in their kitchen which is useful as it helps deconstruct leftover food scraps. This system has a significant impact on the septic tank as the ground food waste ultimately ends up in the septic tank. For this reason, it is advised that those with septic tanks do not employ the use of a  disposal unit. There are three major reasons for this advice:

1. Reduces the effectiveness of your septic tank

The disposal system pushes all the food waste down to the septic system which overwhelms the system as the bacteria in the septic tank cannot keep up with the extra load of waste added. If the septic tank is forced to work overtime then the sludge level will rise, the ability of the bacteria in the septic tank to treat wastewater reduces and the capacity of your tank decreases.

2. There are greener ways to dispose of food waste

Not using a disposal system can be better for the environment. Instead, if you look into composting your food scraps you can help decrease the load of your tank and contribute to the environment.

3. It creates additional expenses

Overall by overworking your septic tank you are overworking your bank account. The more work your septic tank does the more it costs to maintain or fix it. This is because the higher the sludge levels the more frequent your septic tank needs to be pumped - sometimes twice the normal frequency. Additionally, the average septic tank pumping cost increases year on year. So if you are a homeowner with a septic tank and garbage disposal unit you're probably better off getting rid of the disposal unit.


Coffee grounds

Coffee ground waste

Coffee ground waste and septic tanks are not friends. There are two major reasons why you mustn’t let coffee grounds enter the septic tank system. The coffee ground will not break up in the tank, therefore, causing the tank to fill up much faster. Additionally, the bacteria in the septic system like a neutral pH - between 6.5 and 7.5. However, the pH level of brewed coffee is around 4.5 to 6. This increased acidic level cannot be tolerated by the septic system. The coffee ground will enter the septic system and the coffee will start to brew again. The chemicals for the coffee will acidify the septic tank which impacts its ability to work efficiently. This is because if the tank becomes too acidic then the bacteria cannot do their job. So what do you do with your coffee grounds? This is where the compost pile becomes useful again.

Grease, oil and fat

Most homeowners are unaware that pushing grease, oil and fat (FOG) down your drains increases the future cost of repairing your septic tank. The bacteria in the septic system cannot break down these substances so instead, they float above to form the scum layer. If scum and sludge levels increase then they will start escaping the tank and entering the nearby environment like the drain field. Scrum also releases gases into the system as some of the sludge particles are carried up by the grass bubbles to the scum layer. The airspace makes a vegetative mould to accelerate the trapping of the sludge particles. This causes a leathery scum layer which is very difficult to pump out.

Washing Machines

Washing machines are a common enemy for a septic tank as the chemically infused water from the laundry can enter the septic tank and start causing problems like increasing septic tank pumping costs. Follow these tips to safely do your laundry without causing harm to your septic system.

1. Use detergents and soaps correctly

Quite often people put in an extra dose of laundry detergent to get their clothes smelling fresh. However, the cost of this is the health of your septic tank. This is because these tanks rely on the bacteria to consume and process organic waste which is released to the drain field. However, the heavy chemicals in laundry detergents destroy important bacteria and make it difficult for the tank to process the waste. Septic tanks rely on colonies of beneficial bacteria, which consume and process organic waste so it can be safely released into the tank's drain field. Excessive use of laundry detergents causes the undissolved powder to form solids within your septic tank. This is a serious problem as if the powder clumps are caught in the inflow lines of the system, that could cause blockages leading to sewage and wastewater to back up to your home. This does not mean you stop using laundry detergents. However, being conscious of the amount you are using will be beneficial. Additionally, if you want to further eliminate the risk then choosing laundry detergents without phosphates, bleach or nonylphenol ethoxylated is recommended.

2. Clean lint filters regularly

When was the last time you cleaned your lint filter? This is a good practice to help keep the septic system out of trouble. Once the lint filter gets clogged, little bits of lint will move to the septic system and cause some clogging if it gets in the septic lines. Non-organic materials in lint such as threads cannot be processed by the bacteria in the tank which causes it to settle at the bottom of the tank. This will accumulate over time and then form a thick layer in the tank which reduces overall capacity.

3. Don't overload the system

Doing loads of laundry back to back overwhelms your septic tank which forces the tank to release the waster into the drain field before filtering it. Drainfield clogging and contamination are common problems due to an overloaded system. These problems often can only be resolved with the help of a septic tank repair contractor. The size of laundry you can do will be impacted by your septic tank holding capacity. The larger the tank the greater the capacity and therefore the more laundry that can be done. Older septic tanks cannot have lower capacity meaning loads should be spaced out.

4. Consider a new washing machine

You can help your septic tank by getting a new washing machine that meets strict energy efficiency regulations and utilises less water. Whilst, this is an expensive option it will be worthwhile in the long term as it allows you to do complete laundry more frequently and removes the worries about frequent septic tank pumping.


Something as simple as parking can contribute to increasing septic tank pumping. There are three major risks of parking on top of your septic tanks.

1. You could trigger a surprise collapse

You can cause serious damage to the septic system installed in your house by putting too much weight above the tank area. This is why a septic tank should not be placed in a driveway and are usually located underneath a soft area that does not receive a lot of weight.

2. Wet conditions can be treacherous

Parking over septic systems is more dangerous during wet conditions. This is because when movable soil soaks up the water and then has a vehicle on top of it causes damage to your septic systems. This could lead to a potential rupture as it is more vulnerable to damage.

3. Even light vehicles could damage the tank

It is a common misconception that only heavy vehicles can cause damage to the tanks however this is not the case. Something as small as a Mini Cooper can impact the tank.

Man emptying septic tank

Can I pump my own septic tank?

You can clean a septic tank yourselves however it is not recommended. This process can often be quite strenuous and If done incorrectly, you can severely hurt the septic tank, improperly dispose of wastewater or not do a good job of removing all the waste.

Let iseekplant help you with finding a septic tank pump contractor

This is why you should leave it to the professionals as they are far better equipped to get it done. If you’re struggling to find the right person for the job, then your search is over. At iseekplant, we’re Australia’s largest construction hire marketplace. This means you can search our large directory for suppliers, including septic companies to compare companies, reviews and quotes for your next project. Get a quick quote today using our Get a Quote Tool .