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How Much Does A Septic System Cost?

January 03, 2020

How much does a septic system cost? - Unique Drain + Septic

Key Points: 

  1. Installing a conventional septic system will cost an average of between $1500 and $5000. But if you choose to install an engineered system (with additional pumps or components), the cost of the system can be between $9000 and $15,000. 
  2. The cost of a septic tank will vary based its size (and thus its compatibility with the size of your home). Septic tanks cost between $750 and $2500. 
  3. A drain field can cost between $2000 and $10,000. The cost highly depends on the type of soil where the drain field will be located. 
  4. Other costs you should consider are those for soil testing, system design, permits, clearing of any land, connection of your septic tank to your home, and a potential pump alarm. See below for specific average costs of these components. 
  5. Proper long-term maintenance of a septic system will include regular pumping every 3-5 years at $300 to $600 per pump. In addition, proper maintenance will help to keep repair costs to a minimum. Proper maintenance includes encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria inside your septic tank and avoiding letting anything harmful go down your drains!

Let's say you live in a rural area, or a neighborhood where public sewer access is not available. If this is you, chances are that you're on a septic system. New and seasoned home owners alike may worry about the cost of such a system and need to know upfront what expenses they can expect. Well, we’re here to break down the cost of the various components, the installation, and the maintenance of a septic system!

Let’s jump in! 

Average Cost of Installing a Septic System

To begin, we'll quickly look at the overall cost of installing a complete septic system, then we'll go on to break down each component of the system by its cost. For most homes, the cost of a conventional septic system will typically vary between $1500 on the low end and $5000 on the high end. That's a lot of variance, which is why the specific cost of your septic system will heavily depend on your particular situation. For example, a four-bedroom home will need a larger and more expensive system than a two-bedroom home. In the same vein, soil conditions can also play into the cost of installation. In general, though, most people spend on average about $3200 to $5000 for a conventional septic system.

Still, on the other hand, if you are looking to install an engineered system (a system with additional components like alternating pumps), your cost can quickly jump up! These systems can cost between $9000 and $15,0000!

But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume that you're looking to install a conventional septic system. A conventional system consists of a septic tank that naturally breaks down waste using bacteria and allows gravity to feed waste water into a lateral line system (a leach field or drain field) where it's purified of contaminants and safely discharged back into the ground water. In other words, a conventional system is the simplest system out there, and as a result, it's also the cheapest! 

Septic Tank Cost

In a conventional septic system, the septic tank itself is one of the biggest expenses you'll need to factor in. Depending on the size of your home, you'll need a larger or smaller septic tank. For example, a 750 gallon septic tank will service about a 1 to 2 bedroom home, and a 1500 gallon tank will service a 5 to 6 bedroom home. 

Cost breakdown of different sized septic tanks:

  • 500 gal = $725
  • 750 gal = $1200
  • 1000 gal = $1600
  • 1250 gal = $2300
  • 1500 gal = $2500

The numbers above account for both soil excavation and inlet and outlet fittings. Of course, these are just estimates and will vary a lot depending on your specific situation. All the same, these figures can give you a good picture of the possible range of costs. 

Drain Field Cost

The next big expense of installing a septic system is the drain field or leach field. The leach field consists of a lateral line system of perforated PVC pipes that are buried in a layer of gravel that lies under the native soil. This gravel filters the waste water, purifying it of contaminants before dispersing it back into the groundwater. The average cost of installing a drain field is between $2000 and $10,000. 

In general, it'll cost between $9 to $12 per linear foot to install lateral line pipes. Beyond this, you'll also need to factor in the cost of gravel, which should cost between $12 to $30 per ton. 

Other Costs

In addition to the two biggest costs of a septic system—the septic tank and the drain field—there are some other costs you'll need to consider. 

  1. Soil testing. Before you begin your project, you will need a soil test. This will help to determine the percolation rate of your soil, the height of the water table, and the location of bedrock. A soil test will typically cost between $100 to $400. However, some sources say that a deep hole percolation test can cost between $1000 and $2000. 
  2. Permit. A permit for a septic system will normally vary between $250 to $450. 
  3. Design of the system. Professionally designing a septic system will generally take between 2 to 3 weeks and cost about $600 on average. 
  4. Clearing the land. If applicable and depending on your situation, it might cost around $950 to clear a quarter acre of flat land. This cost could go up if you're not dealing with flat land. 
  5. Connecting pipes from your home to your septic tank. Including excavation and installation, the cost of connecting your septic tank to your home is normally between $25 to $33 per linear foot. 
  6. Pump alarm. To be alerted if water exceeds a certain level in your septic tank or if your pump fails, you'll need a pump alarm, which will cost about $750.


Properly maintaining a septic tank entails regular pumping, proper habits, and assisting the bacteria in your tank by using the best septic tank bacterial products

Depending upon usage, a septic tank should be pumped every 3-5 years. Failing to pump a septic tank can lead to gross and expensive complications, so it's important not to skip this crucial maintenance step! The cost of pumping a septic tank is between $300 and $600 with an average cost of about $400. 

Beyond the cost of pumping your septic tank, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of damage (and costly repairs!) to your septic system by only allowing human waste and toilet paper into your system! All other items (grease, food, bathroom articles like floss, feminine hygiene products, hand wipes, and even so-called "flushable wipes”) can lead to nasty clogs and backups in your system. These are no fun to deal with and are expensive to repair! 

Finally, we recommend that you supplement your system with a high-quality, bacteria-based product that will add beneficial bacteria to your septic tank and help to facilitate the breakdown of waste. By using this kind of product, you'll increase the life of your system and keep any repairs to a minimum. Some may argue that a properly working septic system should not require the use of treatment additives, but this is a common fallacy that we discuss here.

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While all the information and costs listed above can seem overwhelming at first, in the end it's worth it to install a personalized septic system! Regardless, we hope that this article has been helpful if you are trying to determine the cost of a new septic system for your home! As always, we're more than happy to answer any of your questions or concerns. Please feel free to reach out to us at support@uniquemm.com

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