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Septic Tank Repair Cost

The average cost of repairing a septic tank is $1,500.

In this guide

Signs that a septic tank needs repairing
Common problems
Cost factors
Labor
Maintenance
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to repair a septic tank?

If you live in an area without town or city waste removal, then you will likely have a septic tank on your property. Septic tanks hold and filter waste and water from your household plumbing. They are surrounded by a leach field 1 and need to be periodically pumped to keep them in good working order. Because of how important this feature is to a home, any repairs need to be made quickly to prevent serious issues from occurring.

The average septic tank can require a number of repairs over its lifetime. The most common of which is a broken pipe. The cost to repair this issue is around $1,500 on average.

Signs that a septic tank needs repairing

Septic tanks are made up of numerous parts. Therefore, several things can break or wear out over time. Symptoms that might mean that your septic tank needs repairing include:

  • Wet areas or puddles forming above the septic tank.
  • Strong smell of sewage in the vicinity of the tank.
  • Grass over the tank suddenly increasing in color and density.
  • Plumbing inside the house backing up or not draining properly.
  • Sunken area or depression over the tank.
  • Gurgling within other drains when one plumbing fixture is used.
  • Strong smell or odor coming from the drains inside the house.

Not all of these necessarily indicate that a repair is necessary. Some may simply mean the tank is overdue for regular service or there may be a separate issue with the plumbing. You should still have the system checked as soon as possible to make sure there are no serious issues that need emergency repair.

Common problems

Septic tanks are fairly reliable and can last for years with few problems. Some issues are more likely to occur over time, however, that you may need to watch out for:

Common issueDescription of repairAverage costs
Collapsed baffle

Replace the baffle

$100
Faulty installation

Discover the issue

Replace anything installed incorrectly

May include moving the system

$100-$50,000*
Disused systemAdd new bacteria to restart the system$500-$600
High hydrostatic pressureDrain off the pressure$500-$2,000
Overflow

Pump

Replace leach field

$500-$7,000
ClogsRemove and break up the clog$600
Damaged/broken pipesRemove and replace damaged pipes$1,500
Tree root damage

Remove and replace damaged areas

May include pipes or tank

$1,500-$7,000
Drain field failureMove the field to a new location$6,000-$20,000
Tank or line leak

Patch leak

May involve replacing tank, replacing pipes, or moving the leach field 1

$6,000-$20,000
Ground movementMove and relocate the tank and leach field 1$6,000-$20,000


*Faulty installation has a large cost range because the area where the fault lies can be in any area. For example, the baffle can be installed incorrectly, which is a straightforward and inexpensive thing to fix ($100) or the leach field may have been put in either incorrectly or in the wrong area, which is very difficult and expensive to fix ($20,000). In the worst-case scenario, you would need an entirely new setup, along with the removal of the incorrectly installed system, which would make for the highest costs ($50,000). Keep in mind that the warranty or installer’s policy may cover faulty installation, so it is always a good idea to check prior to beginning repairs.

Cost factors

Numerous factors can impact the cost of your septic tank repair. The fact that the tank is located underground means that it can be difficult to diagnose the problem. The entire area may need to be dug up or just a small section. You may need to redo your landscaping once the problem is fixed. Some issues can also range from small, such as a single tree root in a pipe, to major like tree roots pushing the tank to a new location.

The time of year when you have an issue can also impact costs. If there is snow on the ground, it will increase the amount of labor necessary to reach the tank. If this is an emergency call, your costs will also be higher than if you can wait to have the work done.

The materials used in your tank, as well as the type of soil you have in your yard, can also impact the final repair costs.

Labor

Some plumbers work on a septic system, but in most cases, you want a septic company to handle the work. The same company that oversees the pumping of your tank would likely be able to handle most repairs as well. Many companies have flat fees for each type of repair, with a general inspection fee of $100 for the call out included. For example, the most common type of repair, which is a broken pipe, typically has a flat-rate fee of around $1,500 on average.

Maintenance

Septic tanks do not require a great deal of hands-on maintenance. They should be pumped regularly, according to the schedule determined by you and the service provider. You may also want to have it inspected every few years by the same provider to make sure things are working well. During this inspection, they may turn up small issues that can be corrected before they become expensive repairs.

If your septic provider recommends it, there are additives you can send through the system by flushing them down the toilet. These additives contain additional bacteria that can help your system work more efficiently. Not every system operates the same, however, so do not add anything to your tank without first checking with your service provider to see if this is recommended.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Septic tank pumping

Your tank should be pumped every few years on a regular schedule. Sometimes in order to make repairs, the service provider may first pump the tank to get a better look at it. Pumping is an additional cost of around $700 with an inspection.

Additional considerations and costs

  • If you live in a freeze/thaw climate and need repairs during the winter, your rates could be higher as workers may require additional equipment to cut through the frozen ground.
  • Be advised that heavy vehicles like tractors that are driven over the top of a septic tank may damage it.
  • If you have a sewer hookup, you may not have to remove the septic tank right away, but you will need to remove it if you sell the property, open a new business there, or build in that area.
  • Do not dispose of non-biodegradable materials like plastics in your septic tank.
  • Do not dispose of old medications or large amounts of disinfectant or chemicals into your septic tank because these could kill the beneficial bacteria.
  • Bleaches and detergents used in moderation do not pose a threat to the system.
  • Using less water may keep your system healthy. Extra water in the tank prevents the breakdown of waste in a timely way. Using water-saving toilets, faucets, and showerheads can help. Turn off the tap when not actively using the water.

FAQ

  • What are the signs of a failing septic system?

Signs of a failing system include slow drains, water pooling above the tank, an odor around the tank or coming from drains, or sunken ground around the tank.

  • Can you repair a septic tank?

In some instances, it is possible to repair a tank. Pipes, baffles, and other moving parts can be replaced to keep the tank working.​

  • How many years does a septic tank last?

When well-maintained, a septic tank should last at least 15 years.

  • Can a concrete septic tank be repaired?

This depends on the area that needs repair. Many parts can be repaired, while some major issues with the tank itself may require replacement.​

  • Do old septic tanks need to be removed?

Old septic tanks need removing only when selling the property, starting a new business there, or extending the property into the area.​

  • Is it bad for a septic system to sit unused?

It is not necessarily bad, but you may need new bacteria introduced to get it working again.​

  • What should you not put in a septic system?

Do not put plastics, medications, or chemicals into the septic system.​​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Leach field: The part of a septic system that is used to remove pollutants and impurities from the fluid coming out of the septic tank.

Cost to repair a septic tank varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Asheville, NC
-18%
Ashland, OH
-19%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Auburn, WA
-1%
Beckley, WV
-21%
Brenham, TX
-36%
Camby, IN
-18%
Columbus, IN
-11%
Corsicana, TX
-33%
Duluth, MN
-13%
Edmond, OK
-8%
Elk River, MN
-17%
Elkhart, IN
-5%
Glasgow, KY
-14%
Greenville, SC
-12%
Harvest, AL
-22%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kokomo, IN
-24%
Laurens, SC
-14%
Lebanon, OR
-10%
Marion, IN
-14%
Mcdonough, GA
-11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Midland, TX
-15%
Mitchell, SD
-3%
Mobile, AL
-8%
Mustang, OK
-28%
Olympia, WA
-15%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Oviedo, FL
-1%
Paradise, CA
-14%
Portland, ME
-4%
Saco, ME
-14%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
Saint Petersburg, FL
-11%
Sapulpa, OK
-24%
Seguin, TX
-27%
Shelton, CT
+21%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Tallahassee, FL
-14%
Texarkana, TX
-30%
Tiverton, RI
-3%
Yakima, WA
-31%
Labor cost in your zip code
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